Prompted by the uncertainties surrounding the FY 2004 Housing Choice Voucher program appropriations process, MPC sent a letter to Illinois' congressional leaders urging them to support full funding of the program through 2004.
Prompted by the uncertainties surrounding the FY 2004
Housing Choice Voucher program appropriations process, MPC President Mary Sue
Barrett has sent letters to U.S. senators for Illinois and U.S. representatives of the Chicago region
urging them to support full funding
of the HCV program through FY 2004.
The HCV program has
gone through several funding obstacles throughout the FY 2004 Appropriations
process. Initially, President George W. Bush requested a funding
according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
, would have led to the loss of
vouchers. The House improved on this request somewhat, proposing a higher amount, but still
falling 63,000 vouchers short of the amount needed to fully fund
the program. Recently, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed its bill suggesting a lower
funding level than the House bill and requiring the U.S.
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to use unspent funds from past years to
fully fund the voucher program.
The HCV program provides rent assistance to
approximately 50,000 families in the Chicago metropolitan area, a region that is
experiencing an affordable housing crisis. Earlier this year, the National Low
Income Housing Coalition released Out of Reach , a report that
revealed that the "housing wage (the amount that
a full-time worker must earn per hour in order to afford a two
bedroom unit at the area’s fair market rent)" in the Chicago metropolitan area was $18.29 in
2003. The minimum wage in Illinois was $5.15 per hour.
In the last decade, the
six-county Chicago region grew by 11 percent in population and 16 percent in jobs,
but lost more than 28,000 apartments. The
Comprehensive Housing Initiative
, an executive order passed in 2003 by Gov.
Rod Blagojevich, sought to begin to address this situation. Earlier this year,
aware of the key role that the HCV program played in guaranteeing affordable
housing to low-income families, Gov. Blagojevich also signed the Housing
Opportunity Tax Incentive Act, which gave tax incentives to landlords accepting
HCV holders in low-poverty areas.
In the coming weeks, the VA-HUD Appropriations bill containing
for the HCV program will be considered by the full Senate, and then
by a House-Senate conference committee. It is not too late
to call representatives
and senators and urge them to guarantee full funding of the HCV program. The
National Low Income Housing
is orchestrating efforts and has extensive information on
making outreach efforts to political leaders.