NLIHC Board Member Leonard Williams Testifies on Legislation to Preserve Public Housing

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Taylor Materio 202-662-1530 x227; taylor@nlihc.org

NLIHC Board Member Leonard Williams Testifies on Legislation to Preserve Public Housing

WASHINGTON - National Low Income
Housing Coalition board member Leonard Williams
testified before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing
and
Community Opportunity today in support of  two public housing bills, the

Public Housing One-for-One Replacement and Tenant Protection Act of 2010
and the
Public Housing Preservation and Rehabilitation Act of 2010. The bills
are
expected to be introduced shortly by Subcommittee Chairwoman Maxine
Waters
(D-CA) and Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA), respectively.

The
One-for-One Replacement and Tenant Protection Act would address the
significant
loss of public housing and public housing tenant displacement resulting
from the
demolition and disposition, or sale, of public housing, and from the
mandatory
and voluntary conversion of public housing to tenant-based vouchers. The bill would require the one-for-one
replacement of all
public housing units lost through demolition, disposition, and mandatory
or
voluntary conversion to vouchers, and provide additional rights for
public
housing residents.  

The
Public Housing Preservation and Rehabilitation Act of 2010 would provide tools to allow public housing agencies to
leverage
private financial assistance, repeal the existing prohibition against
development of new public housing units, and authorize grants for the
conversion
of public housing projects to assisted living facilities.

"The
bills before the Subcommittee today would help preserve the nation's
public
housing stock, protect public housing tenants, and help ensure that
people can
receive the supportive services they need while living in public housing
rather
than be prematurely institutionalized in nursing homes," Mr. Williams
stated.
"The nation's shortage of homes affordable to extremely low income
households is
evidence of the need to preserve existing affordable housing while we
strive to
achieve the resources necessary to add to the nation's affordable
housing
stock."

Mr.
Williams also presented NLIHC's public housing principles:

1. There
is an intrinsic value of public housing being publicly owned. Public
housing has
a critical place among a community's array of housing choices. Public
housing
serves extremely low and very low income households, groups that most
state and
local housing resources do not reach.

2. Full
resident participation is critical to successful public housing.
Involved
tenants share responsibility for maintaining their community, have a
vested
interest in the future of their homes and have a first-hand
understanding of how
their housing is managed.

3. At
a minimum, current income targeting requirements must be met. At least
40% of
new annual admissions must have incomes below 30% of area median income.
This is
significant because this below 30% AMI population has the nation's most
significant housing cost burdens.

4. Tenant
contributions for rents must be affordable. Tenant contributions for
rents must
be tied to individual household incomes and must be affordable to each
household.

 5.
The need to raise private capital should not drive other decisions that
are
contrary to the interests of residents and others in need of affordable
housing.
Where there is private funding of public housing redevelopment, the
ongoing
federal subsidies must be adequate to ensure that these interests,
including the
need to serve extremely low income households, the necessity that tenant

contributions for rents be affordable to each household and the right of

residents and others to participate in the decisions impacting public
housing,
can be met.

 6. Admission
criteria should be directly related to an applicant's ability to fulfill
the
obligations of an assisted lease and individual circumstances must be
considered
for each applicant who is not categorically excluded.

 7. Every
revitalization, demolition, and replacement plan must take into account
the
extent to which public housing in that housing market area has operated
to
create and perpetuate racial and economic segregation of low income
families. Public
housing tenants
must have a right to return to their revitalized homes
.

 "In
addition to supporting policy proposals to preserve public housing,
NLIHC also
supports increased federal appropriations for the public housing
operating and
capital funds. The public housing operating fund had been underfunded
for seven
straight years until FY10," Mr. Williams stated. "We cannot expect PHAs
to
maintain the nation's investment in public housing without sufficient
resources
to do so."

Mr. Williams, a
resident of
public housing, is in his second term as a resident commissioner on the
Buffalo
Municipal Housing Authority Board of Commissioners. He is a member of
the
Resident Advisory Board of Buffalo and, for the last seven years, has
been a
member of his development's Resident Council.

Other
witnesses at the hearing included: Honorable Sandra Henriquez, Assistant

Secretary for Public and Indian Housing, U.S. Department of Housing and
Urban
Development; Keith D. Kinard, Executive Director, Newark Housing
Authority on
behalf of the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities;  Deirdre
Oakley,
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Georgia State University;
Anthony
O'Leary, Executive Director, Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority on
behalf of
the Public Housing Authorities Directors Association; Joseph Puma,
Public
Housing Resident on behalf of National People's Action; Frederick
Purnell,
Executive Director, Wilmington Housing Authority on behalf of the
National
Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials; and David Rammler,
Staff
Attorney and Director of Government Relations, National Housing Law
Project.

Mr.Williams'
full testimony is available at: http://www.nlihc.org/doc/Testimony-of-LW-NLIHC-4-28-10.pdf

More
information on the hearing is available at: http://www.house.gov/apps/list/hearing/financialsvcs_dem/hrhousing_042310.shtml

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The National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to ending America’s affordable housing crisis. Established in 1974 by Cushing N. Dolbeare, NLIHC educates, organizes and advocates to ensure decent, affordable housing within healthy neighborhoods for everyone. NLIHC provides up-to-date information, formulates policy and educates the public on housing needs and the strategies for solutions.

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