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WASHINGTON, DC-Eighty national organizations–including housing associations such as the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the National Fair Housing Alliance, the National Housing Law Project and the Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future–have penned a letter to the leadership of the US House of Representatives Committee on Rules opposing language in an amendment to the Federal Housing Finance Reform Act of 2005, or HR 1461. The legislation establishes a new Affordable Housing Fund. The organizations are challenging a stipulation that would prevent the involvement of nonprofit organizations in the new fund if those organizations have participated in such acts as nonpartisan voter registration over the last year.

Of particular note, HR 1461, which was well-received on both sides of the aisle in a 65-5 vote by the House Committee on Financial Services, would allow money from the Affordable Housing Fund to be steered toward the redevelopment of housing lost due to Hurricane Katrina for the first two years. Those submitting the letter argue that the proposal to bar certain nonprofits is unwarranted and, perhaps, unconstitutional, as safeguards are in place to prevent abuse, such as using funds for advocacy purposes.

“It would be wrong to deny the receipt of badly needed housing funds simply on the basis that a group has also encouraged citizens to vote or to express their opinions to Congress,” the complainants wrote. The organizations hope to convince members to vote on an amendment to dissolve the provisions; a move that, the organizations say, will not hinder the successful administration of the fund.

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