Financial Services Committee Approves Section Eight Housing Voucher Reform
The Financial Services Committee today approved H.R. 3045, the Section Eight Voucher Reform Act of 2009. The landmark bill would reform the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, which provides rental housing assistance to 2 million low-income families nationwide. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), was approved by a vote of 41- 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 before,” said Rep. Waters. “By improving and expanding the program, this bill would ensure that Section 8 can respond to this crisis.”
H.R. 3045 would establish a stable, fair and cost-effective funding system for the Section 8 program and would ensure that no tenant is ever at risk of losing housing assistance due to 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 are simplified, reducing the burden on housing agencies, tenants and private owners of subsidized housing. The bill likewise streamlines the housing inspection process, along with administrative burdens that make it difficult to transfer vouchers between jurisdictions. Additionally, the bill provides the flexibility needed 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 Innovation Program, which currently permits the Department of Housing and Urban Development 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 in addressing the needs of the most vulnerable households, the bill provides for rigorous evaluation requirements, stronger tenant protections, and clearer program goals to ensure effective use of federal funds.