Archive for July 17th, 2009

17th July
2009
written by naehblog


Welcome to another edition of the Friday news roundup!

So, in the news: aftershock of the AHAR report, rising veteran homelessness, and – evidently – a survey of the cities that are “meanest” to homeless people.

But one article in particular stood out to me – and it has nothing to do with reports, veterans, or mean cities.

It has to do with a little bill called SEVRA: the Section 8 Voucher Reform Act.

Section 8 is a housing assistance program administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

It works like this:

  • You’re a low-income family, and you qualify for Section 8.
  • You go out and find an apartment that works for you.
  • You pay 30 percent of your household income towards your rent and your local public housing authority takes the money that HUD gave them to cover the rest.

A couple caveats:

  • You have to qualify for public housing assistance
  • You can’t pick a crazy-expensive apartment, and
  • The apartment has to meet HUD quality regulations.


The goal of Section 8 is to give low-income families more housing options, that is, outside the limits of public housing. The Section 8 program assists more than 1.4 million households with housing costs. For more on Section 8, check out the HUD website.

Of course, like all federal programs, Section 8 has it’s problems.

For one, there’s a HUGE waiting list for most Section 8 programs. Last year, the Washington Post reported that 57,000 families were on the Section 8 wait list in the District alone. What’s more, there’s some controversy over how much Section 8 money goes where. HUD decides who gets what (that is, how much money Philly gets for the Section 8 program versus San Francisco versus New York…it’s a limited pot, people) and some places use all theirs up and need more, other places don’t need so much, etc.

So SEVRA seeks to work out some of these problems. There’s a new formula to decide who gets how much, there’s some language about making more vouchers available to families, and an effort to streamline the process so it’s more efficient. Changes that, according to the Alliance, would be mostly positive.

Last week, the House Financial Services Committee began reviewing SEVRA, and Congressman Tom Price (R-GA), introduced an amendment to prohibit firearm regulations in federally assisted housing.

As it stands, state and localities have the authority to regulate firearms in federally assisted housing: some states regulate against guns, some states don’t.

The House Financial Services Committee adopted the amendment.

On Wednesday, the New York Times published a strongly-worded editorial about the firearms amendment, encouraging members of the committee to stand up against it.

The editorial board hammered pretty hard, in my opinion, saying “…the gun amendment was approved 38 to 31 in the House Financial Services Committee, with 13 Democrats nce more opting for the gun lobby’s zealotry over the cause of public safety.”

While the Alliance doesn’t take a stance on non-housing related issues, we do firmly believe that SEVRA is important legislation and necessitates careful consideration and deliberation.

Check out the editorial, okay? It’s a good read.

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