Improvements to Appropriations Bills Needed to Protect Housing Vouchers in 2005
Publication Date: November 2004
Special Collection: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Keywords: Housing assistance; Income diversity; Economic inequality; Section 8
The Senate and House Appropriations Committees have each approved bills funding the “Section 8” Housing Choice Voucher program and other HUD programs in fiscal year 2005. Neither committee approved the Administration’s proposal to convert the voucher program to a block grant. In addition, both committees rejected deep cuts sought by the Administration in funding for the voucher program, which helps about two million needy households — primarily low-income working families, the elderly, and people with disabilities — to afford modest housing in the private market.
The funding level in the House bill, however, is still somewhat below the amount needed to support all of the authorized housing vouchers that would otherwise be used during fiscal year 2004. In addition, both bills contain provisions regarding the distribution of voucher funds by HUD to state and local housing agencies that raise serious concerns. These provisions take on particular significance because during fiscal year 2004, HUD distributed funding to housing agencies in a manner that provided some agencies with more funding than they needed to support their vouchers while at the same time providing other agencies with too little funding and consequently forcing them to cut voucher assistance levels.
Unless Congress improves these provisions when the House and Senate bills are reconciled by a conference committee (which may occur at the staff level as soon as the week of November 8), there is a serious risk that low-income families will face further cuts in 2005.