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Thursday, April 18, 2002 - Washington, DC - U.S. Rep. Carrie Meek, (D-Miami, FL) has introduced the Affordable Housing Improvement Act, a bill designed to improve the quality and increase the number of available affordable housing units throughout the country.

"America's affordable housing shortage is getting worse, not better," said Rep. Meek. "Communities all over the country receive federal funds to help low income people rent decent homes, but there aren't enough affordable, decent homes around. As a result, lower income people go without housing, and the funds that are supposed to help them go back to Washington unused. My bill insures that federal low income housing funds provide decent, affordable housing in the communities that need it."

Rep. Meek's bill, H.R. 4205, would enable local Public Housing Agencies (PHA) to transfer unused federal Section 8 housing assistance funds to programs where it can be put to work building and rehabilitating housing for low-income people.

A recent study by the Family Housing Fund (FHF) discovered that nationwide over 12.5 million individuals live in households with "worst-case" housing needs. FHF also found that in the past two years, nearly 1.5 million affordable housing units have been lost nationwide. These include unsubsidized units where rents have increased, privately owned housing where owners have opted out of federal subsidy programs, and public housing that has been demolished but not replaced.

Rep. Meek's bill would give Public Housing Agencies (PHA) the ability to transfer unused Section 8 funds to its HOME Investment Partnership Act or Public Housing Capital accounts.

Section 8, a federal housing voucher program allows individuals and families to rent decent, safe, affordable housing ,while the HOME Investment Partnership Act is a public/private partnership that provides down payment assistance to low and moderate income families and provides funds to construct new low cost housing and rental units. PHA's use Public Housing Capital funds to modernize, improve, and build more public housings.

Every year communities around the country lose Section 8 dollars because federally subscribed voucher payments have not kept pace with rapidly rising rents making it impossible for individuals to use these subsidies. In 2001 HUD recaptured $1.8 billion dollars in unused Section 8 funds from Public Housing Agencies throughout the nation, including more than $23 million from the Miami-Dade Housing Authority.

Rep. Meek's bill would let local communities attack their affordable housing problem by allowing them to use these scare federal resources to improve and construct new affordable housing units.