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McCarthy Applauds Moving to Work Program in Kern County

May 26, 2021
Press Release


Today, Congressman Kevin McCarthy released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that the Housing Authority of the County of Kern (Kern) was selected as one of ten public housing authorities (PHAs) to join the Moving to Work Demonstration (MTW) Program, Cohort #2 – Rent Reform. Kern is currently in the process of enrolling into the MTW Program. 
 
McCarthy, an advocate for increased local control offered by the MTW Program and who previously introduced the Moving to Work Reform and Expansion Act in 2016, applauded this announcement:
 
“California has some of the highest rental and housing costs in the country, making it tough for many Californians to make ends meet. With the Housing Authority of the County of Kern selected to participate in the MTW Program, new and innovative rental reforms will be tested in our community to help increase resident self-sufficiency and reduce hardships. 
 
“Local experts know best what is needed in our community, and participating in the MTW Program will provide Kern County housing officials with the flexibility that they need to best utilize the Federal funding that Kern County receives, as well as allow them to implement reforms to its current rent structure to help more county residents obtain affordable housing. Expanding affordable housing opportunities is all the more important after many individuals were laid off due to pandemic-related lockdowns in California.
 
“As one of only ten public housing authorities across America selected to join the Moving to Work Program in the second cohort of its expansion, I applaud the Housing Authority of the County of Kern for its proven track record of success and was proud to support its application to join the Moving to Work Program.” 

Stephen Pelz, Executive Director of the Housing Authority of the County of Kern shared the following quote:
“We are honored to be selected for Moving to Work and look forward to helping more residents and participants achieve self-sufficiency through innovative program reforms.”

Background:

  • Congress authorized the Moving to Work (MTW) Demonstration Program in 1998, which allows a limited number of PHAs to be exempt from certain HUD regulations. This flexibility allows these PHAs to experiment with innovative, locally-minded policies aimed at helping individuals in their communities who have fallen on hard times find employment, become self-sufficient, and obtain affordable housing.
  • The Fiscal Year 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 114-113) authorized an expansion of the MTW Demonstration Program by 100 additional PHAs over a period of 7 years. Congressman McCarthy supported P.L. 114-113, which was signed into law in December 2015.
  • Recognizing the successes made by PHAs participating in the MTW Program and building on P.L. 114-113, Congressman McCarthy introduced the Moving to Work Reform and Expansion Act in the 114th Congress, which aimed to expand MTW eligibility to all U.S. PHAs in good-standing with HUD, at a rate of 25 successful PHAs joining the MTW Program annually. This legislation also included critical reforms to ensure program accountability.
  • The Housing Authority of the County of Kern (Kern) is joining the MTW Program during the second cohort of the expansion authorized by P.L. 114-113. As part of the second cohort, Kern will focus on rental reform by creating a stepped rent structure that will incentivize housing program participants to increase their income, thus improving self-sufficiency among participants. Kern will also utilize reduced administrative costs allowed under the MTW Program to provide housing program participants with increased housing subsidies to make higher opportunity neighborhoods available to them.