Affordable Housing, Federal News

Draft of New Bill to Reform HUD Rent Assistance Released; Hearing Set


The majority staff of the House Committee on Financial Services released a discussion draft of the Section Eight Savings Act of 2011 (SESA) on June 16. This is the latest iteration of what has previously been known as SEVRA, the Section Eight Voucher Reform Act. The Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing, and Community Opportunity of the Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on the discussion draft tomorrow, June 23.

The legislation as drafted would make various reforms to the housing choice voucher program, as well as the public housing and project-based Section 8 programs. The impetus for the original SEVRA legislation was HUD's action in 2004 to change the distribution of voucher renewal funding to housing agencies, causing many housing agencies to have insufficient funds to renew their vouchers and others to have more money than they were authorized to spend. The attrition of vouchers during the 2004 to 2007 period due to this change resulted in the loss of more than 150,000 vouchers.

Among the bill's key provisions, including reforms and improvements to inspections, rent calculation and income review simplifications, changes to housing programs' consideration of assets and incomes, targeting of assistance, voucher funding, the family self-sufficiency program, enhanced vouchers, project-based vouchers, fair market rents, screening of applicants, utility data, and HUD programs for persons with limited English proficiency.

The draft bill also includes new provisions never formally introduced in Congress as part of SEVRA, including an alternative rent demonstration that would allow the HUD Secretary to carry out a demonstration project for a "limited" number of families to determine the effectiveness of different rent policies and the reauthorization of the Mark to Market program for four years, through October 2, 2015. The draft SESA bill does not include entire sections from the most recent versions of SEVRA. These include the use of voucher assistance in manufactured housing and for home ownership, new policies around rent burdens, authorization of the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program, and turnover vouchers for people with disabilities and homeless veterans.

Click here to view the entire bill.


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