House subcommittee holds hearing on Housing Choice Voucher Program

The House Housing and Insurance Subcommittee held a hearing this week to review the Housing Choice Voucher Program and three legislative proposals that seek to enhance it.

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One of the three bills is the Housing Choice Voucher Mobility Demonstration Act of 2018, which would encourage families receiving such voucher assistance to move to lower-poverty areas and expand access to opportunity areas.

Another is the Transitional Housing for Opioid Recovery Demonstration Program Act of 2018, which would set aside section 8 housing vouchers for individuals recovering from opioid addiction.

The third is the Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act of 2018, which would amend the United States Housing Act of 1937 to include within the definition of “families” a child who is in foster care.

“Today’s hearing was essential for us to examine how we can help ensure low-income families and the impoverished are not left on the streets and in the cold. We focused on three different discussion drafts that use the Housing Choice Voucher Program, which is administered locally by public housing agencies, as a tool to increase mobility and lead families or individuals to better opportunities,” Subcommittee Chairman Sean Duffy (R-WI) said. “We are fortunate to have heard feedback from this panel to identify issues in the discussion draft that need refining.”

Barbara Sard, vice president for housing policy at the Center for Budget & Policy Priorities, said enacting the Housing Choice Voucher Mobility Demonstration Act is an important step Congress can take to help Americans afford decent, stable homes.

“The “Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act of 2017” offers a cost-neutral, two-pronged approach (early application and priority preference) to synchronize public resources for young people transitioning to independence from foster care.  Additionally, the bill incorporates recommendations by former foster youth to ensure that housing is used as a platform for self-sufficiency,” Ruth White, executive director of the National Center for Housing & Child Welfare, said.

Dean Hammond, a board member for the Foundation for Affordable Housing in Kentucky, said it is imperative to approach the opioid crisis with full knowledge of the client in recovery.

“And, we need to understand that some will not be able to overcome this dreaded condition. Addiction is a killer, and needs to be dealt with seriously,” Hammond said. “Shouldn’t we give the champions a chance to rise?”