Federal Voucher Reform Bill Will Harm Poorest Tenants

The federal government is about to remove the cap that limits the amount of rent that can be charged to the poorest of the poor. Yet, there are no caps on how much money the executives in the so-called affordable housing industry can grab for their often excessively high salaries and wage compensation.

Commentary by Lynda Carson

 

As so-called charities and nonprofit affordable housing developers are grabbing more and more funds from the nation’s affordable housing programs to pay their extremely high salaries, there is less money to go around for the needs of the poor, and to subsidize low-income renters.

As a direct result, on behalf of the affordable housing industry that wants to keep these high salaries in place, the federal government is about to remove the cap that limits the amount of rent that can be charged to the poorest of the poor.

Yet, there are no caps on how much money the executives in the so-called affordable housing industry can grab for their often excessively high salaries and wage compensation.

A revised draft of the proposed voucher reform bill was released by Republican staff of the House Financial Services Committee on Jan, 13, 2012. In essence, the voucher reform bill would end an existing cap on the amount of monthly rent that poor residents can be forced to pay. If the proposed new measure is passed into law, it would negatively affect low-income residents throughout the country who reside in public housing, or live in subsidized housing units, or hold Section 8 vouchers.

Rather than asking affordable housing developers to reduce their exorbitant salaries, the poor are being asked to give more of what little they have, or face eviction from subsidized housing.

As an example: Project-based Section 8 tenants typically pay 30 percent of their monthly income toward rent, with rental assistance making up the difference between what the tenants can afford and the approved rent. But even tenants with very little or no income are required to pay something. Currently, if 30 percent of a tenant’s income is less than $50, he or she can be charged a minimum rent of up to $50 a month.

Under the draft of the new law, the cap on the minimum rent would be lifted. The new minimum rent would be set at least $69.45, and would be annually indexed to inflation.

If the caps are removed there will be no limits to rent increases. “The current HUD secretary, or the next one could go beyond,” said Linda Couch of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. With the cap removed, “there is no limit.”

“Freedom of Assembly.” This artwork by Art Hazelwood is one of four panels that portray the way our nation has utterly failed to honor the “Four Freedoms” proclaimed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression.

 

Any and all tenants that cannot pay the new rent increases being demanded of them face eviction.

Meanwhile, covetous executives in the so-called affordable housing industry are allowed to continue grabbing more funds for their excessive salaries.

All tenants living in affordable housing projects are urged to unite and protest. They are urged to demand in writing that executives and employees in the organizations that own and manage the buildings they reside in must roll back their salaries and wage compensation to less than $80,000 per year!

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