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WASHINGTON, DC-In what could be the federal government’s biggest push in recent times to address low-income housing needs, the US House of Representatives passed a bill last night that could overhaul the housing voucher program.

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

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

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

Currently over 4.5 million households receive assistance through HUD’s various rental assistance programs, including the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, public housing, and other project-based subsidy programs.

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

“The bill will improve the efficiency of the initiative, encourage self-sufficiency for low-income families, promote homeownership, and ensure that vouchers can be used to create new affordable housing developments for seniors, disabled, and homeless people.”

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