At the end of last week, President Barack Obama signed into law a proposal reforming public housing which contained an amendment from a Florida congressman to ensure more screening is done for public housing applicants.
Obama signed U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer’s, R-Mo.,“Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act,” which included an amendment from U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., to ensure public housing applicants face more income verification measures. The amendment was added to Luetkemeyer’s bill by voice vote.
“Public housing should be for those who need it the most, not individuals with six-figure incomes and millions of dollars in assets,” Buchanan said on Monday. “This abuse of taxpayer dollars must be dealt with in an aggressive way. This bill helps ensure millionaires are not living in public housing on the American taxpayer’s dime.”
Buchanan’s amendment ensures HUD and public housing agencies (PHAs) and uses means testing for applicants. Currently PHAs often rely on applicants self-reporting their income. The proposal had the support of Sarasota Housing Authority and Manatee County Housing Authority.
Luetkemeyer’s bill, which was co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., passed in the House without opposition back in February before heading to the Senate. The bill ensures the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service (RHS) will send more approval authority to lenders for its single housing loan programs and gives veterans more access to public housing.
“Members of Congress joined together to break the trend of failed federal housing policies," Luetkemeyer said after the vote in February. “This comprehensive, bipartisan legislation represents the first real reforms to the programs and processes at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service in decades. The success of housing programs should not be judged by the number of federal dollars spent. Instead, we are looking outside the box to streamline HUD and RHS policies and eliminate duplicative programs and waste. The future of housing can and should look different and today, my colleagues and I stood together and passed what is the first step to changing our nation’s housing policies.”
First elected to Congress in 2006, Buchanan serves on both the Ways and Means and the Budget Committees. Before his time in politics, Buchanan was in the private sector and led the business community, including chairing the Florida Chamber of Commerce and sitting on the board of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.