Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi today joined Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Andrew Cuomo and other Members of Congress in support of a new HUD policy to preserve affordable housing. "The new policy," said Pelosi (D-CA), "will stem the continuing loss of a million at-risk units of affordable housing that are currently available to low-income Americans, particularly the elderly living on fixed incomes."
Affordable housing is imperiled because contracts that subsidize these properties will soon expire. Owners will then have the option to "opt-out" of the Section-8 program in search of higher rents than existing contracts allow. Contracts are expiring all across America in the next few years. "This is a timebomb ticking in the heart of our great cities," said Pelosi, "and San Francisco is one of the most seriously threatened. Fortunately, the new policy will proceed simultaneously on two tracks, emergency and long-term."
First, HUD will immediately review all subsidized rents that are approaching termination to consider adjusting those that are outdated to match current market conditions. As a further incentive, HUD will target upward adjustments toward the owners of well-maintained housing. By October of this year, the department will have invested $30 million, under this new policy alone, to preserve at-risk housing.
Second, HUD and Congress will work closely together to design a comprehensive, long-term approach to preserving the nation's entire stock of nearly a million units of at-risk housing. "We will seek to deliver adequate financing, protect residents from arbitrary displacement, and preserve the best housing that has been developed by the Section-8 program over 20 years," said Pelosi.
At the press conference today, HUD released "Opting In: Renewing America's Committment to Affordable Housing," a report that documents the location and quantity of at-risk housing across America. Congresswoman Pelosi's statement is attached.
Statement by Congresswoman Pelosi
I am pleased to join HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo as he announces a new policy that will reduce the ongoing loss of affordable housing in rural communities and high-cost rental markets. HUDís new policy will preserve affordable housing and protect low-income residents, including seniors and families with children, from being displaced from their homes. I commend the Clinton Administration for taking this important step to implement a preservation strategy which is so important to San Francisco.
As HUDís report demonstrates, America cannot afford to lose more affordable housing in our communities. During the last 30 months, approximately 100,000 previously affordable units were converted to market rate housing and of this total, 10% were in California. America is likely to lose 3,000 affordable units each month and the California Housing Partnership Corporation estimates that by 2001, without financial incentives to current owners or funds for non-profit and tenant purchasers willing to preserve affordability, California will lose an additional 20,000-30,000 units. The situation is critical in communities like San Francisco. To ensure a successful long-term solution, HUD should make it a priority to implement policies that assist the transfer of these at-risk properties to non-profit and tenant purchasers dedicated to maintaining the long term affordability of this housing.
HUDís new housing policy addresses this problem by renewing expiring federal ďproject-based Section 8" subsidy contracts at market rate rents to prevent owners from deciding to ďopt outĒ or leave the program. This enables low-income residents to continue living in their homes. In San Francisco and other urban areas, this housing is typically well built and in desirable neighborhoods and thus HUDís new policy advances key Congressional priorities, including initiatives to deconcentrate poverty, to improve access to good jobs and education, and to protect seniors and people with disabilities. These policies invest in our communities and our citizens.
While this policy targets this specific problem, we must continue our fight for more federal housing assistance to meet other housing needs, including residents of public housing, homeless families and individuals, and housing for persons with AIDS.
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