WASHINGTON, D.C. – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Representative Ed Royce (R-Calif.) recently questioned witnesses on how to increase efficiency and local control in public housing spending during a Housing and Insurance Subcommittee hearing entitled “The Future of Housing In America: A Better Way to Increase Efficiencies For Housing Vouchers and Create Upward Economic Mobility.”
“The cost of the Housing Choice Voucher program consists of two parts: payments to owners to cover the difference between a tenant’s contribution and rent; and administrative fees paid to participating housing authorities. Logic would dictate that reducing the resources expended on one would free up resources for the other. But the pool to draw these resources from is not infinite. The housing authorities in my district are unable to accept applicants to Section 8 waitlists, they tell me because administrative costs are rising. I’d like to ask Ms. Sard – you pointed to housing authority consolidation and also HUD shuttering poorly performing housing authorities as a way to increase efficiency. How will that alleviate the wait for families in need?” askedRep. Royce.
“I want the Committee to be clear, today’s consortia rules don’t create the kinds of efficiencies that they potentially could. That makes them less attractive to PHAs and less useful to families. We need changes. The key thing is to allow the agencies that agree to form consortia to have a single funding contract with HUD. That means instead of each of them doing all the paperwork, and HUD doing all the paperwork on reporting, that saves time. It saves time on maintenance of waiting lists. Right now, each individual housing authority maintains their own waiting list. Families often apply to as many as they can in an area to maximize their chances of getting assistance, as they should. But that’s a waste of resources,” answered Ms. Barbara Sard, Vice President of Housing Policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
“Speaking of efficiency, I’m encouraged by HUD’s Moving-to-Work contract renewals and expansion of the pilot program. Through ‘local payment standards,’ the Housing Authority of San Bernardino County in my district oversaw a reduction in per unit cost from $730 to $652 in addition to a 9% decrease in residents living in the two highest poverty areas. Talk about a win-win: Spending more efficiently there while moving residents closer to better opportunities, which is why the board really likes the program. Ms. Blom, how has the MTW contributed to economic mobility and efficiency in public housing? What characteristics can be replicated in other affordable housing programs so authorities like San Bernardino’s can expand their success? I’ve expressed my feelings about this to Secretary Castro many times, I’m glad to see HUD making progress – albeit slowly,” continued Rep. Royce.
“The Moving-to-Work demonstration that currently has 39 agencies participating in it, including San Bernardino, have been leading the way on reducing administrative costs and providing more housing choice and self-sufficiency options to families. We use that as one of the pieces of information to help inform the streamlining rule that we published in April. But going forward, with regard to the 100 PHA expansion on MTW, we are going to be rigorously studying the policy areas for that expansion so that we can better utilize that research to be able to make changes, and simplify, and reduce the burden to housing authorities. So I appreciate your support,” answered Ms. Dominique Blom, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Public Housing Investments at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“I think with regard to consortium, the Department believes that this is a vehicle that housing authorities should voluntarily choose to do. We are looking to provide guidance on consortia beyond just the voucher program but also with public housing, we need to look at that in a unified way,” continued Ms. Blom when prompted.
Saat Alety (202-225-4111)
Source: U.S. Representative Ed Royce