Senate Unanimously Approves Bill to Improve Housing Now On President Obama’s Desk
On July 14, 2016, the Senate approved H.R. 3700, the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2015, by unanimous consent. Senator Menendez was a sponsor and a leader in securing passage.
A broad coalition of housing advocates, including Monarch Housing, worked to advance versions of this legislation for many years.
Senators Tim Scott (R-SC), Ranking Member Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) championed the bill by urging their colleagues to support its passage and introducing similar legislation in the Senate. H.R. 3700 includes important reforms to voucher inspections, treatment of high-income households in public housing, project-based vouchers, and the Family Unification Program, among many other changes. Learn more about the bill here.
The House passed H.R. 3700 unanimously in February. The bill now heads to President Obama’s desk for his signature. Thank you to the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) and the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) for their analysis of the legislation.
“This bill takes a common-sense approach to improving our nation’s critical affordable housing programs,” said Diane Yentel, President and CEO of NLIHC. “Thanks to the bipartisan leadership of Senator Menendez as well as Senators Scott, Blunt, and Coons, seniors, people with disabilities, and low-income families will be better able to access the help they need to find an affordable place to call home. At a time when Congress seems more polarized than ever, it is heartening to see Senators from both sides of the aisle come together to unanimously enact important, substantive legislation that will streamline and improve affordable housing programs.”
Please email Rebecca Schatz in Menendez’s office to thank him for passing the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act. Let him know that you appreciate it when they stand up for low-income renters! Rebecca handles housing issues in the Senator’s office.
As additional background, H.R. 3700 includes changes to Section 8 and the federal Family Unification Program (FU), to make it a more effective housing resource available to young adults who have been involved with foster care. Current statute imposes limitations on the vouchers that target youth. Those restrictions can make it difficult for Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) to administer the vouchers in a way that allows young adults the time to engage in meaningful programs and find the affordable, stable housing they need to build independent lives.
Section 110 of H.R. 3700 — in order to improve FUP-Youth voucher assistance — specifically:
- Extends the age eligibility for FUP vouchers that serve young adults leaving care from 21 to 24;
- Extends housing assistance for youth receiving the FUP voucher from 18 to 36 months;
- Allows FUP voucher assistance to begin 90 days prior to a young adult leaving foster care (either through emancipation process or aging out), and incorporates the assistance into young adults’ transition plan to reduce lapses in housing;
- Includes language requiring U.S. HUD and U.S. Health & Human Services to issue joint guidance to both PHAs and Public Child Welfare Agencies on how to improve the referral process for the FUP voucher and identify eligible recipients of FUP; aligns program goals and reduces lapses in housing for young persons that have been involved in foster care; and
- Allows Public Housing Authorities to project-base Family Unification vouchers.
Additionally, language H.R. 3700 making constructive changes to Project-Based Vouchers that will increase the supply of supportive housing for homeless populations.
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