A proposal to modernize and reform the Section 8 housing voucher program will be discussed at a subcommittee hearing on Thursday.
On June 16, the Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity Subcommittee released a discussion draft of legislation to streamline the operations and improve the effectiveness of the Section 8 program. During the hearing on Thursday, Subcommittee members will examine the draft proposal, which includes provisions to foster self-sufficiency among recipients of housing assistance by linking that assistance to job training, financial literacy and educational opportunities.
"Our goal is to provide more than just a roof over the heads of struggling families," said Subcommittee Chairman Judy Biggert. "A modern, effective Section 8 program should give local housing authorities the flexibility they need to help recipients get on a path to self-sufficiency. By linking rental assistance with new opportunities for job training, employment, financial literacy, and education, we can help more families achieve economic independence, and our hearing will provide valuable input on how these programs can and should be implemented."
The Section 8 program, administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), serves more than two million low-income households. Section 8 vouchers are subsidies that low-income families use in the private market to lower their rental costs to 30 percent of their incomes.
The program has consumed an increasingly large part of HUD's budget over the past decade. In 2002, Section 8 accounted for 46 percent of HUD's annual budget. For fiscal year 2012, the Obama Administration has requested $28.6 billion for Section 8, which accounts for 60 percent of HUD's total budget request of $47.1 billion.
"For far too long we have accepted the notion that compassion in housing assistance was defined by the amount of dollars spent and not the manner of assistance provided. We have accepted the notion that adding more vouchers to our system was a metric of accomplishment and not an indication of the system's failure. The Subcommittee is considering a better approach. It begins with the honest recognition that our system of federal housing programs is broken, and the people it purports to serve are not truly served at all," said Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus.
The Subcommittee hearing will take place on Thursday, October 13 at 2 p.m. in room 2128 Rayburn.