Mr. Chairman, I want to congratulate you on the occasion of your taking the gavel of the Housing and Transportation Subcommittee. Given your ongoing active interest in these issues, I look forward to your leadership of the Subcommittee.
While the Subcommittee has not yet been officially reorganized, Senator Gramm graciously encouraged us to proceed with this and other hearings as we try to get the work of the Committee done.
Today's hearing is an important review of the status of bipartisan legislation passed in 1997 to deal with the problem of expiring section 8 contracts on FHA insured buildings. The purpose of that legislation was to reduce section 8 rents that were above market, restructure the mortgages where necessary, and provide for needed renovation.
The result we were aiming for, and seem to be achieving to date, was the upgrading and preservation of valuable affordable housing at rates the federal government could afford.
The legislation establishing this "mark-to-market" program as well as the Office of Multifamily Housing Assistance Restructuring (OMHAR), which was created to implement the program, expires at the end of this fiscal year. Yet, the need for the program will continue for a number of years to come.
It is our responsibility to decide how we want to proceed with regards to the legislation. It is my intention to work with my colleagues in the Congress and in the Administration to come to a fair determination on how to keep this effort on track.
Again, I want to thank Senator Reed for holding this hearing. He has put together two very good panels of witnesses that provide an opportunity for all the stakeholders to participate. I feel very strongly that the Committee should proceed in a methodical, workmanlike manner in an effort to hear from all interested parties. In the end, this kind of thorough review and comprehensive airing of the issues should result in better legislation. This hearing is consistent with this approach.
Mr. Chairman, I look forward to reading the testimony.