03 Mar BPC Action Applauds Bicameral, Bipartisan Bill to Expand Access to Rental Assistance in Housing
BPC Action applauds Reps. Emanuel Cleaver II (D-MO) and John Katko (R-NY) for collaborating to introduce the bipartisan Choice in Affordable Housing Act. This legislation, the House companion bill to legislation introduced by Sens. Chris Coons (D-DE) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND), would reduce housing instability by removing barriers that complicate and deter landlord participation in HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher Program.
The HCV program helps low-income families cover the cost of renting private, market-rate housing units above what the family can afford, which has proven highly effective in reducing overcrowding, minimizing homelessness and housing instability, and enhancing economic opportunity. The program also disrupts entrenched segregation and concentrated poverty by helping low-income families live in low-poverty communities. The program’s ultimate success depends on having voucher holders find and secure suitable housing as well as having landlords willing to accept vouchers as payment.
To increase landlord acceptance of vouchers and expand access to rental assistance, the legislation would offer a financial bonus to public housing authorities that retain a dedicated landlord liaison on staff to manage PHA-landlord issues and disputes. The HCV program rightfully requires inspections of housing units, but slow inspection timelines are a major obstacle preventing landlords from accepting vouchers. Therefore, the bill would allow units to meet voucher inspection requirements if they have been inspected in the past year. The bill also would offer incentives to landlords, including signing bonuses to boost program participation in low-poverty areas and security deposit assistance to protect against damages.
The Choice in Affordable Housing Act advances a key priority of BPC’s J. Ronald Terwilliger Center for Housing Policy—enhancing federal housing assistance to low-income families so that every family, regardless of wealth or background, can live in a decent, safe, and affordable home. The bill would unleash greater potential for the HCV program to serve families in need of a stable place to live.
BPC Action urges Congress to advance this important legislation and looks forward to working with members from both parties to secure its passage into law.