House Committee Releases Voucher Bill

Affordable Housing and Self-Sufficiency Improvement Act

Congressman Spencer BachusA revised draft of the voucher reform bill was released by Republican staff of the House Financial Services Committee, chaired by Representative Spencer Bachus (R-AL) on January 13, 2012. The new draft bill, now called the Affordable Housing and Self-Sufficiency Improvement Act (AHSSIA), could be taken up by the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity in early February.

The draft bill makes a number of changes to the previous draft, released in October 2011, including:

  • Incorporating Representative Gary Miller’s (R-CA) draft Moving to Work (MTW) Improvement, Expansion, and Permanency Act, which was also circulated in October 2011. This legislation would allow the HUD Secretary to provide the broad flexibilities of the MTW demonstration to an unlimited number of public housing agencies and make MTW permanent;
  • Making significant changes to the previous version’s minimum rent increase provisions, which NLIHC opposes, and would direct the HUD Secretary to set monthly minimum rents for public housing residents, voucher holders and project-based Section 8 tenants of not less than $69.45 and then would allow the Secretary to index this minimum rent floor to inflation;
  • Including important project-based voucher provisions sought by NLIHC and many other advocates. These include the ability to base the percentage of vouchers that could be project-based (20%) on the number of a PHA’s authorized vouchers rather than on a PHA’s authorized voucher funding;
  • Allowing for an additional 5% of an agency’s vouchers to be project-based to provide units that house individuals and families that are homeless, who are veterans, that provide supportive housing to persons with disabilities, or that are located in areas where vouchers are difficult to use;
  • Allowing for enhanced vouchers to be converted to project-based vouchers for the purposes of preserving affordable housing;
  • Allowing for full fungibility between the public housing capital and operating funds;
  • Creating a rent reform demonstration and a “research demonstration to evaluate options for taking economic security initiatives to scale in subsidized housing.” These demonstrations seem to duplicate what many existing MTW PHAs already say they are testing and thus, may be an unnecessary expansion of PHAs’ latitude to not to insure that each household has a rent that is affordable; and
  • And improving the Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) program, including merging the public housing and voucher FSS programs and expanding the reach of the FSS program to project-based Section 8 households.

Unlike the October 2011 version of the bill, the latest does not require PHAs to operate some compendium of supportive services in order to take advantage of the bill’s income and rent determination simplifications.

Click here to read a full analysis of the new draft bill from the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC)

Click here to read the full bill.

Click here to read a one-page summary provided by the Subcommittee staff.