What: All Issues : Aid to Less Advantaged People, at Home & Abroad : America's Poor : H R 1227. Neugebauer of Texas Amendment to delete provision in Gulf Coast housing relief bill that would give families receiving temporary disaster vouchers Section 8 vouchers instead/On agreeing to the amendment (2007 house Roll Call 168)
 Who: All Members : New York, District 2 : King, Pete
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H R 1227. Neugebauer of Texas Amendment to delete provision in Gulf Coast housing relief bill that would give families receiving temporary disaster vouchers Section 8 vouchers instead/On agreeing to the amendment
house Roll Call 168     Mar 21, 2007
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This amendment, proposed by Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas), sought to strike a section of a bill to provide housing assistance to Gulf Coast residents affected by the 2005 hurricanes. The section Neugebauer wanted to strike would allow low-income residents who are receiving temporary disaster vouchers through FEMA to qualify for the Section 8 voucher program run by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Neugebauer said in floor debate that "this is not the place to debate whether we need to add additional vouchers to the voucher section 8 program."

Neugebauer said that the legislation as it was written would not just extend disaster vouchers but essentially make them permanent, by putting those in need of temporary relief in a permanent program. "The problem making these vouchers permanent is we are giving preference to [displaced] folks that are living in communities where other people have been in line" for the same Section 8 assistance, Neugebauer added.

Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) responded that exactly the opposite was true. The newly created Section 8 housing vouchers would only be "permanent" so long as the 12,000 recipients of FEMA assistance who prior to the hurricane were in the HUD program require aid. (Housing advocates estimate that 30,000 to 37,000 people are receiving disaster-related housing assistance of some kind.) "But as the people in that category no longer need them or are ineligible, [the vouchers] will disappear," said Frank. "This is a separate category of vouchers for people who were victims of disasters."

The real question, Frank said, was whether the federal government was willing to punish those currently receiving FEMA aid who previously received Section 8 assistance for what amounted to the government's failure to get its act together. If the government were to let the aid run out at the end of 2007, the displaced low-income residents would be competing with non-displaced low-income residents for Section 8 aid. "Abolish this separate category as of December 31, and then these people will be competing with other people," Frank said, exactly the scenario Neugebauer said he wanted to prevent.

Fourteen Republicans joined all but one Democrat present in voting to defeat Neugebauer's amendment. Thus, by a vote of 247-185, a bill to provide housing assistance to those affected by the 2005 hurricanes along the Gulf Coast went forward with a provision that allows low-income residents displaced by the natural disasters to qualify for Section 8 rental assistance.

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