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Guest Blogger Barbara Sard: Tucked Away in the Foreclosure Bill

The foreclosure legislation signed into law this summer (H.R. 3221) is best known for its provisions aimed at stabilizing the home ownership market – and for the landmark creation of an Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

But tucked away in the bill were some important improvements in existing rental housing programs for lower-income Americans.

First, the bill includes a series of reforms that will make it easier for housing agencies and developers to use “project-based” vouchers to provide affordable rental opportunities in mixed-income settings. (Using these “project-based” vouchers, agencies are currently allowed to tie up to 20 percent of their housing vouchers to particular buildings sites.)

Second, the bill expands access for voucher holders to properties funded by HOME or the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, while protecting families against extra out-of-pocket costs for such rentals.

Third, the bill increases the amount of Low Income Housing Tax Credits that will be available this year and next. It also contains the first-ever requirement that data be collected on characteristics of the residents of tax credit properties. Knowing more about the age, race, income, disability status and family composition of this group will help inform public policy decisions for years to come.

Sometimes big bills provide the opportunity for modest changes that have languished on the legislative to-do list for months or even years. This was definitely one of those times.

Go here for a fuller description of these provisions.

Barbara Sard is the director of housing policy for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The housing work of the Center is focused primarily on the intersection of housing and welfare reform at the national, state and local levels. Sard’s work focuses on low-income housing policy, including the housing voucher program and admission to subsidized housing.
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