|Congress Passes Housing Reform Bill with Rare Bi-Partisan Support
On February 2, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3700, the Housing Opportunities Through Modernization Act, by a vote of 427 Yeas to 0 Nays. This overwhelming show of support is the result of years of strong advocacy pushing these common sense reforms. Thank you to all advocates who contacted your Representative in the past few days about this important bill!
Prior to passage, H.R. 3700 was improved through the passage of several key amendments. Changes to the bill include the following, all of which passed by voice vote:
• Amendment from Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) to retain current law related to the standard $480 deduction from income for dependents, as well as for all child care costs, that public and assisted housing residents may take before their rents are calculated.
• Amendment from Representatives David Price (D-NC) and Robert Aderholt (R-AL) to update the formula for HUD’s Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program to count people living with HIV/AIDS as well as require HUD to develop regulations that incorporate a poverty factor and a housing cost factor in the updated formula. Currently, HOPWA funds are distributed based on cumulative AIDS cases, representing individuals both living with and dying from AIDS. AIDS housing advocates have been working for years to update the formula.
• Amendment from Representative Peter Welch (D-VT) to allow housing choice vouchers to cover costs beyond the rental of the land underneath a manufactured home, including helping the manufactured homeowner pay for the cost of their home, its insurance, utilities, and property taxes.
• Amendment from Representative Grace Meng (D-NY) to require HUD to publish model guidelines for minimum heating requirements for units operated by public housing agencies.
• Amendment from Representative Terri Sewell (D-AL) to require HUD to conduct a study of the impacts of H.R. 3700’s income deduction changes on rents paid by the elderly, people with disabilities, and families.
• Amendment from Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) to direct the Secretaries of HUD and the Department of Labor to produce an annual report on strategies to strengthen family economic empowerment.
An amendment from Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) to authorize HUD housing providers to report on-time rental payment to credit reporting agencies failed by voice vote during floor debate. The only amendment to receive a roll call vote was Representative Steven Palazzo’s (R-MS) effort to permanently exempt all public housing agencies in Mississippi, Iowa, Alaska, as well as the Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles, from the requirement to have a resident on their boards of commissioners. This passed by a margin of 246 Yeas to 178 Nays.
NLIHC urges all advocates to call their Representative’s office to thank them for their vote! Members of Congress need to know that we notice when they do the right thing and stand up for low income renters. To find contact information for your Representative, contact the Congressional Switchboard at 877-210-5351, or click below.
NLIHC will continue to update you as H.R. 3700 moves to the Senate for further action.
NLIHC’s February 1 action alert on H.R. 3700: http://nlihc.org/article/take-action-support-passage-hr-3700-ensure-sensible-housing-assistance-reforms.
NLIHC’s February 1 Memo to Members article on H.R. 3700: http://nlihc.org/article/housing-assistance-reform-bill-goes-house-floor-week-february-1