Young, Blunt introduce legislation to help ramp up nation’s low-poverty areas

U.S. Sens. Todd Young (R-IN) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) on Jan. 31 unveiled bipartisan legislation to encourage American families who receive federal housing assistance to move to low-poverty regions and expand access to opportunity areas.

The Housing Choice Voucher Mobility Demonstration Act of 2019, S. 291, would incentivize greater choice and flexibility in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Housing Choice Voucher Program.

“Our legislation will help ensure the Housing Choice Voucher Program better serves families who need to relocate to areas with greater opportunity,” said Sen. Young, who sponsored the bill.
Among the members joining Sen. Blunt as an original cosponsor of S. 291 is lead Democrat U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.

Sens. Young and Van Hollen introduced similar legislation, S. 2945, during the 115th Congress. The bill was considered by a Senate committee along with the same-named, U.S. House-approved version, H.R. 5793.

If enacted, the newly reintroduced S. 291 would require public housing authorities (PHAs) to submit a regional housing mobility plan detailing how the proposed group will assist families in moving to higher opportunity areas.

S. 291 also would authorize the HUD Secretary to competitively award demonstration program funds. The secretary also would prioritize regional collaborations among PHAs with high concentrations of voucher holders in low-opportunity neighborhoods and an adequate number of moderately priced rental units in higher-opportunity areas, an existing high-performing Family Self Sufficiency program, or a strong regional collaboration including one or more small housing agencies, according to the text of the bill provided by Sen. Young’s office.

“Families in Indiana and throughout America deserve the chance to live in the neighborhoods that best suit their needs, which may include access to more affordable housing, better education, transportation, or lower-crime,” said Sen. Young.

Sen. Van Hollen added that lawmakers also must ensure that Americans may relocate to areas that are closer to a new job or their child’s school. “This bipartisan legislation is a win-win for families in Maryland and across our country, expanding opportunities and accessibility,” he said.

Sen. Blunt urged his colleagues “to support this effort to help people create a better future for themselves and their families.”

S. 291 has been referred to the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee for consideration.