Congressman Al Green Advances Legislation to Help Service-members Attain Affordable Housing

Jun 15, 2006 Issues: Housing

(Washington, DC)--The House Financial Services Committee yesterday passed an amendment sponsored by Congressman Jim Ryun (KS-02) and Congressman Al Green (TX-09) to require the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to treat the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) given to service-members the same as civilian Section 8 vouchers when determining residency eligibility in affordable housing units.   The Ryun-Green provision was amended to H.R. 5443, the Section 8 Voucher Reform Act.  The amendment passed the committee unanimously by a voice vote.

"The amendment focuses on two issues that we in Congress have a duty to address: increasing access to affordable housing for all who need it and supporting the brave men and women who fight for our country," Congressman Al Green said.  "Our enlisted military personnel and their families face a shortage of quality, affordable housing around the country a problem that will only be made worse by the ongoing Base Realignment and Closure Process (BRAC).  This amendment will address an inequality in our housing regulations that has the potential to help hundreds of servicemen and women attain the affordable housing they need."

Under current law, the income of service-members is calculated differently than the income of civilians under affordable housing regulations.  While a servicemember's BAH is considered as income, a civilians section 8 housing voucher is not considered as income, enabling civilians to more easily qualify for affordable housing.  Congressman Al Green's amendment will require HUD to treat both forms of housing assistance the same when determining residency eligibility in an affordable housing unit by disallowing the consideration of BAH as income.  This change would be consistent with current tax policy since BAH is not considered as income for tax purposes.

Although the Department of Defense does not routinely track the number of military personnel in need of low-income housing, typical waiting lists to secure on-base housing have ranged from several months to two years, driving more military personnel to seek private housing.  The number of service-members in need of private affordable housing is expected to increase as a result of the transfer of military units as part of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process.  As a result of BRAC, Texas will receive over 9,700 new military personnel.

"As Americans, we have a moral responsibility to make sure that our brave servicemen and women and their families have access to affordable housing," Congressman Al Green said. "Our national security relies on the quality and commitment of the men and women who serve in uniform.  The quality of military housing as part of the military quality of life is a key component of military readiness."

H.R. 5443 is anticipated to reach the floor of the House of Representatives for vote in the near future.