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Section 8 Voucher Reform Bill to be Marked Up by U.S. House of Representatives

by Published On: Oct 14, 2011Updated On: Apr 16, 2012

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to mark up an amended version of the Section 8 reform legislation, the Affordable Housing and Self Sufficiency Improvement Act of 2012 (AHSSIA), in the coming weeks in preparation for floor action.

What is the Affordable Housing and Self Sufficiency Improvement Act of 2012? 

The Affordable Housing and Self Sufficiency Improvement Act of 2012 includes a number of provisions that will streamline the housing choice voucher program by eliminating duplicative and burdensome requirements that will apply to the Section 8 voucher program. 

The bill also includes provisions that impact all federally assisted housing, including senior housing,  income, rent and asset definitions, recertification requirements, Limited English Proficiency, the Project Based Voucher program, and mark to market. 

If enacted AHSSIA would:

  • Increase the standard deduction for seniors to $525, an increase from $400. At the same time the deduction for unreimbursed medical expenses in determining rent will be decreased from those above 3% of a senior's income to those above 10% of a senior's income. In response to LeadingAge and LeadingAge members' advocacy, the legislation will include provision for a hardship exemption for those with high unreimbursed medical expenses who would be hard hit financially by burdensome rents.  The provision allows the HUD secretary to develop a policy for applying a hardship exemption to seniors for whom the lack of a meaningful deduction for unreimbursed health costs will present a financial hardship. This policy is to be developed in consultation with stakeholders and with HHS to be sure that the new rent setting policies will not have negative impacts on vulnerable seniors. The new medical deduction provision will impact both current and future residents.
  • Increase the minimum rent from $50 to $69.45 indexed in the future. The hardship exemptions along with language that strenthen their use for vulnerable seniors and families remain in place and providers should be sure to advise residents that they may be eligible for such exemptions.

  • Change the recertification requirements so that those on fixed incomes like social security and SSDI will have their incomes recertified every three years instead of every year. The bill also changes the asset definitions to deny eligibility to any one with net family assets exceeding $100,000 as adjusted annually by an inflationary factor or to any one who has a present ownership interest in and an ability to sell a home that is suitable for occupancy by the individual applying for assistance.

Limited English Proficiency

The Affordable Housing and Self Sufficiency Improvement Act of 2012 also includes provisions that will impact all managers and their ability to serve residents and potential residents of Limited English Proficiency by providing for translation of required documents and for a toll free telephone line to provide translation services if necessary. 

Project-Based Voucher

The project based voucher program is also reformed in this legislation to increase the percentage of vouchers that a housing authority can project base from 20% to 25% for projects that serve seniors and provide supportive services -- good news for new development and preservation of senior housing that needs rental subsidy.

Mark to market

Finally, the legislation extends the mark to market program authorization through Sept. 30, 2015, which will extend authorities that help preservation of certain subsidized housing.


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