WASHINGTON – (RealEstateRama) — Enhancing the portability of housing assistance vouchers will help recipients achieve economic self-sufficiency by opening up new and better job, education and housing opportunities, witnesses told the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance today.
The hearing was the ninth held by the Subcommittee since January 2015 on “The Future of Housing in America.”
“Too often, the regulatory regime surrounding public housing authorities (PHAs) has the ultimate effect of stifling opportunity for tenants. Rules preventing flexibility and modernization for PHAs mean more work and fewer served. Archaic rules surrounding housing vouchers limit the ability of residents to pursue financial independence. All of this, combined with a budget situation that’s not improving, means that we need to think differently about the way we administer housing programs,” said Chairman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO).
Key Takeaways from the Hearing:
- Encouraging voucher mobility would consolidate administration of the voucher program and create opportunities for non-profit organizations and other service providers to administer the program with greater efficiency and service.
- The new Housing Choice Voucher Mobility Demonstration included in the president’s 2017 budget proposal would enhance tenant choice and reduce taxpayer costs.
Topline Quotes from Witnesses:
“The result [of the current system] is a complex network of program administration, where multiple agencies, both large and small, often administer vouchers in the same metro areas, sometimes with overlapping jurisdictions. The complexity and redundancy of program administration is inefficient, increases program costs, makes federal oversight more difficult, and reduces housing opportunities for families.” ”-Barbara Sard, Vice President for Housing Policy, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
“To address the concentration of voucher utilization, the St. Louis Housing Authority and the Housing Authority of St. Louis County are collaborating to design and implement a small mobility counseling program. The program focuses on moving families to areas with a concentration of poverty of less than 10%. Participation in the program is voluntary and open to both new and existing clients of both housing authorities. Our program is funded by a small one-time grant that supports the program for 12-14 months.” -Ms. Cheryl Lovell, Executive Director, St. Louis Housing Authority