House Financial Services Committee Member Introduces Public Housing Bill
On May 1, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, introduced H.R. 2231, the “Public Housing Tenant Protections and Reinvestment Act of 2015.” The bill would authorize full funding of the public housing program and seeks to provide additional funds to address the significant backlog of capital needs. The bill would require that, when public housing must be demolished or sold, the units affected would have to be replaced on a one-for-one basis, reinstating a provision that Congress eliminated in 1995. The bill also increases tenant protections to help ensure that residents who choose to may stay in their communities when public housing is redeveloped.
In a press statement about the bill, Waters said, “For generations, public housing has provided a critical bridge out of poverty for millions of Americans. Today, that bridge is crumbling due to chronic underfunding and neglect. Particularly in the midst of the current rental housing crisis, it is unconscionable that we have lost approximately 200,000 units of public housing since 2000, and we continue to lose more every year.”
One part of the bill is the Public Housing One-for-One Replacement and Tenant Protection Act of 2015. It would revise Section 18 of the Housing Act of 1937 to require each public housing unit demolished or disposed of to be replaced on a one-for-one basis with a newly constructed unit, a rehabilitated unit, a unit purchased to serve as a replacement, or project-based assistance. HUD would be required to provide tenant protection vouchers for all units, subject to appropriations. Section 18 and the proposed one-for-one replacement provisions would also apply to Section 22 voluntary conversions to vouchers, Section 33 mandatory conversions to vouchers, and units taken through eminent domain.
When public housing is demolished, at least one-third of all replacement units must be public housing units built on the original public housing site. The PHA must ensure that sufficient units will be provided on the original site or in the same neighborhood to accommodate all tenants who want to remain at that site or in the neighborhood.
No later than 90 days before submitting an application to HUD for demolition, disposition, or conversion, a PHA would have to meet with and inform all residents in writing of the PHA’s intent to apply, plans for replacement housing, and their right to return along with their relocation options. The PHA would also have to determine if a resident wants to return to replacement housing constructed on the original site or same neighborhood, to move to another neighborhood or community, or to receive a housing voucher.
HUD would be prohibited from approving an application for demolition or disposition if the PHA didn’t provide for the active involvement of residents, resident advisory boards, and resident councils during the preparation and implementation of the plan for demolition, relocation, and replacement of units. HUD would be prohibited from approving a plan to demolish, dispose of, or convert units that doesn’t affirmatively further fair housing.
Another part of the bill is the Public Housing Preservation and Rehabilitation Act of 2015. It would authorize funds for the Public Housing Capital Fund for FY 2016 through FY 2025 in “such sums as may be necessary to fully fund…the estimated need of public housing agencies….” In addition, the bill would authorize $5 billion each year to address the capital fund backlog. In 2010 a HUD-sponsored study identified a $26 billion capital needs backlog, which would become $3.4 billion deeper each year for 20 years. Title II would authorize funding for the Public Housing Operating Fund in amounts needed to fully fund the estimated need for each fiscal year from FY 2016 through FY 2025.
The bill was referred to the Financial Services Committee. It has no cosponsors.