Press Releases

Rep. Peters’ Bill to Reduce Housing Assistance Red Tape Passes House of Representatives

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Housing Assistance Efficiency Act, introduced last summer by U.S. Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52), passed the House of Representatives unopposed. It comes as the City of San Diego seeks to find a permanent home for its temporary homeless shelter, and as the colder winter season places homeless populations across the country in an increasingly vulnerable position.

“San Diego is blessed with quality homeless service providers who know best how to serve those in need. This bill removes a non-essential layer of red tape that will save money and allow people to get housing help more quickly," Rep. Peters said. “We shouldn’t be saddling the Department of Housing and Urban Development or our services providers with more administrative work that only slows down the process and doesn't add value."

Peters continued, “We must ensure that community experts at non-profits across the San Diego region are not hamstrung by federal inaction. I’m proud of the work being done in San Diego to end chronic homelessness and will continue to advocate for solutions like this one.”

View Scott’s speech in the U.S. House of Representatives about the Housing Assistance Efficiency Act HERE or below.

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“The Housing Assistance Efficiency Act will help relieve the obstacles associated with coordinating federal funds to address homelessness in San Diego, so we can focus on helping our most vulnerable individuals and families through national best practices.  I am thankful for Congressman Peters’ continued advocacy and support for this important issue,” said San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria, who serves as Governance Board Chair of the Regional Continuum of Care Council (RCCC).

In its letter of support for the bill, the San Diego Housing Federation stated in part “By allowing private nonprofits to administer federal rental assistance and reducing the period of reallocation of funds from twice a year to once a year, this bill removes barriers to helping get important resources to those who need it most. With the third largest homeless population in the nation, this bill is especially significant to helping the San Diego region work to end homelessness in our communities.”

Now that the Housing Assistance Efficiency Act has passed the House of Representatives, it moves to the Senate where it will need to pass before the end of the year, so it can move to President Obama’s desk for signature into law.

Background: Legislative changes to increase efficiency

  • Mandate the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) conduct reallocation of funds once a year instead of twice a year

Twice a fiscal year, HUD has to reallocate Emergency Solutions Grants program funds that are unused, returned, or otherwise become available for the program. But there are almost never any unused or returned funds in this program. That unnecessary second reporting requires significant staff resources to complete. It is administratively more efficient to reallocate funds only once a year. This frees up HUD employees to provide more human resources towards providing better service to constituents.

  • Permanently include private nonprofits in the category of entities allowed to administer federal rental assistance

Prior to 2009, private non-profits could directly administer rental assistance through HUD’s Continuum of Care program, but a change in 2009 obfuscated rental assistance laws, and private nonprofits were left off the list of entities allowed to administer rental assistance. That change pushed a huge administrative burden onto an already stretched HUD budget. Right now, thanks to a temporary fix from the last omnibus appropriations bill, non-profits are able to administer rental assistance but that expires next week. This legislation will permanently allow non-profits to administer the assistance, giving certainty to the system and those who rely on it.

During his first term in Congress Representative Peters has worked to combat homelessness. In addition to the Housing Assistance Efficiency Act he introduced the Shelter Our Servicemembers (SOS) Act to help address San Diego’s significant elderly homeless veteran population. He has also been in constant contact with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to ensure cities have a fair funding formula that allows them to adequately address their homeless population.