Obama Proposal Could Transform Public Housing Terms

A proposal in President Obama's 2014 budget would allow housing authorities to tighten requirements for residents and set time limits. Housing agencies hope the changes will trim waiting lists, but opponents see more affordable housing as the answer.
May 7, 2013, 12pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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According to Jennifer Levitz, "President Barack Obama's fiscal year 2014 budget calls for 'substantial expansion' of a 1996 demonstration project that allows select housing authorities to set restrictions on residents, or try other strategies to promote self-sufficiency. Only 39 housing authorities out of 3,200 nationally have this power currently. Congressional approval was required for each one."

"Housing agencies are lobbying for the expansion," says Levitz. "They say the current system doesn't motivate residents to become financially independent and isn't fair to thousands of impoverished renters who need help now but must wait years for assistance."

However, she adds, "[t]he National Low Income Housing Coalition, an advocacy group, said the change would force people off housing assistance before they are ready."

"You are just cycling these families back to the end of these waiting lists," says Linda Couch of the coalition. "The answer is more affordable housing; it's not moving the deck chairs on the Titanic."

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Published on Monday, May 6, 2013 in The Wall Street Journal
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