US House Advances Tweaks to Section 8 HCV Program
On March 11, the U. S. House of Representatives passed bi-partisan legislation, by a vote of 387-22, to give tenant participants in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program greater flexibility to move to lower-poverty areas and expanded access to opportunity areas.
The “Housing Choice Voucher Mobility Demonstration Act of 2019” was introduced by Representatives Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) and Sean Duffy (R-WI). Congressman Duffy is the Ranking Member of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing & Insurance, a key committee in Congress for the apartment industry. A bi-partisan companion bill has been introduced in the Senate as well.
The legislation authorizes the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to carry out a housing choice voucher mobility demonstration program that requires public housing agencies (PHAs) to submit a Regional Housing Mobility Plan to show how they would use the additional funding to benefit the residents participating in the programs. PHA’s would be required to outline specific goals they plan to accomplish under the demonstration and a comprehensive plan on how to reach those goals, enabling a successful transition for the HCV holders.
Additionally, the bill permits participating PHAs to utilize administrative fee reserves and funding from private entities to provide mobility-related incentives and services to property owners and operators. These include counseling, property owner and operator outreach, security deposits and administrative activities associated with establishing and operating the mobility program.
Congress is taking an important step forward to reform the HCV program, a priority issue for the industry. The program currently helps house 2.2 million low-income households representing more than five million people. Despite the large number of households served by the program, approximately three out of every four households that are eligible for assistance do not receive it. NAA believes the HCV program could be the nation's most effective affordable housing and community development tool and encourages Congress to continue to develop solutions to assist HCV participating residents and property owners alike.
NAA will continue to work with the Administration and Congress on reforms that will encourage voluntary private sector participation. We will continue to ask Congress to support streamlining and reforming the HCV program to encourage more private participation; greater overall funding to increase the supply of vouchers; and improvements and greater efficiency and consistency in the administration of the HCV program.