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New law helps relocate families to greater opportunity areas

WASHINGTON – Thursday, Feb. 21, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) announced that the Senate voted to pass and provide funding for their housing legislation, which will incentivize greater choice and mobility in the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Housing Choice Voucher Program. The Housing Choice Voucher Mobility Demonstration Act was included in the larger government funding bill that passed the Senate last week and was subsequently signed into law. The package also provides $28 million in funding to carry out the Senators’ legislation.

 

Evidence shows that Housing Choice Vouchers as currently implemented fail to meet their mobility goals. This legislation authorizes a demonstration to help families receiving housing vouchers move to areas with greater opportunities.

 

“As we work to make sure families have access to affordable housing, we must also ensure that people have the ability to relocate to areas that are closer to a new job or their child’s school. Senator Young and I have a bipartisan proposal to do just that, and I’m pleased that it has been included in the Conference Committee’s funding package. This is a win-win for families in Maryland and across our country, expanding opportunities and accessibility,” said Senator Van Hollen.

 

“Three out of five of today’s children live in a distressed zip code – hindering their access to opportunity, and ingraining them in the generational cycle of poverty,” said Senator Young. “This bill, which is now law, will help families live and work in areas that offer more opportunity, lower crime, and more suitable housing.”

 

The Housing Choice Voucher Mobility Demonstration Act requires public housing authorities (PHAs) to submit a regional housing mobility plan detailing how the proposed group will assist families in moving to higher opportunity areas. It would authorize HUD to award demonstration program funds on a competitive basis and prioritize regional collaborations among PHAs that have high concentrations of voucher holders in low-opportunity neighborhoods and an adequate number of moderately-priced rental units in higher-opportunity areas, an existing high-performing Family Self Sufficiency program, or a strong regional collaboration including one or more small housing agencies, among other factors.

 

Senators Van Hollen and Young reintroduced the Housing Choice Voucher Mobility Demonstration Act last month with Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.). Senators Van Hollen and Young introduced similar legislation last Congress.

Regional housing mobility plans will now be required to include the following information:

·         Identify the public housing agencies that will participate under the plan and the number of vouchers each participating public housing agency will make available out of their existing programs in connection with the demonstration.

·         Identify any community-based organizations, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and other entities that will participate under the plan and describe the commitments for the participation made by each such entity.

·         Identify any waivers or alternative requirements requested for the execution of the plan.

·         Identify any specific actions that the public housing agencies and other entities will undertake to accomplish the goals of the demonstration program, which shall include a comprehensive approach to enable a successful transition to opportunity areas and may include counseling and continued support for families.

·         Specify the criteria that the public housing agencies would use to identify opportunity areas under the plan.

·         Provide for the establishment of priority and preferences for families receiving assistance under the demonstration program, including a preference for families with young children, as such term is defined by the HUD Secretary, based on regional housing needs and priorities.

·         Comply with any other requirements established by the HUD Secretary.

 

Five years after implementation of the demonstration program, HUD will submit a report evaluating the effectiveness of the program which will help identify the most cost-effective methods to move families to higher-opportunity areas.

Click here to view the bill text.

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