Proposal to Greatly Expand “Moving To Work” Initiative Risks Deep Cuts in Housing Assistance Over Time
 For more on the BCA, see Richard Kogan, “How the Across-the-Board Cuts in the Budget Control Act Will Work,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, December 2, 2011, https://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3635, and Richard Kogan, “Coming Reductions in Discretionary Funding Will Be Larger For Non-Defense Programs than Defense Programs,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, January 3, 2012, https://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3650.
 The risk of long-term reductions in funding is only one of many strong reasons that large-scale expansion of the MTW demonstration would be unwise. See Will Fischer, “Expansion of HUD’s “Moving-To-Work” Demonstration Is Not Justified,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, September 27, 2011, https://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3590.
 The HUD Secretary has no power to waive statutes unless Congress specifically authorizes such power. Under MTW, HUD may waive any provision of the U.S. Housing Act of 1937 for participating agencies except for those governing labor standards and the demolition and disposition of public housing.
 In some recent annual appropriations laws, Congress has permitted HUD to expand MTW incrementally. Currently, 35 agencies that administer roughly 420,000 voucher and public housing units participate in the demonstration, and HUD may add four agencies in the near future.
 The proposal, dated October 5, 2011, is entitled, “The Moving to Work Improvement, Expansion, and Permanency Act of 2011,” and is available on our website: https://www.cbpp.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/MTWbill.pdf.
 As noted above, HUD is currently granted the authority to waive most federal housing laws and rules for MTW agencies, but it retains the power of choosing which rules shall be waived in each agency’s case; the latter power would be eliminated under the Miller proposal.
 Unlike the current MTW statute, the Miller proposal would require agencies to provide residents with an informal hearing or grievance procedure prior to any eviction or termination of assistance. Such procedures likely are already constitutionally required, however, and the proposed language actually could undermine existing rights of applicants and tenants to challenge other adverse agency actions, such as denying admission to the program or determinations of tenants’ required rental payment. Moreover, agencies would have unfettered discretion to establish new conditions on tenant participation in the programs, such as time limits.
 This strategy generally results in agencies assisting significantly fewer low-income families with vouchers. See Will Fischer, op cit.
 Separately, the Bush Administration proposed a new public housing block grant demonstration for up to 100 public housing agencies.
 A GAO study identified 15 federal block grants in existence in 1993 (see Table II.1 of report number GAO/HEHS-95-74). Of those identified by GAO, we excluded three programs that are either very small or do not target benefits to low-income families or communities. We also excluded a mandatory program, as the process by which Congress makes funding decisions for mandatory programs differs significantly from that for discretionary programs such as the housing voucher and public housing programs. We then added three housing programs (HOME, NAHBG, and public housing capital fund) that have the essential characteristics of a block grant and are particularly relevant in this context (two of these programs were created after the GAO report was released). The resulting list includes most, if not all, of the large federal discretionary block grant programs that target benefits to low-income families, but excludes some block grants that are either small, not targeted to low-income families, or mandatory programs. For CDBG, we chose 1982 as the initial funding year; this is the first year in which the new small cities block grant was incorporated into CDBG as a result of the Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1981. Figures for “Education for the Disadvantaged” are for the entire account, which includes a handful of relatively small programs that are not block grants. Figures for “Training Employment and Services” include only the adult training and employment, dislocated worker, and youth activities block grants. Figures are budget authority, although annual obligations were used in some cases where budget authority figures were not available.
 HUD’s estimates are based on recent actual program cost data in the voucher program and on costs at comparable developments in the private market in the operating fund, with adjustments based on recent data on tenant payments, utility costs, and other factors.
 By contrast, there is no established method to determine adequate funding for the Public Housing Capital Fund. As is typical of block grants, the Capital Fund’s formula determines how HUD will distribute the funding that Congress provides among housing agencies, but does not calculate a full funding level.
 Every current MTW agency receives housing voucher funding via a block grant formula, and about one third receive public housing operating funding as a block grant. Every MTW agency is allowed the fungible use of voucher and public housing funds.
 This figure is based on the average cost per housing voucher in use, as of June 2011, including administrative fees, and adjusted for inflation.
 In addition to the reasons discussed in the remainder of this paragraph of the text, two other points are worth mentioning. First, most current MTW agencies initiated agreements under generous terms that are no longer available to new MTW agencies. Prior to 2003, Congress provided every agency with annual funding sufficient to cover the cost of using every authorized Housing Choice voucher, including those that were not currently in use. The amount of annual funding received under this scheme formed the initial-year baseline for agencies entering the MTW demonstration at that time. Since 2003, however, Congress has funded agencies based on actual voucher usage and costs. For agencies admitted to MTW since 2003, the more frugal recent-cost basis has been used to determine the funding baseline.
Second, MTW agencies were effectively exempted from the “reserve offset” policies authorized by Congress in 2008 and 2009 that reduced the amount of new budget authority provided to many non-MTW agencies in those years. For 2012, however, Congress has directed HUD to apply reserve offsets to MTW agencies as well, thereby removing this source of favorable treatment.
 See Will Fischer’s testimony before the House Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing, and Community Opportunity on October 13, 2011: https://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3595.
 For instance, a HUD-sponsored study found that as of 2009, seven MTW agencies had set minimum rents of $125 or more for some or all poor families. Abt Associates et al., Study of Rents and Rent Flexibility, prepared for HUD Office of Public and Indian Housing, May 26, 2010, http://www.huduser.org/publications/pdf/Rent%20Study_Final%20Report_05-26-10.pdf, p 27.
 Barry Steffan et al., Worst Case Housing Needs 2009: Report to Congress, HUD Office of Policy Development and Research, February 2011.