The Choice in Affordable Housing Act was introduced in the Senate on May 20 with bipartisan support and backing from both housing advocates and housing providers—including NMHC. If enacted, this legislation would invest $500 million in the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program to help break down barriers for housing provider participation and, therefore, increase participation in “high-opportunity neighborhoods.”
NMHC has long-argued that the Section 8 HCV program could be the nation's most effective affordable housing and community development tool. However, it is plagued with inefficiencies, onerous regulatory requirements and a flawed funding system. For years NMHC has advocated to lawmakers that it is imperative we address these issues to attract private housing providers' participation in this voluntary program.
While important reforms were included in the NMHC-supported Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act (HOTMA) signed into law in 2016, the Choice in Affordable Housing Act would address many overlapping and redundant programmatic procedures that have deterred professional owners and operators from participating. Specifically, this legislation would:
- Provide $500 million to create a housing partnership fund that would permit voucher administrators to provide signing bonuses to landlords in low-poverty areas and help with security deposits;
- Increase funding to the Tribal HUD-VASH program;
- Expand upon the 2016 Small Area Fair Market Rents rule by requiring the use of neighborhood-specific data to set rents fairly;
- Reduce inspection delays by not requiring units in buildings financed by other federal housing programs to undergo a separate inspection if the unit has been inspected in the past, and allowing landlords to request a pre-inspection prior to selecting a voucher-holding resident; and
- Refocus HUD’s evaluation of housing agencies by reforming HUD’s annual evaluation of PHAs to promote an increased neighborhood diversity.
Prior to the introduction of this legislation, NMHC weighed in with bill authors, Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND), to provide feedback and offer an official endorsement, which was highlighted within the proposed legislation’s press announcement and fact sheet. NMHC will continue to work with lawmakers to ensure the passage of this critical legislation.
For more information on NMHC’s Section 8 HCV program advocacy work, please visit our webpage.
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