CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
H.R. 46 is being considered on the floor under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage on Tuesday, April 28, 2009. This legislation was introduced by Rep. Biggert (R-IL) on January 6, 2009. The bill was referred to the Committee on Financial Services, which has taken no official action.
H.R. 46 would impose a fee on all public housing agencies in order to pay the administrative costs of the family self-sufficiency (FSS) program, which provides job training for families that receive rental assistance vouchers and section 8.
Under the bill, the fee would be used to pay for the cost of one full-time employee for each public housing agency that serves 25 or more families through the FSS program. Public housing agencies that meet minimum performance standards would be eligible to receive funds to hire two full time employees if the agency has 75 participating families, and three employees if they have 125 participating families. Public housing agencies that assist less than 25 participating families through the FSS program would receive a prorated amount of funding to assist in the administrative costs of the program.
In addition, H.R. 46 provides that any public housing agency which is in its first year of developing a FSS program is eligible for funding to cover the cost of one full time employee for the first year, regardless of the number of families that participate in the program. If insufficient funds are available in any fiscal year to pay for all the FSS program coordinators, priority will be given to funding one employee for every public housing agency with a FSS program.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) would be responsible for developing and administering the fee program, establishing performance standards, and recapturing any fees allocated under the bill but used for other purposes.
Finally, H.R. 46 would authorize the appropriation of $10 million for HUD to perform a "formal and specific" evaluation of the effectiveness of the fees and the FSS program. HUD would be required to submit its final report within eight years of enactment.
According to HUD, the family self-sufficiency (FSS) is a government program that "encourages communities to develop local strategies to help voucher families obtain employment that will lead to economic independence and self-sufficiency." The program provides incentives for public housing agencies to work with local welfare agencies, schools, and businesses to help families that receive section 8 housing assistance vouchers to obtain vocational training and job placement services. The program was established in 1990 through the National Affordable Housing Act. According to CRS, there are about 50,000 families participating in the FSS program at any given time.
Despite HUD incentive funding that is given to public housing agencies that provide assistance through the FSS system, Congressional Quarterly (CQ) still reports that participation in the program is relatively low. According to CQ, less than half of all public housing agencies participate in any kind of FSS program. In addition, the majority of those public housing agencies that do offer FSS access often limit the program's size. As a result, CQ reports that "fewer than 5% of families with children in the public housing and Section 8 voucher programs currently participate." This legislation attempts to increase participation in this government program by charging fees on public housing agencies in order to fund employees to carry out FSS programs.
A CBO score for H.R. 46 was not available at press time. However, the legislation would authorize $10 million.