January 24, 2003

Senate Housing Voucher Plan Would Protect Low-Income Families And Result in Sounder Program Budgeting
by Barbara Sard and Will Fischer


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The omnibus appropriations bill that the Senate approved on January 23, 2003 (H.J. Res. 2) includes provisions that would establish a new funding structure for the Housing Choice Voucher Program for fiscal year 2003.  The House Appropriations Committee passed a bill (H.R. 5605) containing an alternative funding proposal on October 9, 2002.

Housing Choice Vouchers (sometimes referred to as “Section 8” vouchers) enable recipients to obtain decent housing while typically paying 30 percent of their income in rent.  Vouchers are widely considered to be a highly effective form of housing assistance.  For example, the bi-partisan, Congressionally-chartered Millennial Housing Commission concluded in a recent report that the housing voucher program is “flexible, cost-effective, and successful in its mission,” and should be a “linchpin” of national housing policy.

The conference committee that meets in the coming weeks to draft a final appropriations bill will face a choice between the two very different proposals for funding the voucher program that are contained in the House and Senate bills.  For the following reasons, the Senate bill offers a sounder approach:

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