Washington, DC - In a rare act of swift, bi-partisan consensus, the U.S. Congress has taken the task of housing assistance into the 21st century with the passage of the Housing Opportunity through Modernization Act (HOTMA).
The Senate on Thursday fast-tracked unanimous passage of HR 3700 following a remarkable House vote of 427-0 in February.
The popular bill, which President Obama is expected to sign into law, makes significant changes to the Section 8 federal housing assistance program, streamlining the process of sheltering homeless families and individuals, families with veterans, and disabled and elderly households.
But the single most important provision, contained in an amendment offered by U.S. Representative Peter Welch (D-VT), allows Section 8 vouchers to be used for the purchase of a manufactured home, and also could cover such costs as leasing the land, mortgage payments, property tax and insurance.
This change would give more than 2 million Section 8 voucher holders the option of home ownership, at the same time cutting program costs by $300 million over five years.
Manufactured housing professionals were a part of a coalition that included the National Association of Realtors and more than 40 housing and advocacy groups seeking Senate passage of this legislation.
One of the outspoken proponents for the purchase option has been L.A. "Tony" Kovach, a leading voice for the manufactured housing industry.
In an open letter last year to U.S. Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Kovach suggested this Section 8 approach, crunching the numbers to demonstrate that allowing vouchers to be used for the purchase of affordable, quality manufactured homes would result in assisting 4 million additional households — or roughly 8.8 million more people — than the existing HUD programs currently serve.
"This approach could also reduce dependency on other entitlement programs. It would reduce the federal budget over time," wrote Kovach. And it would do so while contributing to the end of the very cycles of poverty that perpetuate the subsidy programs.
The extraordinary and far-reaching implications of this long-overdue provision in public assistance policy can be found here in Kovach's detailed analysis: Reinventing HUD’s role in Quality Affordable Housing, Reducing Poverty and Dependency .
Additional insights into the voucher program bill, are found at this link here
Photo credits: MHLivingNews.com and Sunshine Homes, Inc, Red Bay, AL.
MHLivingNews.com and MHProNews.com are the leading trade publications for manufactured housing consumers and MH industry leaders, investors and policy wonks who want up-to-date lifestyle and business news.
L. A. "Tony" Kovach, Publisher