A question from Phil Samuelson of New York, NY:
What is the Congress proposing to do with the public housing program? I have heard a lot of mixed info.
Rep. Gibbons responds:
To address the problem of the current public housing program in this country, the House of Representatives is considering H.R. 2, The Housing Opportunity and Responsibility Act of 1997. This bill replaces the 1937 United States Housing Act - the basis of all federal housing programs - with a new housing framework. In the past, public housing residents were required to contribut 30 percent of their income toward rent. Every time a family's income increased, a corresponding increase in rent would result, discouraging that family from moving up the economic ladder of success. H.R. 2 will empower residents by changing rent rules to remove the disincentives for resident to work, seek higher paying jobs, and maintain family unity. This legislation also promotes self-sufficiency and responsibility by allowing communities to set minimum rents so that everyone contributes something, and requires able-bodied residents to perform eight hours a month of community service.
The Housing Opportunity and Responsibility Act will transform public housing from a way of life to a way to a better life for low-income families and their children. It will replace the Depression-era United States Housing Act of 1937 and take public housing into the 21st Century.
Rep. Carson responds:
The House is now considering H.R. 2, the Public Housing Reform act of 1997. The proposed bill would significantly alter the current public housing system as we know it. Many of these proposals could significantly hurt many of the poorest members of our society, requiring many of them to participate in community service to qualify for public housing, and doubling the rent for many public housing recipients. As a member of the House Banking and Financial Services' Housing Subcommittee. I have been actively involved in the markup of H.R. 2 and the subsequent debate on the floor. Most experts agree the bill in its current state is regressive. That is why the House is spending a great deal of time dealing with amendments to the bill to reduce the impact on the poor. A vote on final passage will come next week.
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