New Report Shows Need to Reform Federal Housing Programs

“We Must Improve and Simplify an Overly Complex System”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate Budget Committee today released a new majority staff report showing the federal government’s current approach to housing assistance is falling short and calling on Congress to take steps to improve this system. Federal housing assistance is scattered across 20 different federal entities that administer 160 housing assistance programs and activities, creating confusion and significant headaches for those seeking assistance. 

“The federal government's current approach to housing assistance is failing the neediest among us,” said Chairman Enzi.  “It is a failure that last year Washington spent over $50 billion on housing, guaranteed about $2 trillion in home loans, and provided billions more through the tax code, yet more than half a million people in this country were homeless on a single night in 2019. This demonstrates that if we started from scratch, few would design the system we currently have. We must improve and simplify an overly complex system and work to streamline duplicative programs under one roof. That way the millions of Americans who need these services can find and actually use them.”

The Senate Budget Committee report found that:

  • The federal housing assistance system is failing those who need it most. All too often, it serves the bureaucracy.
  • Merging programs to eliminate duplication and overlap will make funding for housing programs go further. These programs, in turn, would be able to serve more people because they would be less confusing. This would make solutions easier to find and utilize. Reform would also push federal employees to focus on finding the best solutions for those seeking assistance as opposed to trying to preserve their isolated programs.
  • We spend billions each year on federal housing assistance, but the system is duplicative and too complicated.
  • Decades of shifting federal priorities have led to a system that is a patchwork of programs, laws, and regulatory red tape across multiple agencies. Congress over the years has had one good idea after another, but by default created a system that is too confusing to be efficient or effective.
  • Basic information about the administrative costs of housing assistance programs, and the number of employees who work on them, is not publicly available. Among other challenges, this lack of transparency prevents objective analysis about where savings could be found.
  • Our current approach is no way to deliver services to the neediest Americans or responsibly steward billions in taxpayer dollars. 
  • Congress should undertake bipartisan review and reforms to create a modern housing assistance program to improve effectiveness and efficiency. 

The executive summary of the report can be found here.

The full report can be found here.

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