Congress Passes Bipartisan Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2015
On July 14, 2016, the Senate passed H.R. 3700, the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2015 (HOTMA) by unanimous consent. It streamlines and reforms several federal housing assistance programs. The Senate passage of the House-passed version expedites the lawmaking process, as now H.R. 3700 is headed to the President’s desk and is expected to be signed into law soon.
HOTMA intends to streamline Housing Choice Voucher program inspections, make project-basing vouchers more flexible, and give public housing agencies (PHAs) greater flexibility to transfer funding between their operating and capital funds. It changes income reviews to allow residents to hold onto 100 percent of increased earnings from income longer; imposes housing assistance limits for households with incomes above 120 percent of the poverty level; streamlines income deductions, while requiring hardship exemptions for negatively impacted families; allows for expedited inspection processes for units to be rented with vouchers to quicken local efforts to house families and individuals; and updates the Housing for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) distribution formula.
One notable change is a provision that amends the limitations on the number of Section 8 Project-Based Voucher (PBV) units in a project serving families. Previously, the law required that the number of PBV-assisted units in a family project could exceed 25 percent only if families in the project were “receiving” supportive services. The new law provides that the 25 percent limitation won’t apply to dwelling units made available to households “eligible” for supportive services. This should eliminate the difficult issue of mandating that families, or at least a member of a family, participate in a supportive services program or lose their assisted housing. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that HOTMA will save the government $311 million over five years.