Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

House Banking Panel Passes Troubling Assisted Housing Reforms

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

House Banking Panel Passes Troubling Assisted Housing Reforms

Article excerpt

After three days of heated debate and consideration of 75 amendments, the House Committee on Banking completed its mark-up of public and assisted housing reforms.

The changes proposed could have significant impacts on cities leading to witholding of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. There are a number of troubling elements in the "United States Housing Act of 1995" which could affect cities. One that will be of particular concern to cities would impose sanctions on units of local government that "contribute substantially" to a public housing authority being "troubled." There is no definition of "substantially." The Republicans on the committee refused to acknowledge that most cities have no legal authority to control or take over public and assisted housing programs and, therefore, should not be punished.

Representative Douglas Bereuter (R-Neb.), made some improvement in the final bill by substituting "substantially contribute" for the original language, which stated that through "the actions or inaction of any general unit of local government" the HUD Secretary may withhold a locality's CDBG block grant.

In her comments on the proposed reforms, NLC President Carolyn Long Banks said, "NLC worked to eliminate the CDBG sanction and to substitute incentives for cities to take over a housing authority to solve its problems. NLC will continue to promote these changes through amendments on the floor of the House, and during the House/Senate Conference in early 1996. The Senate's companion bill, "Public Housing Reform and Empowerment Act of 1995" (S.1206), has no such provision.

The basic purpose of the reforms H.R 2406 is to substantially deregulate public housing and give authorities the flexibility they need to operate efficiently with major funding cuts.

Existing housing authorities would be replaced by new Local Housing Management Authorities which would include one elected resident representative. …

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