S 462 -- 09/23/97
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September 23, 1997

S. 462 - Public Housing Reform and Responsibility Act of 1997
(Sen. Mack (R) FL and five cosponsors)

The Administration supports the purpose of S. 462, which would reform and consolidate the Nation's public housing and Section 8 programs. The Administration appreciates the Senate's effort to provide the Department of Housing and Urban Development with the authority to implement needed management reforms, as well as the ongoing efforts to improve the bill.

However, in its current form, the bill remains flawed. The Administration believes that S. 462 is fundamentally flawed because its income targeting requirements fail to ensure that Federal housing assistance will continue its historic mission of helping those with very substantial housing needs. This is particularly true for the tenant-based assistance program, where the income eligibility level is increased and substantial previous targeting protections are removed. These provisions could result, over time, in the loss of several hundred thousand apartments for families with extremely low incomes. The problem would be addressed only partially by the proposed Manager's amendment.

Therefore, in order to provide for satisfactory income targeting, S. 462 must be amended to:

  • Target at least 75 percent of tenant-based assistance that becomes available each year to families with incomes not exceeding 30 percent of median income and retain the current maximum income eligibility level for tenant-based assistance at 50 percent of median income. This would maintain the program's focus on serving the neediest families.

  • Improve the income targeting requirements for public housing so that: (1) at least 90 percent of a public housing authority's (PHA's) new admissions have incomes not exceeding 60 percent of median income; and (2) at least 40 percent of families in occupancy at each housing development have incomes not exceeding 30 percent of median income. This would reduce the units available to very low-income families only to the extent necessary to achieve income-mixing, and would ensure access by those families to all developments.
The Administration also opposes the provision of S. 462, as reported, authorizing PHAs to obtain medical information about applicants for housing assistance, which could increase the potential that important antidiscrimination protections of Federal fair housing laws could be violated and could discourage persons with drug problems from seeking treatment. The Administration looks forward to continuing to work with the Congress to address these concerns.

In addition, the Administration will work with the Senate on other amendments to S. 462 that would make it more consistent with the Administration's public housing reform bill that was transmitted to Congress on April 18, 1997.

Pay-As-You-Go Scoring. S. 462 would affect direct spending; therefore, it is subject to the pay-as-you-go requirement of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990. OMB's preliminary scoring estimate of this bill is under development. If S. 462 is enacted with direct spending increases in FY 1998 that are not offset during the remainder of this session of Congress, a pay-as-you-go sequester would be triggered at the end of the session.

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