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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.|
In his fiscal year (FY) 2014 Budget Proposal, the President recommended providing $20 billion for Tenant-Based Rental Assistance, including $75 million for approximately 10,000 new HUD-VASH vouchers and $111 million for new mainstream vouchers provided by the Section 811 Program. The budget proposal also includes a significant increase for the Project-Based Rental Assistance voucher program to $10.272 billion.
The House and Senate Appropriations Committees released their compromised, finalized FY 2014 funding legislation on January 15, which quickly passed through both chambers of congress and was signed into law by the President on January 17. The legislation included $19.177 billion for Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers (Tenant-Based Rental Assistance), including $75 million for approximately 10,000 new HUD-VASH vouchers and $107 million for new mainstream Section 811 vouchers. This represents an overall funding increase of approximately $1.2 billion for the program. By the Alliance’s initial estimates, this would be enough to cover renewals currently in use, but not enough to get the program back to pre-sequestration levels.
The legislation also includes $9.917 billion for Project-Based Rental Assistance.
For now, the appropriations process will take a brief break, and will begin again with the release of the President’s FY 2015 Budget Proposal at some point in February.
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. This past 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 Budget Proposal also includes 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.