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Congresswoman Waters Introduces Legislation to Reform Housing Voucher Program

July 27, 2009
Press Release

Rep. Maxine Waters, Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity, and Rep. Barney Frank, Chairman of the Financial Services Committee, have introduced landmark legislation to reform the Section 8 voucher program.

H.R. 3045, the "Section 8 Voucher Reform Act of 2009" (SEVRA) would expand and improve the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, which provides subsidized housing vouchers for 2 million families.

"The Section 8 program is more important now than ever before," Chairwoman Waters stated. "The economic recession and the foreclosure crisis have placed affordable housing and the low-income families who need it at risk. The Section 8 program must be reformed and expanded so that it can effectively respond to this crisis."

SEVRA would authorize an additional 150,000 new vouchers, simplify inspections, reform the rent setting process, and improve the funding formula for the Section 8 program.

"The Bush Administration played games with how the Section 8 program was funded and housing authorities still haven't recovered from the changes to the funding formula," Rep. Waters said. "As a result, we have lost over 150,000 housing vouchers. My bill would permanently correct this formula and provide housing authorities with stable funding levels so that no tenant is ever at risk of losing housing assistance."

The bill would also reform the Moving-to-Work program, which currently allows about 30 public housing agencies to experiment with different rent structures and programs. "I have serious concerns about the Moving-to-Work program," Rep. Waters stated. "This is why SEVRA reforms this program by requiring a rigorous evaluation and including strong tenant protections."

In 2007, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1851, an earlier version of the Section 8 Voucher Reform Act, on a bipartisan vote of 333-83. The Senate failed to take any action on the legislation.

"I hope that we can quickly provide the President with a bill for signature. Housing authorities and the families they serve shouldn't have to wait any longer for the reforms in this bill."

Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), and Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA) joined Chairwoman Waters and Chairman Frank as original co-sponsors.