Washington, DC—The House Financial Services Committee today passed an amendment authored by Congressmen Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA) and Christopher Murphy (D-CT) that will make housing more affordable for low-income and disabled Americans, especially in high rent areas. The purpose of the amendment is to provide financial relief for low-income families who live in high rent areas, such as Boston, by providing them with greater subsidies than in relatively low housing cost areas such as the rural South and Midwest.
The Lynch-Murphy amendment addresses a long-standing inequity in national housing policy which, in effect, provided less support for families living in high rent areas such as in the Northeast U.S.
"This has been a matter of contention for many years", said Congressman Lynch. "As someone who grew up in public housing and who has worked as an attorney for public housing tenants, it is gratifying to get this fixed."
The Lynch-Murphy amendment has been included in the Section 8 Voucher Reform Act of 2007 (H.R. 1851), which passed the committee by a large bipartisan majority. The bill now moves to a vote by the full House of Representatives.
The cost of housing varies greatly throughout the United States. In expensive housing markets like Massachusetts, low-income families are forced to spend the majority of their income on rent and utility costs. This amendment would require state and local housing agencies to review the costs of housing in their regions, and give them the tools they need to make housing more affordable.
Congressman Lynch said, “Today in Massachusetts and across this country, families face the combined threats of rising unemployment, falling wages and unaffordable housing. In my District alone, more than half of the 22,000 extremely low-income families are forced to spend more than 50% of their income on housing costs. Our amendment recognizes that the cost of rent in Boston is not the same as the cost of rent in Kansas City is not the same as the cost of rent in Birmingham, Alabama, and directs local housing officials to adjust the value of their Section 8 vouchers accordingly. It’s a matter of common sense.”
The Lynch-Murphy Amendment was supported by a broad range of housing and disability groups, including the Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership, the Section 8 Administrators Association, the Hingham Housing Authority, the New England Housing Network, the Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association, and the Consortium for Citizens With Disabilities (which includes the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), The Arc of the United States (The Arc), United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), Easter Seals, the United Spinal Association, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS), Mental Health America (MHA), and the Brain Injury Association (BIA)).
Congressman Lynch added, “I thank my colleague Chris Murphy and Chairman Barney Frank and the other members of the Committee for their hard work and tremendous support of this important amendment, and I am hopeful that the Congress will act soon to approve the full legislation and extend a critical lifeline to struggling families nationwide.”