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“Moving to Work Charter Program 2015.”

Legislation and Political Context

“Moving to Work Charter Program 2015” is a bill geared towards authorizing the facilitating improvement of the effectiveness of public accommodation agencies under federal housing assistance and for other uses. The bill directs the Secretary responsible for housing and development in urban areas to go into charter agreements with approximately 250 public housing organizations that administer programs for public housing. The bill further states that those charters shall do the following. First, they shall surpass and have a time commensurate with any yearly contributions contract concerning a PHA (public housing agency) and the secretary (Opencongress.org, 2015). Secondly, the charters shall provide that a PHA, who is participating, shall receive capital and assistance for the operation allocated to the contract under definite laws (Opencongress.org, 2015).

The charter is exempted from the necessities of the Housing Act of United States of 1937 except for expenditures of wages dominant in the community and the pulling down and nature of public housing (Opencongress.org, 2015). Further, the Bill necessitates that a charter contract provides that a PHA do the following. First, he may combine section 8 of low-income assistance and PHCOF (Public Housing Capital and Operating Fund) help and use it for housing assistance and associated services for undertakings provided in the Act. Secondly, he shall guarantee that a minimum of 75 percent of the families assisted is relatively low-income families (Opencongress.org, 2015). Thirdly, shall launch a realistic rent policy intended to inspire employment, self-support, and home possession by contributing families (Opencongress.org, 2015). Fourthly, he must meet all the other specified additional necessities (Opencongress.org, 2015). At this point, the secretary is bound by the Bill to sign up a federal consultative committee to assess and come up with a demo program to assess standards. Further, the program tests practices for a nationwide public accommodation agency certification system or other assessment system.

The Bill was introduced by Senator Vitter David of Los Angeles on the seventh of January, 2015 (Opencongress.org, 2015). On the same date, the bill was introduced in the Senate and was read twice upon which it was referred to a congressional committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. After this, the bill will be discussed in the Senate after which it will be tabled in House for debate. If the House passes the Bill, the president will sign it into law and may take effect immediately or at some time depending on the agency of its application. In accordance with the importance and the urgency of this bill, it will be effected upon the appending of the signature by the president. This is so because it is set to achieve crescendo milestones in a span of three years starting with 2015.

In accordance with the phase-in necessities, the Secretary is legible to go into charter contracts that is bound to begin in 2015 fiscal year with at least 80 agencies offering public housing programs. By the time 2016 fiscal year raptures, the secretary should have signed charter contracts with at least 160 agencies that are offering public housing programs as provided for in the Act (Opencongress.org, 2015). Similarly, the secretary must have signed contracts with at least 250 agencies providing public housing services as provided in the Act. At the end of 2017 fiscal year, the established committee responsible for overseeing the effective implementation of the legislation together with the Secretary will provide a report and recommendations (Opencongress.org, 2015). The Congress will be the recipient of the report to verify the effectiveness of the program. For this reason, the Act must take effect once the president assents to it.

The Bill is particularly supported by quite a number of senators. They describe it as an important legislation platform that will facilitate the acquiring of houses by the low-income earners. The Bill is not experiencing intense opposition but has been referred to a committee for rectification of several shortcoming pinpointed by the Senate and for fine-tuning. One of the political controversies that have arisen around the bill is its credibility to ensure that at least 75 percent of the families assisted through the charter contracts will be from low-income earning families. There lacks a criteria through which the low-income earning families will be established. A loophole exists as to whether corruption will not take a course when it comes to determining whether or not a family is a low income earning one. The other political controversy arises on the issue of continuity of the program after the report and recommendations of the committee at the end of 2017 fiscal year are submitted to the Congress. The bone of contention is what will happen to the low-income earners who were looking forward to owning a home if the program is found ineffective and thus discontinued.

This legislation has some interesting aspects that are worth describing. The first interesting aspect is that the bill purely focuses on helping the low-income earners to secure a home for themselves. It will be a great milestone in improving the standards of life of the economically disadvantaged. This way, these population will be less engaged in unproductive activities such as involvement in crimes for sustainment in terms of rent and will lead to improved health by offloading the distressed areas. Similarly, affordable housing will stimulate and social integration in the process of building the community. Also, the bill has an interesting aspect of aiming at encouraging employment hence, self-sufficiency that will in long run lead to homeownership by the participating families in accordance with the intentions of the Act. The other intriguing aspect of the legislation is the opportunity that it the public is given a hearing by the involved agencies before the application of this legislation by such agencies. The application of the legislation is then done taking into account the comments provided by the public during the public hearing with an inclusion of the views of prospective residents.

Problem Analysis

The legislation above is geared towards impacting on the affordability of houses to the low-income earners in California and United States, in general. High prices for houses have become a matter of concern by the lawmakers and the public in USA. As studies have shown, unaffordable housing drives businesses away and thus greatly hampering the growth of job opportunities in those areas (Freeman & Harden, 2014). Unaffordability of housing has several eminent causes. The first cause of unaffordable housing in California is the high costs of construction (Wegmann, 2014). Usually, the cost, of building a private house, is far too high than a low-income earner can afford. For this reason, many of these persons are unable to develop their houses. The second cause of unaffordable housing in California is the inexistence of a proper legislation that assists in the provision of affordable housing specifically targeting the very low income earning population. The third cause is the inadequate agencies with enough resources to provide affordable housing (Wegmann, 2014).

These causes are of importance to the mayor because they result in some negative economic and social effects. The first effect of unaffordable housing is that the high costs of housing scares away investors who would like to start businesses in these areas (Kleit & Page, 2014). The result is that there is a slow growth of employment opportunities that in turn leads to joblessness and hence the high rate of crimes. The second effect is on education. As the research has shown, inaccessibility to affordable housing leads to deteriorated educational outcomes on the affected occupants (Chakrabarti & Zhang, 2010). This deterioration, as has been proven through research, is caused by involuntary mobility that the affected are forced into by eviction or inability to meet the required rent payments. The third effect is to health. As the research has shown, inaccessibility to affordable housing has negative health results of occupants because of exposure to environmental contaminants and further hazards. This emanates from the poor quality housing that poses a threat to the health of the residents (Kleit & Page, 2014). Also, unaffordable housing leads to the usage of resources that would be used to pay for health care services or to buy nutritious food. Economically, unaffordable housing is connected to minimum taxes to the federal government (Chakrabarti & Zhang, 2010). This scenario results to minimum funds in federal reserves which can be invested back into the community by the government and thus leads to slow economic growth.

The problems above that are caused by unaffordable housing are deep-rooted among the Walnut Creek City community in California. The importance of the proposed legislation to the community of Walnut Creek City is very immense. This is so because, if the legislation is well implemented, these eminent problems will be solved as time progresses. Investors will be lured into investing thus creating employment, and the residents will have more to save for better medical services and nutritious food (Kleit & Page, 2014). Also, the quality of education will improve as a result of permanency and minimal dislocations and the taxes to the federal government will increase which will translates to more giving back to the community. This will boost both social and economic growth of the Walnut Creek City community.

The evidence showing that the proposed legislation will ease the problems associated with unaffordable housing is evident from research carried out by Wegmann (2014). In this research, Wegmann (2014), developed an empirical investigation using Roback model of explaining differentials in land rents and income in different cities. After this empirical investigation, the model presented two implications. The first is that in cities with advanced amenities, affordability of housing is less. This is attributed to the fact that advanced amenities result to poorer wages and advanced housing prices a combination that depicts less affordable housing (Lee & Yoo, 2014). The second implication is that cities with minimum affordable housing encounters sluggish employment growth. In this regard, the legislation will make available some basic amenities to the low-income earners of Walnut Creek City community a move that will make available affordable housing. As a result of affordable housing, the Walnut Creek City will experience a rejuvenated employment growth that will lead to economic growth and reduced crime rate.

Existing Resources to Deal with the Problem

Walnut Creek is one of the cities in California bound to benefit from several programs of affordable housing that are obtainable by the community members. These programs are managed by both public and private organizations. These organizations can assist the community members and other agencies in securing affordable housing. The first Agency is CHFA (California Housing Finance Agency) (Lee & Yoo, 2014). It is a loan program that gives decreases interest rates for long-lasting housing projects that assist disabled occupants who need special services. This agency also manages the Down-Payment Assistance Program for homebuyers. The second program is FSHP (Fair Share Homeownership Program) which is administered by HUD (Housing and Urban Development). HUD permits the use of Section 8 Fair Share vouchers owning a home (Kleit & Page, 2014).

The other agency is the Housing Authority (HA) (Kleit & Page, 2014).California State does not possess or run public housing programs. For this reason, public housing is run unswervingly through a number of local PHAs (Public Housing Authorities). The fourth agency is NHP (Non-profit Housing Association of Northern California) which work hand in hand with CAHLP (California Affordable Housing Law Project) to provide affordable and high-density accommodations. In some jurisdictions, there are no local PHAs. For this reason, the Department of HCD has a program that assists in providing affordable housing and is administered through the Fair Share Section. In addition to the above programs and agencies, California has a plan dubbed “Housing Elements” for every local jurisdiction such as Walnut Creek City. This element is a long-term plan stipulating how local jurisdiction plans to sufficiently attend to the existing projecting housing needs of the community from all economic spheres (Kleit & Page, 2014).

Regardless all of the above programs that are enough resources to deal with the housing problem, there are some shortcomings that hinder their effectiveness. First, the assistance that is offered by most of these agencies and programs can only be afforded by the middle calls or those who can affordable some amount or can repay the loan. Secondly, the few agencies and programs that specifically target the low-income earners are overburden to do so because of the escalating needs for affordable housing. For this reason, the programs are unable to meet the escalating need for affordable housing.

It is in the light of this deficit that the proposed legislation dubbed “Moving to Work Charter Program 2015” is developed. The Charter gears towards engaging at least 250 public agencies for housing targeting over 75 percent of low-income earners by the end of 2017 fiscal year. This way, the speedily escalating need for affordable housing will be at par with the rate of provision of affordable housing. The programs that should be increased are the ones specifically targeting the very low-income earners in Walnut Creek community and US, in general. Also, the resources given to the oversight committee for the program should be intensified to ensure a transparent execution of the program.

Conclusion

The problem of affordable housing particularly for the low-income earners have been speedily escalating in United States. Some of the causes of this problem are the inadequacy of housing programs specifically targeting the very low-income earners and high cost of construction. Lack of proper legislation that directly addresses the problem from the point of view of low income earning population is the other cause. This unaffordability causes some problems such as poor performance in education because of frequent relocations, and exposure to the health hazard conditions attributed to poor quality housing. The other effect is poor growth of employment attributed to low investment because of high costs of housing. These effects are bound to reduce significantly if the proposed “Moving to Work Charter Program 2015” bill is passed and is articulately implemented by the involved stakeholders.

 

References

Chakrabarti, R., & Zhang, J. (2010). Unaffordable Housing and Local Employment Growth. Retrieved 29 January 2015, from https://www.bostonfed.org/economic/neppc/wp/2010/neppcwp103.pdf

Freeman, A., & Harden, J. (2014). Affordable Homeownership: The Incidence and Effect of Down Payment Assistance. Housing Policy Debate, 1-12. doi:10.1080/10511482.2014.915226

Kleit, R., & Page, S. (2014). The Changing Role of Public Housing Authorities in the Affordable Housing Delivery System. Housing Studies, 1-24. doi:10.1080/02673037.2014.953919

Lee, H., & Yoo, S. (2014). A Case Study of Affordable Housing Supply Programme considering the Quality of Housing Environment. Journal of the Architectural Institute Of Korea Planning & Design, 30(7), 91-100. doi:10.5659/jaik_pd.2014.30.7.91

Opencongress.org. (2015). Text of S.65 as Introduced in Senate: Moving to Work Charter Program Act of 2015 – U.S. Congress – OpenCongress. Retrieved 29 January 2015, from https://www.opencongress.org/bill/s65-114/text

Wegmann, J. (2014). Measuring What Matters: A Call for a Meaningful Metric of Affordable Rental Housing Production Cost-Efficiency. Housing Policy Debate, 24(4), 692-716. doi:10.1080/10511482.2014.944851

 

 

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