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11/20/2019 - Safe and Decent? Examining the Current State of Residents' Health...(EventID=110250)

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Streamed live on Nov 20, 2019

Wednesday, November 20, 2019 (2:00 PM) -- Hearing: "Safe and Decent? Examining the Current State of Residents’ Health and Safety in HUD Housing" - Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development, and Insurance (Committee on Financial Services)

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This will be a one-panel hearing with the following witnesses:

• Susan Rollins, Executive Director, Housing Authority of St. Louis County
• Margaret Salazar, Executive Director, Oregon Housing and Community Services Department
• Deborah Thrope, Deputy Director, National Housing Law Project
• Geraldine Collins, Board President, National Alliance of HUD Tenants
• Shalonda Rivers, President and Resident, 22nd Avenue Apartment Tenants Association
• Orlando Cabrera, Partner, Arnall Golden Gregory

Purpose

This hearing will allow Members to hear from witnesses about residents face ongoing issues with the physical condition of their homes due to chronic underfunding, insufficient HUD oversight and enforcement, and lack of compliancewith HUD requirements by some landlords participating in HUD programs.

HUD Rental Assistance Programs: Public Housing

Public housing plays a critical role in addressing America’s affordable housing needs and is home
to more than 2.6 million low-income seniors, people with disabilities, families with children, and other individuals. Funding for public housing, however, has decreased significantly beginning in the 1980s. In 2016, funding for repairs had fallen 53 percent since 2000, while Congress had only provided sufficient funding for public housing operations only three times during the same time period. Between 2010 and 2016, after the Budget Control Act when into effect, Congress cut public housing by $1.6 billion. While Congress recently increased funding for public housing in fiscal years 2018 and 2019, overall funding for the program is still 12.5 percent lower than the FY 2010 funding level, after adjusting for inflation. As a result of this underfunding, there is an estimated $70 billion backlog in needed capital repairs to fix tenants’ homes from substandard and unsafe conditions, and more than 10,000 public housing homes are lost each year due to disrepair.6 Increasingly, public housing agencies (PHAs) are being pressured by HUD to “reposition” their housing stock through voluntary conversions to vouchers, demolition or disposition, or convert their units to Section 8 housing under the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD).

Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance

The Section 8 project-based rental assistance (PBRA) program leverages private sector resources
to develop and operate rental homes that are affordable to 1.2 million low income families across the nation. Unlike the public housing capital and operating funds, which have been chronically underfunded for decades, the Section 8 programs have historically been funded at levels that meet the estimated needs each year. While most PBRA properties are in good physical condition some private owners have failed to maintain safe and decent living conditions that they are contractually obligated to provide. Due in part to understaffing and lack of uniform training and oversight across HUD field offices, HUD has also failed to consistently utilize its current enforcement authorities to ensure that every PBRA property is owned and managed to a high standard.

Housing Choice Vouchers

The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program ensures that more than 2 million low-income families can afford their homes. Under the program, a PHA issues an HCV to a family who can then use the voucher to subsidize the rent for a rental home in the private market. The family is generally responsible for finding a rental home and can only choose from homes in which the owner has agreed to comply with all HCV program requirements. One of the HCV program requirements is that the rental unit must pass a Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspection performed by the PHA. Voucher holders often have trouble finding apartments in high opportunity areas due to a variety of factors, including discrimination9 and lack of resources for landlord engagement. As a result, HCV families are often concentrated in poor neighborhoods, where much of the housing stock is older, and may be more prone to having various health hazards, such as lead, asthma-triggering mold, and vermin.

Current Issues

Inspection Protocol

HUD’s Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) was established in 1997 to evaluate the physical
conditions of public and PBRA multifamily housing properties...

Hearing page: https://financialservices.house.gov/c...

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