(Read more on the debt and equity markets andthe multifamilymarket .)

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WASHINGTON, DC-In what could be the federal government's biggestpush in recent times to address low-income housing needs, the USHouse of Representatives passed a bill last night that couldoverhaul the housing voucher program.

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Called the Section 8 Voucher Reform Act of 2007, thelegislation, which passed 333-83, would amend the United StatesHousing Act of 1937 to change certain aspects of the Department ofHousing and Urban Development's rental assistance programs.

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Among other changes, the bill alters calculations of income,tenant rent, and public housing authority funding, changerequirements for the inspection of housing units, and adjustrequirements for the targeting of housing assistance.

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The bill would add 20,000 vouchers a year over five years to theprogram. CBO estimates that implementing this legislation wouldhave a net cost of $2.4 billion.

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Currently over 4.5 million households receive assistance throughHUD's various rental assistance programs, including the Section 8Housing Choice Voucher program, public housing, and otherproject-based subsidy programs.

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi says in a statement that the legislationwill provide housing for 100,000 families over the next five years,in addition to the close to two million households already servedby Section 8.

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"The bill will improve the efficiency of the initiative,encourage self-sufficiency for low-income families, promotehomeownership, and ensure that vouchers can be used to create newaffordable housing developments for seniors, disabled, and homelesspeople."

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