HUD Archives: News Releases

HUD No. 00-228
Further Information: For Release
In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685 Thursday
Or contact your local HUD office August 31, 2000


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WASHINGTON – Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo today awarded rental assistance vouchers that will help 60,000 very low-income families live in housing they otherwise could not afford. Cuomo awarded the vouchers to about 500 housing authorities in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands.

The $347 million in "Fair Share" Section 8 rental assistance vouchers were awarded competitively based upon community needs. Almost 700 housing authorities submitted applications requesting more than 111,000 vouchers.

"The demand for affordable housing continues to skyrocket," Cuomo said. "Rents are rising faster than inflation, waiting lists for assisted housing are getting longer and, every month, more than 5 million American families who do not receive federal housing assistance have to choose between paying the rent or paying other bills. Congress needs to do more so that all needy families find decent, affordable housing."

Under the program, qualified recipients generally pay no more than 30 percent of their income as rent while HUD picks up the remainder of the tab. Families may live in any community where an affordable unit can be found that meets housing quality standards, and where the owner is willing to participate in the Section 8 program.

At HUD’s urging, Congress, for the first time since 1994, did not restrict the vouchers awarded today to use by various sub-groups of the Section 8 eligible population, giving authorities greater flexibility to respond to local needs.

After almost 20 years of steady increases in the program, Congress, from fiscal years 1994 through 1998, refused to appropriate funds for any new assistance vouchers. The hiatus ended last year when Congress approved funding for 50,000 "Welfare-to-Work" vouchers, followed this year by the vouchers awarded today. However, the new vouchers were only half the total requested by the President for the last two years.

For fiscal year 2001, the President has requested another 120,000 new vouchers. To date, neither the House nor Senate has said they will appropriate funds for any new vouchers.

In its March 2000 "Report to Congress on Worst Case Housing Needs," HUD reported that the number of unassisted, very low-income households -- those with incomes less than 50 percent of the area median -- who are paying more than half their income for rent or who are living in severely-inadequate housing has risen 12 percent since the nation’s economic recovery began in 1991. A record 5.4 million households containing 12.3 million individuals have "worst case" needs.

HUD also found that rental units available to families with incomes less than 30 percent of the area median dropped 5 percent between 1991 and 1997, a loss of more than 370,000 affordable units.

Some 1.4 million American families receive housing assistance under the Section 8 program, of whom 64 percent are families with children, 15 percent are elderly families or individuals and 13 percent are persons with disabilities.


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