McCarthy Introduces Public Housing Reform
Bakersfield, CA - Congressman Kevin McCarthy introduced legislation to reform and expand a popular public housing program that gives local communities greater control in serving our neighbors. McCarthy introduced the legislation at an event at the Residences at West Columbus in Bakersfield. He was joined by Kern Public Housing Authority Executive Director, Stephen Pelz and Tulare Public Housing Authority Executive Director, Ken Kugler.
McCarthy’s legislation, H.R. 5137, the Moving to Work Reform and Expansion Act, expands a pilot program from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, known as Moving to Work, that gives local communities more power in determining how federal resources are utilized to attain the original goal of getting those who have fallen on tough times back on their feet.
In 1998, Congress authorized a few dozen Public Housing Authorities to be exempt from Department of Housing and Urban Development regulations (HUD) to experiment with better ways to provide the opportunity for those who have fallen on tough times to get back on their feet. This program is called Moving to Work (MTW).
Participating agencies were allowed to use their own initiative in managing their investments, working with non-profit partners, and introducing policy. The principle was simple: no one central authority can predict or regulate away the problems unique to the 3,300 public housing authorities operating in America. Local experts, with careers spent serving our community, are better equipped to know the people and priorities of our county than a distant bureaucracy.
In our Valley, the Housing Authority of Tulare County was one of the original agencies chosen to participate in MTW. Tulare used the program’s freedoms to deliver more housing at lower costs than agencies directed by the federal bureaucracy. Through MTW, Tulare adopted policies that raised the average income of their tenants by 67%, more than six times the national average. As Tulare and many of the other 38 original agencies demonstrated, the Moving-to-Work program is simply a more efficient way to provide public housing than the federal government.
This bill allows responsible agencies in good standing and with firm plans for utilizing MTW– agencies like the Kern Housing Authority – to apply for participation in an improved, permanent Moving-to-Work program. This bill gradually transitions agencies into the program to ensure a seamless continuation of services as participation grows. Furthermore, it improves the original program’s reporting and accountability processes, and adds protections to ensure that the interests of those in need are never overlooked.
This legislation is supported by numerous local agencies, including: United Way of Kern County, Clinica Sierra Vista, Flood Bakersfield Ministries, The Mission, California Veterans Assistance Foundation, the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities and the Public Housing Authorities Directors Association.