HUD BILL BRINGS 50,000 VOUCHERS

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The federal Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill passed Thursday, with increased funding, copious vouchers–and Republican Representative Rick Lazio’s public housing reform plans attached.

The bill includes some 50,000 welfare-to-work Section 8 vouchers, far more than the 7,000 to 17,000 that the House and Senate versions of the bill had approved, and eliminated a built-in voucher delay that froze up about 40,000 additional vouchers a year. Homeless housing grants, community development grants and public housing repair funds all got new chunks of cash.

Even Lazio’s bill–which could have replaced many of the poorest public housing tenants with middle-class residents–was toned down, reserving 75 percent of all Section 8 vouchers and 40 percent of all public housing for the poorest applicants. “It’s a far cry from where the House bill was, and even better than Senate bill,” says Linda Couch of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “It’s pretty good news.”