House Unanimously Votes To Reform Federal Housing Programs

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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The House unanimously voted Tuesday to pass the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act, a bill designed to overhaul certain federal assisted housing programs provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Rural Housing Service.

Modifications under the bill – spearheaded by Missouri Republican Rep. [crscore]Blaine Luetkemeyer[/crscore] – include the simplification of the inspection protocol for rental assistance units. It would also change the requirements of mortgage insurance for condominiums and rural housing loans.

“This comprehensive, bipartisan legislation represents the first real reforms to the programs and processes at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service (RHS) in decades,” the Missouri Republican said in a statement. “The success of housing programs should not be judged by the number of federal dollars spent. Instead, we are looking outside the box to streamline HUD and RHS policies and eliminate duplicative programs and waste. The future of housing can and should look different and today, my colleagues and I stood together and passed what is the first step to changing our nation’s housing policies.”

In addition to the overhauls to federal housing programs, the lower chamber also approved an amendment introduced by Florida Republican Rep. [crscore]Vern Buchanan[/crscore] designed to prevent fraud in the programs following an inspector general audit that found a man worth nearly $2 million living in public housing.

“It is outrageous that taxpayers are footing the bill for millionaires’ housing,” Buchanan said in a statement following the vote. “This type of abuse hurts truly needy families and erodes faith in government. Holding HUD to the same standards used for other federal benefits will provide much-needed oversight on taxpayer funds and help create consistency across the vast array of assistance programs.”

If the measure passes the upper chamber, public housing agencies will have to verify the income and assets of those applying for federally subsidized housing benefits.

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