January 31, 2019

Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Help Families Relocate to Greater Opportunity Areas

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) today 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 currently fail to meet their mobility goals. TheHousing Choice Voucher Mobility Demonstration Act (S. 291) authorizes a demonstration to help families receiving housing vouchers move to areas with greater opportunities. Senators Young and Van Hollen introduced similar legislation last Congress.

“Families in Indiana and throughout America deserve the chance to live in the neighborhoods that best suit their needs, which may include access to more affordable housing, better education, transportation, or lower-crime,” said Senator Young. “Our legislation will help ensure the Housing Choice Voucher Program better serves families who need to relocate to areas with greater opportunity.”  

“As we work to make sure families have access to affordable housing, we must also ensure that people have the ability to relocate to areas that are closer to a new job or their child’s school. This bipartisan legislation is a win-win for families in Maryland and across our country, expanding opportunities and accessibility,” said Senator Van Hollen

“Ensuring that working families in Florida have the opportunity and ability to pursue the American Dream remains one my highest priorities in Washington,” Senator Rubio said. “This bipartisan legislation will ensure that working families not only have access to affordable housing, but also the ability to live and work in areas of greater opportunity that meet their specific needs.”

“Access to affordable housing is essential for families in Minnesota and across the country, but affordability isn’t enough,” said Senator Klobuchar. “This bipartisan legislation seeks to ensure that families have greater opportunities to live and work in areas where they’re not only able to afford rent, but also improve their lives.”

“This bipartisan bill will give hardworking Americans more flexibility to live, work, and send their kids to schools in areas where there are more opportunities to succeed,” said Senator Blunt. “I urge my colleagues to support this effort to help people create a better future for themselves and their families.”

“This bipartisan legislation will give people the flexibility to access affordable housing in areas where they may have more opportunities, whether that is moving closer to a job or to a place with better transportation or higher quality health care,” said Senator Hassan. “I will keep working across party lines to move this common-sense bill forward to help expand opportunity for more families in New Hampshire and across the country.”

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 HUD 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.