Press Releases

Biggert: Subcommittee Will Evaluate Bill To Reform Section 8

Washington, June 20, 2011 -

The Insurance, Housing, and Community Opportunity Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Judy Biggert, will examine a legislative proposal to improve the nation’s largest affordable housing program during a hearing on Thursday.

The Section 8 housing voucher program, administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), serves over two million low-income households.  Section 8 vouchers are subsidies that low-income families use in the private market to lower their rental costs to 30 percent of their incomes.

As the program has grown in size and cost, reforms have become increasingly imperative.  In 2002, the Section 8 Program consumed 46 percent of HUD’s annual budget; by 2011, it consumed 61 percent.  The trend of the program is unsustainable.

“Section 8 is an important program created in the 1970s to provide rental assistance as an alternative to public housing for low-income families, especially veterans, people with disabilities, the elderly, and single parents,” said Rep. Biggert.  “This proposal aims to reduce bureaucratic inefficiencies, burdens, and requirements so federal resources can be more effectively used to help those most in need.  It also enhances the Family Self-Sufficiency Program so more families can gain the skills they need to transition from government assistance to independence.  I look forward to hearing from our witnesses about their ideas to cut red tape in Section 8, reduce costs and better meet the needs of struggling families.”

The draft legislation, which can be viewed here,  streamlines the operations and improves the effectiveness of the Section 8 program by:

  • Reducing administrative burdens by requiring Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) to inspect units every two years instead of annually, which is current practice; 
  • Simplifying many of the policies and procedures to determine tenant rent contributions in all programs under the U.S. Housing Act;
  • Requiring PHAs and owners to terminate assistance to those receiving vouchers with incomes above 80 percent of the area median income (AMI) during the year the tenant crosses that income threshold.  Current practice allows PHAs and owners the discretion to continue assistance to residents even after they pass the 80 percent AMI threshold.  The current practice results in vouchers being held by those who are not in need of assistance. 
 The Subcommittee hearing will take place on Thursday, June 23 at 9:30 a.m. in room 2128 Rayburn.

Witnesses scheduled to testify:

Panel I
Assistant Secretary Sandra B. Henriquez, Office of Public and Indian Housing
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Panel II
Tony G Bazzie, Executive Director, Housing Authority of Raleigh County (WV)

Linda Couch, Senior Vice President for Policy, National Low Income Housing Coalition

Roberta Graham, Vice President, Housing Choice Voucher Services, Quadel Consulting

Tory Gunsolley, President/CEO, Housing Authority of the City of Houston (TX)

P. Curtis Hiebert, Chief Executive Officer, Keene (NH) Housing Authority

Alex Sanchez, Executive Director, Housing Authority of the County of Santa Clara (CA)

Barbara Sard, Vice President for Housing Policy, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

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