Section 8 Housing Voucher Reform Approved by House Financial Services Committee

July 23, 2009
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The House of Representatives Financial Services Committee approved H.R. 3045, the Section 8 Voucher Reform Act of 2009. The landmark bill would reform the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, which provides rental housing assistance to approximately 2 million low-income families nationwide. The legislation, sponsored by Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) and pictured here, was approved on July 23 by a vote of 41 to 24. "As a result of the economic crisis and the resulting increases in foreclosures and levels of homelessness, the Section 8 program is more important now than ever," said Waters. "By improving and expanding the program, this bill would ensure that Section 8 can respond to this crisis." H.R. 3045 would establish what Waters describes as a stable, fair, and cost-effective funding system for the Section 8 program and would ensure that households would not be at risk of losing housing assistance by unexpected budget shortfalls. It would also restore previous assistance levels by authorizing 150,000 new vouchers. Under the bill, several critical provisions streamline the process of providing Section 8 housing assistance. The calculations governing tenant rent payments would be simplified, reducing the burden on housing agencies, households, and private owners of subsidized housing. The bill would likewise streamline the housing inspection process, along with administrative burdens that make it difficult for transfer vouchers between jurisdictions. Additionally, the bill would provide added flexibility for public housing authorities to preserve affordable housing by allowing agencies to make greater use of "project-based" vouchers. The bill also reforms "Moving to Work," renaming it the "Housing Innovtaion Program," which currently permits HUD to waive certain regulations for 30 public housing agencies, allowing them to experiment with different rent structures and programs. To ensure the efficacy of the program, the bill provides for rigorous evaluation requirements, stronger resident protections, and clearer program goals for the effective use of federal funds.TCHMI Online Exclusives will provide more information on H.R. 3045 in the week to come.