Housing Opportunity Modernization Act Becomes Law

President Obama Signs HR 3700 to Reform Rental Housing Opportunity

On July 29, 2016, President Obama signed the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act (H.R. 3700) into law. This legislation, which was unanimously approved by the House in February and by the Senate in July, includes a broad set of common-sense reforms to modernize several rental assistance programs while achieving modest cost savings.

The Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act will improve access to high-opportunity areas, help to address homelessness, reduce administrative burdens for housing agencies, strengthen work incentives, facilitate the preservation of public housing and improve resident quality of life.

Most of the bill’s provisions had been vetted by Congress for nearly a decade as part of earlier proposals that have had broad support, but were never enacted into law.

A broad coalition of housing organizations including Enterprise Community Partners and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has been working to advance the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act.

As background, the Senate version of the bill was then introduced in June Senators Tim Scott (R-SC), Ranking Member Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) , but it was ultimately the House version of the bill that the Senate approved.

The Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act will improve access to high-opportunity areas, help to address homelessness, reduce administrative burdens for housing agencies, strengthen work incentives, facilitate the preservation of public housing and improve resident quality of life. Key provisions include:

  • Facilitating broader use of project-based vouchers by allowing public housing agencies to project-base a greater share of their voucher assistance, to project-base a greater share of units within a development and to extend the length of project-based voucher contract terms to 20 years.
  • Simplifying the rules for determining tenant rent payments.
  • Streamlining inspections in the voucher program.
  • Allowing flexibility around the uses of public housing funds so that public housing agencies can transfer up to 20 percent of operating funds into capital funds in order to make needed repairs.
  • Expanding access to the Family Unification Program for youth aging out of foster care who are at risk of homelessness.
  • Limiting assistance for public housing tenants whose incomes rise about 120 percent of area median for two consecutive years.

As rental assistance programs face continued budget pressure, this legislation will help housing agencies make better use of limited resources. Most of the bill’s provisions have been vetted by Congress for nearly a decade as part of earlier proposals that have had broad support, but were never enacted into law.

Enterprise Blog on HR3700

CBPP HR3700 Resource Center

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