Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Section 8 tenant-based housing program is the largest subsidized housing program our government runs and for many Americans it is critical to ensuring that their most basic housing needs are met.
While it will never be the sole solution to our housing problems, it is an essential component of our larger national housing policy and I support efforts to strengthen its reach and effectiveness.
I believe a review of the voucher program has a great deal of merit and I look forward to working with my fellow Senators.
In order to make the program more effective we must begin to ask some key questions, such as: what accounts for the varying success rates around the country in getting people placed in Section 8 housing?
According to HUD, in 2000, success rates varied widely from one public housing authority to the next. Some had rates as low as 37 % while others were at 100%.
It is too simplistic to attribute low success rates simply to tight rental markets. It is also clearly an unfair overstatement to blame the problem on mismanagement at some local housing authorities.
I hope that in today’s hearing we can delve into the voucher success rate question and get some feedback from our witnesses about ways to improve the success rate numbers.
I believe we must also examine ways to tailor the voucher program better to the needs of different communities and different eligible Section 8 participants.
Chairman Sarbanes has suggested a Thrifty Production Voucher to make a certain percentage of units in new construction projects affordable to extremely low-income families. This is an interesting idea aimed at some of the neediest families. And, I look forward to exploring this idea further.
Affordable housing remains a great challenge for our country. As previous hearings have shown, it is not enough to work hard and play by the rules. People are continually being priced out of the rental markets around the country. Improving the Section 8 program will be a positive step forward in alleviating the housing challenge so many working people face.
I hope that we can work together to move legislation forward quickly and I commend the Chair for his legislative proposal.