Senate Passes HUD McKinney and Renter Protections
May 06, 2009
Legislation to reauthorize the McKinney-Vento Act housing programs administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was passed out of the Senate on May 6, 2009 as an amendment to S. 896, the "Helping Families Save Their Homes Act." The amendment, authored by Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), would codify the Continuum of Care process and consolidate three competitive HUD McKinney programs (Supportive Housing, Shelter Plus Care, and Section 8 Single Room Occupancy) into a single program with greater flexibility. The bill would also rename the Emergency Shelter Grant program as the Emergency Solutions Grant program and expand eligible activities to include short- and medium-term rental assistance, housing relocation assistance, and additional activities to prevent homelessness. Additionally, the bill creates new flexibility for nonprofits in rural areas and directs the Interagency Council on Homelessness to develop a national plan to end homelessness and work to eliminate laws and policies that criminalize homelessness. While the bill is not perfect, NLCHP believes that it represents an important step forward.
In addition to Senator Reed's HUD McKinney amendment, S. 896 as passed by the Senate also included an important renter protection amendment offered by Senator John Kerry (D-MA). Senator Kerry's amendment would require that in any foreclosure made "on a federally-related mortgage loan or on any dwelling or residential real property after the date of enactment", tenants in such dwellings with bona-fide leases or tenancies would have the right to remain in the unit for the remainder of their lease and would have the right to 90 days notice prior to eviction. A recent review of state foreclosure laws by NLCHP and the National Low-Income Housing Coalition found that renter notification laws were uneven across states and in only a few states did tenancy survive foreclosure (a copy of the report "Without Just Cause" may be found here). NLCHP supported both the Reed and Kerry amendments.
The Senate passed its version of S. 896 by a vote of 94-5. A companion bill to S. 896 has already passed the House but lacks the tenant protection and McKinney reauthorization provisions. The next step in the process will be for the House and Senate to appoint a conference committee to address differences between the two bills. Once the conference committee has agreed to the language, the bill must be passed again by the full House and Senate and be signed by the President in order to become law.