Senators Jon Tester and Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) are pushing a bipartisan proposal that cuts burdensome red tape for small public housing agencies nationwide so they can more easily provide affordable housing.
Tester and Johanns' Small Housing Opportunity Act would simplify strict inspection and compliance requirements and eliminate excessive paperwork for public housing authorities that support fewer than 550 households. The changes will better match the requirements with the resources of small public housing agencies and allow them to focus on serving low-income families.
Small public housing agencies are currently required to follow the same reporting and inspection rules as large, urban housing authorities even though they have far fewer resources and control fewer housing units. Recent federal budgets have also reduced support for public housing, and cuts have disproportionately impacted small and rural housing agencies.
"Federal regulations should ensure that small rural housing agencies are not hindered when providing affordable housing to rural communities," Tester said. "This bipartisan plan will make sure rural housing agencies aren't overburdened and that they have the flexibility they need to serve their communities."
"It doesn't make sense for small housing authorities in rural communities to be required to follow the same burdensome mandates as those located in urban areas," Johanns said. "There is a big difference between housing needs in York, Nebraska and those in New York City. This legislation removes that one-size fits all approach and gives small housing authorities the flexibility to operate more effectively and efficiently."
Tester also said the measure would help reduce regulatory burdens on housing officials in Sidney as they grapple with rapid growth due to Bakken development.
Tester and Johanns also recently teamed up to introduce legislation to streamline the state insurance licensing system and increase consumer protections. The Senators pushed their bill at the first hearing of their new Banking subcommittee that oversees financial markets and government-sponsored housing organizations Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.