WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) released the following statement after introducing the Ensuring a Long-Term Housing Recovery Act, which would utilize local Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) to provide rental assistance for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recession.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the existing affordable housing crisis facing far too many families in the Puget Sound region and across the country,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “As many renters struggle to pay for the essentials and keep up with monthly rent and utilities, we must invest heavily in our most efficient and effective programs available for providing rental assistance.”
“The Ensuring a Long-Term Housing Recovery Act will invest in new housing vouchers that eligible households can stay on until their income returns to normal. Housing vouchers are proven as one of the most effective policies for reducing homelessness and housing insecurity among low-income people and underserved communities,” continued Congressman Smith. “Investing in single-issue vouchers for all income-eligible families through the Public Housing Authorities maximizes our ability to reach households in need of support and ensures that emergency rental assistance will be efficiently distributed and last as long as people need it.”
“KCHA applauds Congressman Smith for introducing this critical legislation to bring new housing resources to low-income people in Washington State,” said Stephen Norman, Executive Director of the King County Housing Authority (KCHA). “The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated how central a stable and affordable home is to a family’s wellbeing. With so many families facing mounting rental debt, Congress must address the immediate needs of people on the brink of eviction, but also recognize that low-income people across the country will not see their incomes recover overnight. A new infusion of emergency Housing Choice Vouchers would provide immediate assistance and long-term stability for low-income families who have disproportionally seen their livelihoods impacted by the pandemic.”
“In all these ways, the bill is a smart response to an unprecedented housing emergency,” said Michael Mirra, Executive Director of the Tacoma Housing Authority. “The nation has invested billions in one-time housing assistance payments during the pandemic. Doing that has been a vital effort to forestall disaster for millions of households. Yet, if the only benefit the nation gets from that enormous investment is a modest reduction in rent arrearages and perhaps a short-term delay in eviction, then we must count that as a policy and financial defeat, as well as an unrelieved disaster for the most vulnerable victims of the pandemic. In contrast, your bill recognizes the value of a Housing Choice Voucher. A voucher helps a family, and a landlord, not only to avoid disaster, but also to recover a measure of stability. That stability will, in turn, allow them to regain a measure of prosperity. That is what builds families, builds neighborhoods, and promotes a housing market that works better for all.”
Click here to read the Tacoma Housing Authority’s full letter to Rep. Smith.
"The Seattle Housing Authority thanks Representative Adam Smith (D-WA) for introducing vital legislation to provide single-use housing vouchers,” said the Seattle Housing Authority. “Millions of people in our country are experiencing an inability to maintain or get housing as they struggle with job loss, reduced hours, loss of their businesses, caring full-time for children as day care centers and schools have closed, and the myriad other destabilizing impacts of the pandemic on their lives. Now more than ever there is a need for immediate and innovative help for them. Representative Smith’s bill to provide single-use housing vouchers will provide those most in need with housing. Without these vouchers it will be an incredible challenge for local communities and housing authorities to help keep these individuals and families from spiraling into extended homelessness. Housing authorities are positioned to take on administration of these vouchers and get them into the hands of people who have no means to pay full rent as they attempt to recover and rebuild from the crisis. Housing authorities and our community partners have the experience and infrastructure in place to support this desperately needed increase in housing vouchers for those hardest-hit by the economic fallout of COVID-19.”
"The Council of Large Public Housing Authorities applauds Representative Adam Smith (D-WA) for introducing this most important legislation to provide single-use housing vouchers to communities in need,” said Sunia Zaterman, Executive Director of the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities. “The pandemic has created an urgency for a deeper investment in this form of housing assistance for long-term recovery. Single-use housing vouchers can provide immediate assistance to individuals and families and can do so more efficiently while placing the least amount of strain on local stakeholders and government services. These vouchers will assist housing authorities and communities across the country meet their most urgent housing needs arising from the coronavirus and resulting economic contraction. Housing authorities have the capacity for a rapid expansion and administration of these vouchers because the infrastructure is already in place within these agencies to support a substantial increase in voucher availability."
“As the pandemic-induced economic crisis continues, we must provide adequate federal rental assistance to help families stay in or find homes,” said Adrianne Todman, Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO). “This bill would authorize $25 billion for new Housing Choice Vouchers as well as cover fees for utilities, security deposits, and application fees. The bill would also ensure that housing authorities had the flexibility and funding to make sure that the vouchers were used as quickly as possible. NAHRO supports Congressman Smith's effort to expand vouchers to more families who need assistance.”
“PHADA is pleased to endorse the Ensuring a Long-Term Housing Recovery Act, which will provide critically needed funding to address the serious affordable rental needs of low-income households across the country,” said Timothy Kaiser, Executive Director – Public Housing Authorities Directors Association (PHADA). “As you know, these needs have been exacerbated by the Coronavirus pandemic… PHADA recognizes that this expansion of the voucher program will directly address homelessness, housing instability, and overcrowding of low-income households. It will also help tens of thousands of households to gain quickly some measure of security and stability during the pandemic, which will help them get back on their feet and recover financially. Thank you for your commitment to helping low-income households in need and responding to the economic and health crisis facing our communities. An investment of this size and at this time is a direct investment in America’s families.”
Click here to read PHADA’s full letter to Rep. Smith.
“The MTW Collaborative supports the legislation introduced by Representative Adam Smith (D-WA) to provide single-use housing vouchers to communities in need,” said Andrew Lofton, President of MTW Collaborative. “The COVID-10 pandemic has only exacerbated our nation’s ongoing housing crisis and created an even more pressing need for investment in long-term recovery through housing assistance. Public housing authorities are well positioned to support a substantial increase in voucher assistance and already have the infrastructure and capacity in place for a rapid expansion and administration of single-use vouchers."
“Tenant based assistance has long been the cornerstone of the federal housing programs and represents a proven tool to be utilized in providing much needed assistance to those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated economic impact,” said Denise Muha, Executive Director of the National Leased Housing Association. “The current network of local and state housing agencies/authorities under the current Section 8 voucher program represent an efficient delivery system to assist urban, suburban and rural renters. Importantly, your proposed bill will provide housing authorities essential flexibility in meeting the challenges of both renters and landlords perpetuated by the pandemic. The authority to address rental arrears as well as current rental needs along with waivers and the ability to offer incentives for landlord participation will be key to that effort.
Click here to read the National Leased Housing Association’s full letter to Rep. Smith.
“Universal housing vouchers are key to ending the nationwide crisis in affordable housing as well as homelessness,” said the National Alliance to End Homelessness. “Rep. Smith’s bill commands the Alliance’s support because it is a significant step in the right direction. The Alliance thanks Rep. Smith for his leadership on low income housing and homelessness issues.”
“Home has never been more important than during this pandemic," said Michael Seiwerath, Executive Director of SouthEast Effective Development. "Vouchers are an essential part of the solution to address homelessness and ensure that all our neighbors have a decent home they can afford. SouthEast Effective Development supports Congressman Smith’s leadership in expanding the number of sorely needed vouchers.”
The Ensuring a Long-Term Housing Recovery Act would provide $25 billion for single-issue vouchers through Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) to all income-eligible families.
- This would fund approximately 200,000 vouchers over five years.
- The single-issue housing vouchers sunset whenever the initial households that use them exit the program. PHAs are prohibited from reissuing these vouchers to other households.
- A portion of the $25 billion would be given to HUD to award to PHAs competitively to ensure a subset of vouchers are targeted in a manner consistent with highest need or awarded to PHAs with demonstrated capacity to issue vouchers quickly and effectively.
You can read the full text of the Ensuring a Long-Term Housing Recovery Act here.