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Menendez Holds Senate Housing Reform Hearing

Newark PHA Executive Director Testifies

Keith Kinard, executive director of the Newark Housing Authority

On August 1, 2012, the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation and Community Development held a hearing, “Streamlining and Strengthening HUD’s Rental Housing Assistance Programs.” The hearing focused on the various housing reform bills considered over the last several years, including the Section 8 Voucher Reform Act, the Section 8 Savings Act and the Affordable Housing and Self-Sufficiency Improvement Act

These broad housing bills would make major reforms to HUD’s voucher programs, while simplifying rent setting for the voucher, project-based Section 8, and public housing programs. Various versions of the bills would generate between $700 million and more than $1 billion in cost savings over five years.

Subcommittee Chair Robert Menendez (D-NJ) opened the hearing, saying that the Section 8 and public housing programs put roofs over the heads of millions of families. “Over the past several years, these programs have performed to high standards, while operating under dire funding restraints.”

Keith Kinard, executive director of the Newark Housing Authority and testifying on behalf of the Council of Large Public Housing Agencies (CLPHA), touted provisions of recent housing reform legislation that would greatly simplify the rent-setting and inspection processes for public housing agencies.

Mr. Kinard also expressed CLPHA’s strong support of Moving to Work demonstration (MTW) expansion within any housing reform bill, and offered up the “stakeholder agreement” as proof that a widely-supported MTW expansion proposal could be included in broader housing reform legislation.

Linda Couch testified on behalf of the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC.) “In any reform bill, we urge the Subcommittee to balance new program flexibilities with the need for program accountability. In the long run, we fear that if Congress’ understanding of the programs’ use and impact fade due to fewer reporting requirements, the result would be decreased resources. The reforms we support bring efficiencies while continuing to hold all parties accountable for the use of federal resources,” Ms. Couch said.

Click here to view witness testimony and an archived webcast of the hearing.

Click here to view the NLIHC’s press release on the hearing.

by Kate M. Kelly

Kate Kelly joined Monarch Housing Associates in March of 2011. Her responsibilities include writing policy and other website updates, coordinating state and federal advocacy update and assisting with fundraising efforts. To read more about Kate and all of our staff click here. Click here to send Ms. Kelly an email.

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