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Financial Services Committee Approves Section Eight Housing Voucher Reform

August 3, 2009
Press Release
The House Financial Services Committee today approved the Section Eight Voucher Reform Act of 2009 (H.R. 3045), landmark legislation sponsored by Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA).  The bill would reform the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, which provides rental housing assistance to 2 million low-income American families.

"As a result of the economic crisis and increases in foreclosures and homelessness, the Section 8 program is more important now than ever before," said Congresswoman Waters, who chairs the Housing and Community Opportunity Subcommittee.  "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.