Act now to reform housing voucher legislation needed to create and preserve affordable housing - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Act now to reform housing voucher legislation needed to create and preserve affordable housing

Contact U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) to urge her to support much needed changes in the way the Housing Choice Voucher program works.

Project-based vouchers are often the only tool available in some areas to create long-term affordable housing for low-income families. Because project-based vouchers stay with the unit, they ensure that a specific home stays affordable for years, helping a town or local housing authority preserve much-needed stable affordable housing. They are the perfect complement to the tenant-based, mobile subsidies provided by the Housing Choice Voucher program.

Congress is currently discussing the need to reform the legislation that governs the housing voucher program. The Section 8 Voucher Reform Act (SEVRA) of 2007 proposes a number of improvements, including a much-needed, improved funding formula. This is a key opportunity to introduce a number of changes in the project-based voucher legislation. These include:

  • Allowing housing authorities to project-base up to 25 percent of voucher funds.
  • Changing the maximum initial contract between a housing authority and a landlord or developer  from 10 to 15 years to ensure longer-term affordability.
  • Allowing a wider variety of developments to be eligible for funds
  • Add exceptions to the “no more than 25 percent of project-based vouchers per development” rule for small projects (with 25 units or fewer) and projects in areas where vouchers are difficult to use
  • Allowing project-based vouchers to be used in co-ops and elevator buildings.
  • Clarifying that expiring project-based contracts can be converted to new project-based contracts to avoid losing any of the shrinking affordable housing stock.
  • Making financing for these projects easier by streamlining the review process for developers.
  • Allowing owners and housing authorities to create their own, customized rental contracts.
  • Permitting owner-managed, site-based waiting lists.
  • Authorizing project-based vouchers instead of enhanced vouchers —which are provided to protect existing tenants from displacement for reasons out of their control— to protect the displaced tenant while guaranteeing long-term affordability for the unit .

The Metropolitan Planning Council has joined multiple organizations from around the country to support SEVRA (H.R. 5443) and the above changes as necessary tools to preserve and grow affordable housing options. Please urge U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.), ranking member of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity, or your own congressional representative to support the amendments proposed for this new legislation and the specific changes affecting the Project-Based Voucher program.

 

You can contact Rep. Biggert by phone at (202) 225-3515 or by visiting the Judy Biggert Web site.

 

Download a draft of the SEVRA bill or more information on the specific changes to the Project-Based Voucher program proposed in the SEVRA legislation.

 

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