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TANF Reauthorization and Related Housing Bills

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Did You Know?
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Congress has issued funding for the TANF program until June 30, 2003, until a final law is passed.


The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, which was created by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, is currently up for reauthorization in the US Congress. Why is this important for Public Housing Agencies? Because families receiving or eligible for TANF constitute a large percentage of those families served by federal housing programs. It is particularly important for WtW voucher coordinators to understand how the proposed changes could affect their clients and the resources available to help clients transition from welfare to work.

At the same time, the TANF reauthorization debate has caused many legislators to examine the connection between stable, affordable housing and the ability of welfare recipients to move off of TANF. Some of the TANF reauthorization bills include important housing components, while certain housing bills include components to help families move from welfare to work.

Key legislative updates include the following: (information last updated March 2003)

  • Congress will continue funding for TANF until June 30, 2003. On February 13, the House and Senate approved the fiscal year (FY) 2003 omnibus appropriations bill (H.J. Res. 2). The bill will extend the TANF block grant, through June 30, 2003.

  • Congress will continue funding for TANF until March 30, 2003.

  • Senate Passes Continuing Resolution (CR). In November 2002, the Senate passed a CR to provide continued funding for government operations through January 11, 2003. The bill would continue funds for most non-defense programs at the 2002 enacted level. The CR provides second quarter funding to keep state TANF programs in operation.

  • Three-Month TANF Extension Issued. In late September 2002, Congress issued a three-month extension of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. This extension will last until December 31, 2002, and will allow states to continue to receive federal funding while Congress decides on an agreement to extend the program.

  • "Tri-Partisan" TANF Reauthorization Bill Would Make it Easier to Use TANF Funds for Housing. On June 26, 2002, the Senate Finance Committee approved legislation to reauthorize the TANF block grant that would make it easier for states to use TANF funds for housing assistance. The attached Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report analyzes the Senate Finance Committee bill on changes to the TANF law. The report analyzes the bill's work requirements, family formation, child support enforcement, legal immigrant eligibility options, transitional medical assistance, TANF funding, and childcare funding. View this report for more information on the Senate Finance Committee's bill.

  • FY 2003 VA-HUD Appropriations Bill Adds Additional Housing Vouchers. In July 2002, Chair of the Senate Banking Committee, Senator Paul Sarbanes, filed S. 2791, the Housing Voucher Improvements Act of 2002. This bill would make it easier for families to use housing vouchers and increases the potential of vouchers to promote mobility to better neighborhoods with greater access to employment. Specific provisions of the bill include the following:
    • full or partial restoration of the cuts the Administration had proposed compared with FY 2002 funding levels (particularly for public housing)
    • funding for 15,000 new housing vouchers (rather than the 34,000 new vouchers requested by the Administration), including $20 million for WtW vouchers, which would fund 3,400 - 4,000 vouchers for 12 months
    • an addition to the U.S. Housing Act, which would make authorization of the WtW voucher program permanent.

    View a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis of this bill for a discussion of the potential impact of these vouchers and ongoing need for greater housing assistance.
  • Housing Voucher Improvements Act of 2002 Filed by Senate. In July 2002, Chair of the Senate Banking Committee, Senator Paul Sarbanes, filed S. 2791, the Housing Voucher Improvements Act of 2002. This bill would make it easier for families to use housing vouchers and increases the potential of vouchers to promote mobility to better neighborhoods with greater access to employment. Specific provisions of the bill include the following:
    • five-year authorization for the Welfare-to-Work Housing Voucher Program
    • expansion of the Family Self-Sufficiency program
    • allowance of ROSS grant funds to serve Section 8 families
    • allowance of third-party payments for earnings disregards
    • requirement that state and local Consolidated Plans be developed in consultation with agencies administering TANF and Workforce Investment Act programs (these plans are to also consider the effects of housing location on employment opportunities for TANF families)

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities created a chart that compares the voucher and welfare reform-related provisions of S. 2791 with the housing bill approved by the House Financial Services Committee, HR 3995.

To view the text of the bills and track their status as they move through Congress, visit the Library of Congress' legislative information page. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is also doing a special report series on TANF reauthorization that analyzes the key issues in the debate.

During the next few months, it will be important for policymakers to hear from their constituents. To take part in this process, you can contact your state senators and representatives to tell them what's going on in your state, share your concerns, and weigh in on the different proposals.

 
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