This week, the U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment introduced by Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) that would expand the federal housing assistance program to cover previously ineligible expenses of low income mobile home owners. The bipartisan initiative was approved as an amendment to the Housing Opportunities Through Modernization Act (H.R. 3700), which passed the House and will now go to the Senate for further consideration.
"Low-income Vermonters are struggling to make ends meet and stay in their homes," Rep. Welch said. "This legislation will provide a much-needed boost in federal assistance to low-income mobile home owners in Vermont and across the country."
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Section 8 housing choice voucher program provides financial assistance to help low-income families afford reliable housing across the country. Currently, this critical housing program disadvantages mobile home owners who are only permitted to utilize the housing voucher for the cost of the land leased underneath their home. However, the land leased is only a small portion of the cost that many mobile home owners pay for their housing.
Welch's amendment expands the scope of the housing choice voucher program to better reflect the true costs of housing for low-income mobile homeowners. It would allow the property taxes paid on the mobile home, as well as insurances, utilities, and financing, to be included as housing costs eligible for the Section 8 payment. The amendment will also provide parity between the housing vouchers received by low-income mobile home owners and those received by low-income individuals living in rental units.
In 2010, there were an estimated 22,436 mobile homes in Vermont, according to the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development.
"We are extremely grateful to Congressman Welch for his leadership on this important amendment, which provides low-income mobile home owners who lease the land under their homes with comparable assistance to that of their neighbors who rent," said Erhard Mahnke, Coordinator for the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition. "We've been hoping for a fix to this unfair policy for many years and are thrilled that it has passed the House as part of a bill that makes many other crucial and long awaited reforms to the Section 8 program. This will be of great and long lasting benefit to low-income and vulnerable Vermonter mobile home owners who struggle to pay for their housing costs," said Coordinator for Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition Erhard Mahnke.
The legislation backed by Welch is supported by the National Manufactured Home Owners Association, the National Low Income Housing Coalition, and the New England Housing Network.