On July 10, the House Financial Services Committee approved, by voice vote, legislation (H.R. 3995) designed to increase the availability of affordable housing and to expand home ownership opportunities for low- and middle-income families. Mark-up of the bill began on June 20 (see The Source, 6/21/02).
Sponsored by Rep. Marge Roukema (R-NJ), H.R. 3995 would reauthorize a number of programs under the jurisdiction of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), including the Homeless Housing Programs through 2004 and the Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA) program through 2004. The legislation also would create several new initiatives, including a program to reduce down payment requirements for teachers and public safety officers and a demonstration program to provide grants to a small number of properties that house intergenerational families headed by a grandparent.
The committee adopted, by voice vote, an amendment by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) that would protect victims of domestic violence from the “one-strike” policy administered by HUD. Under current law, public housing tenants are subject to eviction if a guest or family member engages in a criminal activity, even if that activity occurs outside of the home. The amendment would not repeal the one-strike policy, but rather would protect victims of domestic violence and their children who are subject to eviction for the wrongdoing of others.
Rep. Lee pointed out that women are often reluctant to report their abusers. These victims “fear not only their attacker, but also eviction,” she said. This amendment would protect innocent tenants and “get the real abusers out of the house,” she added.
The committee approved a number of amendments by voice vote, including one by Reps. Sue Kelly (R-NY) and Bernard Sanders (I-VT) that would establish a federal matching grant program to state and local housing trust funds to boost the supply of affordable housing for low-income families. Currently, there are 280 housing trust funds in 36 states.
The committee earlier rejected, 34-35, an amendment by Rep. Sanders that would have established a federal matching grant program directly to states and local jurisdictions to increase the supply of affordable housing for needy families.
Additionally, the committee rejected, by voice vote, an amendment by Rep. Lee that would have reauthorized through FY2005 a program aimed at fighting drugs in public housing projects.