The Senate Appropriations bill contains funding for 300 new Moving to Work (MTW) agencies.
While New Jersey does not have any MTW agencies, advocates are concerned that the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) does not have the capacity to oversee 300 new agencies.
Senator Robert Menendez through his role as a member of the Senate Banking Committee is in a position to influence MTW funding.
As background, Moving to Work (MTW) is a demonstration program for public housing authorities (PHAs) that provides them the opportunity to design and test innovative, locally-designed strategies that use Federal dollars more efficiently, help residents find employment and become self-sufficient, and increase housing choices for low-income families. MTW gives PHAs exemptions from many existing public housing and voucher rules and more flexibility with how they use their Federal funds. MTW PHAs are expected to use the opportunities presented by MTW to inform HUD about ways to better address local community needs.
“There is much that HUD and state and local housing agencies can do to broaden low-income families’ access to high-opportunity communities without expanding MTW. And if policymakers decide to expand MTW, they should also reform it to require more agencies to take strong steps to expand housing choice and prohibit the restrictions and deep voucher cuts that often accompany MTW today.”
“Even more fundamentally, MTW results in many fewer families receiving vouchers than could be assisted with available funds. In 2014, MTW agencies shifted $590 million — 19% of their total voucher subsidy funding — from the voucher program to other purposes or accumulated the funds as reserves. More than 63,000 families were left without vouchers as a result. The Senate bill’s MTW expansion could raise the number of families left without vouchers by as many as 55,000. And, because the bill would also block HUD reforms that could require current MTW agencies to put 30,000 vouchers back to use, the net loss of vouchers could reach 85,000.”
“In recent years Congress has considered raising the $50 cap on minimum rents at all non-MTW agencies but has wisely refrained from doing so, partly due to the risks for vulnerable families. Congress should also prevent widespread minimum rent increases through MTW, by rejecting expansion of the demonstration (which poses a number of other risks as well) or enacting reforms to protect the neediest families. “
Click here for the “Expanding “Moving to Work” Could Narrow Families’ Housing Choices“ blog.
Click here for the ““Moving to Work” Expansion Would Harm the Poorest Families” blog.