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Public & Assisted Housing


Enterprise Point of Contact:

Diane Yentel
Vice President, Public Policy and Government Affairs
Last Updated: August 16, 2012

Issue Background: Public & Assisted Housing

Approximately 5 million households live in Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – subsidized housing nationwide. These households are supported through a variety of financing mechanisms, some of which flows through the tenants (such as Housing Choice Vouchers), some of which flows through local government agencies (such as Public Housing), and some of which flows directly to private owners (such as Project-Based Rental Assistance). Most of these programs charge rents based on tenant income, and all are critical to helping to meet the need for decent, affordable housing for low-income Americans.
About 1.2 million of these households live in public housing, and nearly two-thirds of public housing families have at least one family member that is elderly or has a disability. Public Housing was established in 1937 and is located in over 3,300 cities, towns, and rural jurisdictions across America.

Current Policy State

In the Obama Administration’s fiscal year (FY) 2011 budget, HUD proposed a new initiative called Transforming Rental Assistance (TRA). This program would enable local housing authorities to preserve affordable housing by granting them access to capital from the private market. Over the past 10 years, approximately 150,000 public housing units have been lost due to sale or demolition, and the remaining units have unmet renovation needs of at least $20 billion.
TRA has evolved into the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program. The FY 2012 budget requested $200 million for RAD to convert up to 255,000 public housing units to long-term project-based rental assistance contracts and permit public housing authorities to leverage private capital for repairs. The FY 2012 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations legislation (Public Law Number: 112-55) provided authority for HUD to convert up to 60,000 Public Housing and moderate rehabilitation (Mod Rehab) units to Project Based Rental Assistance or Project Based Voucher contracts. The project basing of Tenant Protection Vouchers (TPVs) is permitted under this demonstration for rent supplemental and rental assistance projects in FY 2012 and 2013. However, no funding was provided for RAD in 2012. HUD published the Final RAD Notice on Thursday, July 26, 2012.
The Section Eight Voucher Reform Act (SEVRA) has been considered in Congress for years but has yet to be signed into law. SEVRA would improve the housing voucher program by establishing a stable funding system, simplifying rent-setting rules, reducing administrative burdens and encouraging agencies to assist more families. In 2011 and early 2012, the leadership of the House Committee on Financial Services began serious consideration of the latest iterations of SEVRA, most recently the Affordable Housing and Self Sufficiency Improvement Act of 2012 (AHSSIA). On Feb. 7, the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing & Community Opportunity passed AHSSIA. This version would increase housing providers’ ability to utilize project-based vouchers, among other measures. The measure is also expected to produce net savings to the government. The 112th Senate has not taken any action on voucher reform legislation.

Legislative and Regulatory Priorities

TRA/RAD is a promising way to leverage private capital to rehabilitate and preserve hundreds of thousands of public housing units. In addition, reforms to the Section 8 program and TRA/RAD could increase the number and improve the administration of project-based vouchers, an important financing tool for the creation and preservation of affordable housing. Therefore, Enterprise is working with the Administration to fine-tune the financing details and explore energy-efficient retrofits for assisted multifamily and public housing.

Publications and Resources

Current Public and Assisted Housing-Related Legislative Proposals (112th Congress)

Previous Public and Assisted Housing-Related Legislative Proposals (111th Congress)

Enterprise Resources

Policy Points: Analysis of Public and Assistance Housing Programs

Enterprise Senior Policy Director Peter Lawrence writes the monthly Policy Points column in the Novogradac Journal of Tax Credits addressing the latest topics in the affordable housing and community development field.

HOME Investment Partnerships Program

Rental Assistance Demonstration and Preceding Initiatives

Section 8 Project-Based and Tenant-Based Rental Assistance

External Resources