Section 8 Voucher Funding and Reform

Section 8 Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (the “Housing Choice Voucher program”) is the primary program assisting extremely low-income people with the cost of housing. Ongoing efforts aim to streamline and enhance the program.

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In his fiscal year (FY) 2015 Budget Proposal, the President recommended providing a significant increase to $20.045 billion for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance, including $75 million for approximately 10,000 new HUD-VASH vouchers, $108 million for new mainstream vouchers provided by the Section 811 Program, and $1.705 billion in administrative fees.

This increase to Tenant-Based Rental Assistance would allow the program to continue serving the approximately 2.2 million households already in Section 8 housing. Although the Administration further estimates that this funding level would be enough to undo some of the negative impacts of sequestration on the program, advocate groups think that serious cost-savings measures would need to be implemented in order to generate enough funding to achieve this. The budget proposal also includes a small decrease to the Project-Based Rental Assistance voucher program to $9.746 billion.

On Wednesday, May 7, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released its FY 2015 funding bill for programs under its jurisdiction, including all programs within HUD. The bill included $19.357 billion for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance, including $75 million for approximately 10,000 new HUD-VASH vouchers, $108.450 million for new mainstream vouchers provided by the Section 811 Program, and $1.350 billion in administrative fees. On Wednesday, May 21, the full House Appropriations Committee passed legislation that would fund these programs at the same levels, and on Tuesday, June 10 the full House passed similar legislation that would fund these programs at these levels.

Although the bill includes a $328 million increase in voucher contract renewals (to $17,693 in contrast to the President Budget Proposal’s $18,007), analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities suggests that this is unlikely to be sufficient to continue funding all vouchers that were funded in 2014. Furthermore, this bill reduces administrative funds without making changes to streamline agencies’ administrative functions and reduce costs. Finally, the bill does nothing to restore the approximately 40,000 Section 8 vouchers lost due to sequestration and not replaced in FY 2014 appropriations.

On Tuesday, June 3, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released its FY 2015 funding bill for programs under its jurisdiction, including all programs within HUD. The bill included $19.6 billion for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance, including $75 million for approximately 10,000 new HUD-VASH vouchers, $83 million for new mainstream vouchers provided by the Section 811 Program, and $1.555 billion in administrative fees. On Thursday, June 5, the full Senate Appropriations Committee passed legislation that would fund these programs at the same levels.

However, since Congress was not able to finalize FY 2015 funding for federal programs (including HUD programs), via the regular appropriations process in time for the start of the fiscal year, a continuing resolution (CR), or stopgap funding measure, was passed to fund the government at FY 2014 levels through December 11. At this point, Congress will either need to pass an omnibus spending bill finalizing FY 2015 funding for federal programs, including Tenant-Based Rental Assistance, or pass another short- or long-term CR to keep government programs funded at current levels ($19.177 billion for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance, including $75 million for HUD-VASH vouchers and $107 million for new mainstream vouchers provided by the Section 811 Program).

About the Section 8 Program

The Section 8 program provides rental assistance for low-income households, with 75 percent of funds being targeted at households living at or below 30 percent of area median income (AMI). Section 8 tenant-based rental assistance follows participating individuals and families, regardless of whether or not they move over the course of their subsidy. Participants in the program pay 30 percent of their incomes toward housing costs, with the program paying the remainder up to a set maximum amount. These vouchers are the leading form of low-income housing assistance, serving over two million households, including families with children, elderly households, and people with disabilities. For more information about tenant-based Section 8, also called the Housing Choice Voucher program, please see the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ webpage.

About Reform Efforts

Neither chamber of Congress has yet floated a draft of rental assistance reform legislation in the 113th Congress. Last October, national housing organizations sent a letter to the House and Senate appropriations committees urging them to include 11 key rental assistance program reforms in the final FY 2014 appropriations bill; however, many of these provisions did not make it into the final legislation. Due to the cost savings produced by reform legislation (as highlighted in the above letter), such legislation will likely be reconsidered in the future. The President's FY 2014 Budget Proposal also included a series of legislative changes to the programs intended to streamline and enhance them.

Reform of the Housing Choice Voucher program for the first time in ten years would help the program continue to provide affordable housing to millions of households, while using federal resources more efficiently. For a more in-depth analysis of proposals as they are available and other information, please see the National Low Income Housing Coalition's webpage.

Spotlight

Library Resources

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Advocacy Resource | September 25, 2013
Use these talking points in urging your Member of Congress to work with their colleagues on the Appropriations Committee to ensure that the final FY 2015 appropriations bill provides enough funding to cover renewals of all existing vouchers, recover the approximately 40,000 vouchers lost by sequestration, and add 10,000 new HUD-VASH vouchers.
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Federal Policy Brief | September 24, 2013
There has not been a major overhaul of the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, the federal government’s most widely-used form of low-income housing assistance, since the late-1990s. The Alliance encourages Congress to enact legislation that improves the Section 8 voucher program in a way that is favorable to PHAs as well as homeless and low-income populations as quickly as possible.
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Federal Policy Brief | September 24, 2013
More than 2.1 million low-income families use Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), to help pay for housing that they find in the private market. The Section 8 program is a cost-effective way to help low-income families across the country afford quality, consistent housing. Now more than ever, Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers are necessary to help families become housed and enjoy the opportunities that come with stable housing.