The undersigned organizations, which include a broad cross-section of stakeholders in affordable housing, urge you to take action to enact rental assistance reform legislation early in 2013. It is critical that the Banking Committee act promptly on this good government legislation since the savings and efficiencies it would create are urgently needed and should be enacted in time to take effect in fiscal year 2014. HUD’s rental assistance programs face difficult budget pressures, and reform legislation would help state and local agencies stretch limited funds and minimize the risk of harsh cuts in assistance to needy families.
In Massachusetts, where 62% of extremely low income (ELI) households pay more than half of their income for rent, there are only 45 affordable and available units for every 100 households. Currently, there are 74,945 Housing Choice Vouchers; 58,053 Project Based Section 8 Rental Assistance units; and 33,786 public housing units in the state. Housing providers are currently struggling to meet the needs of extremely low income Massachusettsians. Rental assistance reform legislation would improve housing programs for all stakeholders, including housing providers, communities, and the lowest income renters.
We have attached
[page 2] a list of ten specific, high-priority reforms that we believe should be included in legislation. These reforms would reduce program costs by more than $2.3 billion over five years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The reforms ease administrative burdens for housing agencies and owners, deliver fairer and more efficient assistance to low-income families, provide new tools to leverage private capital for affordable housing preservation and development and encourage self-sufficiency.
These reforms all have broad support from state and local housing agencies, low-income housing advocates, for-profit and non-profit affordable housing providers, and other stakeholders. In addition, they have all been vetted by Congress in previous sessions, and most were included in the Affordable Housing and Self-Sufficiency Improvement Act developed by the House Financial Services Committee in 2012.
The Banking Committee held two important hearings in the second half of 2012 that highlighted the pressing need for rental assistance reform and the broad consensus behind the core reforms. Your continued leadership will be essential to enacting legislation this year.
We look forward to working with you to enact rental assistance reform legislation.