SENATE PASSES HR 3700!

HOTMA Bill Headed to the President's Desk for Signature

After a flood of emails, letters and calls from a broad-based coalition of national, state and local groups/organizations, and after the stunning House-vote of 427-0, the U.S. Senate fast-tracked HR 3700 Housing Opportunity through Modernization Act (HOTMA), bypassing the regular order process of hearings and markups, and passing the bill by unanimous consent on July 14.
 
Early on, after the House vote in February, CLPHA and other industry leaders decided to aggressively pursue a unanimous consent Senate strategy, which requires all Senators to agree on passage of a bill, recognizing that the shortened legislative session would work against the normal legislative process. Bypassing regular order also meant there would be no opportunity to amend the bill during a committee process. However, as CLPHA and other stakeholders agreed, we were not going to make the perfect the enemy of the good.
 
The strategy, which eventually included garnering as many Senate cosponsors as possible for a companion bill, built a critical mass of support and convinced Senate leaders to “hotline” the bill, bypassing regular order.
 
CLPHA members are to be commended for the critical role they played in bringing HOTMA to the attention of their legislators, and for the many letters, emails and phone calls that were generated to help advance the bill.
 
Among notable provisions in HOTMA for housing authorities, the bill...

  • makes significant changes to the Section 8 Project-Based Voucher (PBV) program, including allowing housing authorities to project-base up to 20 percent of its authorized voucher allocation with up to an additional 10 percent for targeted populations; and takes noteworthy steps in simplifying the administration of the program.
  • allows more supportive services to be provided to homeless families and individuals, families with veterans, and disabled and elderly households
  • gives authorization to public housing authorities to combine their capital and operating funds;
  • authorizes a Public Housing Capital Fund replacement reserve; and
  • makes needed changes with public housing and project-based rental assistance, such as:

1. allowing housing authorities to continue to manage waiting lists for PBV units or to permit site-specific waiting lists managed by owners;

2. allowing housing authorities to provide PBV assistance to improve, develop or replace a property that it owns or controls without having to use a competitive process;

3. allowing housing authorities, in areas where vouchers are difficult to use, or in census tracts with a poverty rate of 20 percent or lower, to project-base assistance to up to 40 percent of units in a project; and 

4. extending the permissible term of PBV contracts and extensions from 15 to 20 years. 

 

While the bill is not perfect, and as House Housing and Insurance Subcommittee Chairman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) told CLPHA members at the 2015 Fall Membership Meeting, many of the provisions in the bill represent “the low hanging fruit” of public housing and Section 8 voucher reforms that “everyone can agree to.” Nonetheless, it represents a crucial victory, both politically and from a policy perspective, for housing interests overall. CLPHA is pleased to have been a leader in the effort.