WISCONSINREPORT.COM (12/04/2009) - Today, U.S. Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) introduced the Asset Management Improvement Act. This legislation is designed to ease administrative burdens on public housing agencies placed on them by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and allow them to operate more efficiently.
"The asset management requirements placed on our nationís public housing agencies has proven to be costly, inflexible and extremely difficult to administer," Senator Kohl said.
"Public housing agencies serve low income populations across the country and these requirements have hindered their ability to serve their tenants," Kohl added.
Due to a 2005 rule published by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, all public housing agencies are required to convert to asset management.
Kohl and Senator Snowe point out that much of the guidance issued by HUD applies a one size fits all approach to managing housing units. HUD has treated managing every public housing program the same, when in fact the multiple programs serve very different populations and operate in extremely different ways.
Additionally, the regulations imposed by HUD have caused PHAs to lose operating funds and left many short-staffed.
Finally, the asset management rules issued by HUD are incomplete and unclear, leaving PHAs uncertain of funding levels for each year.
While Congress has attempted to address some of these issues through HUD Appropriations legislation, permanent fixes are necessary to ensure better guidance to PHAs.
The proposed legislation will help mitigate the problems caused by the rule and help PHAs better serve tenants by addressing the key issues that have arisen due to asset management conversion.
Specifically, the bill would do the following:
1. Require a new negotiated rulemaking between HUD and public housing officials to determine a reasonable management fee.
2. Restore flexible funding between capital and operating funds for PHAs, as allowed by Congress under the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998.
3. Allow small and medium sized PHAs to opt out of asset management if they choose. This will affect only 441 PHAs across the country, most of them being the smallest in the Nation, and many serving rural communities.
4. It will limit the loss of operating funds to the public housing agencies that opt out.
5. Encourage tenants to voice concerns and opinions about issues affecting the public housing units in which they live.
This legislation is supported by the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials, the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities, and the Public Housing Authorities Directors Association.