May 29, 2018

Bipartisan Bill Helps Families Break Out of Poverty and Relocate to Greater Opportunity Areas

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) today announced they introduced legislation to incentivize greater choice and mobility in the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Housing Choice Voucher Program. Evidence shows that Housing Choice Vouchers as currently implemented fail to meet their mobility goals. This legislation authorizes a demonstration to better enable families receiving housing vouchers to move to areas with greater opportunities.

Families should have the opportunity to live in neighborhoods that work best for their needs. Three out of five of today’s children live in a distressed zip code that is hindering their mobility and opportunity, further engraining them in the generational cycle of poverty. When a child grows up in a high opportunity area, they are more likely to have successful life outcomes. Whether it be lower-crime, better education, access to transportation, quality healthcare, or suitable housing, higher opportunity areas offer children a greater chance to succeed.

“As I travel the state of Indiana and discuss my Fair Shot Agenda with Hoosiers, one thing I hear repeatedly is the need to help families live and work closer to where the opportunities are,” said Senator Young. “Although the intent of the Housing Choice Voucher Program is to give families greater housing mobility, it has fallen short of meeting that objective. This bill will help solve this problem by incentivizing choice and helping families relocate to high opportunity areas.”

“Ensuring that families have access to affordable housing is crucial – but we can’t stop there. We need to make sure that people have the ability to relocate to areas that are closer to a new job or their child’s school. This bipartisan legislation will expand opportunities for families across Maryland and our country, and I’m proud to join Senator Young in introducing this bill,” said Senator Van Hollen.

The Housing Choice Voucher Mobility Demonstration Act would require public housing authorities (PHAs) to submit a regional housing mobility plan detailing how the proposed group will assist families in moving to higher opportunity areas. It would authorize HUD to award demonstration program funds on a competitive basis and prioritize regional collaborations among PHAs that have high concentrations of voucher holders in low-opportunity neighborhoods and an adequate number of moderately-priced rental units in higher-opportunity areas, an existing high-performing Family Self Sufficiency program, or a strong regional collaboration including one or more small housing agencies, among other factors.

Regional housing mobility plans would be required to include the following information:

  • Identify the public housing agencies that will participate under the plan and the number of vouchers each participating public housing agency will make available out of their existing programs in connection with the demonstration.
  • Identify any community-based organizations, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and other entities that will participate under the plan and describe the commitments for the participation made by each such entity.
  • Identify any waivers or alternative requirements requested for the execution of the plan.
  • Identify any specific actions that the public housing agencies and other entities will undertake to accomplish the goals of the demonstration program, which shall include a comprehensive approach to enable a successful transition to opportunity areas and may include counseling and continued support for families.
  • Specify the criteria that the public housing agencies would use to identify opportunity areas under the plan.
  • Provide for the establishment of priority and preferences for families receiving assistance under the demonstration program, including a preference for families with young children, as such term is defined by the HUD Secretary, based on regional housing needs and priorities.
  • Comply with any other requirements established by the Secretary.

Five years after implementation of the demonstration program, HUD will submit a report evaluating the effectiveness of the program which will help identify the most cost-effective methods to move families to higher-opportunity areas.

Click here to view the bill text.