On July 12, 2007, the House passed the Section 8 Voucher Reform Act of 2007, H.R. 1851. The legislation will change Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Section 8 public housing programs - expanding rental assistance opportunities, improving program efficiency, and encouraging family self-sufficiency. The bill expands the number of families receiving vouchers by 20,000 a year for each of the next five years and ensures the program works effectively for the nation's low income working families with children, elderly and disabled.
This legislation will:
- Reform the voucher funding formula to increase eligibility and eliminate inefficiency. The bill reforms the formula used to allocate Section 8 voucher funds to housing agencies in order to increase the number of families receiving vouchers - through the elimination of inefficiencies that have resulted in $1.4 billion in unused funds and through incentives for agencies to use funds to assist more families.
- Authorize 20,000 incremental Section 8 vouchers in each of the next 5 years, for a total of 100,000 new vouchers.
- Encourage Economic Self-Sufficiency. The bill includes provisions to encourage economic self-sufficiency for low income voucher and public housing families, including:
- Reducing rent disincentives related to increases in earned income
- Making it easier for low income working families in rural areas to receive a voucher
- An improved funding mechanism to help families find employment
- Income exemptions for adult full time student dependents and for education savings accounts
- Helping low income families improve their credit score by allowing reporting of voucher and public housing rent payments
- Promote Homeownership. The bill permits housing agencies to let families use a housing voucher as a down payment on a first-time home purchase.
- Simplify the voucher, public housing, and Section 8 programs. The bill changes rent calculation, recertification, and inspection rules for the voucher, public housing, and project-based Section 8 programs, to reduce costs and compliance burdens for public housing agencies, landlords, and families. These changes are made while maintaining rules that target scarce resources to those families most in need and while maintaining rent calculation rules that ensure that rents are affordable.
- Increase tenant protections. The bill makes a number of changes for the benefit of federally assisted families, including provisions to preserve voucher families' ability to move to other areas, to address excessive voucher rent burdens, to provide for more accurate fair market rent calculations, and to protect voucher holders in units that are in need of repair.
- Expand the Housing Innovation Program. The bill expands and renames the Moving to Work Program, which gives a limited number of housing agencies flexibility to experiment with development and rent policies, and strengthens the program's evaluation process.
- Attach vouchers to housing units. The bill includes changes to make it easier for housing agencies to attach vouchers to housing units - an important option in tight rental markets and in developing supportive housing for seniors, disabled persons and homeless persons.