Carney touts bill expanding housing program

U.S. Rep. John Carney (D-Del.) emphasizes a point during a news conference Tuesday at Liberty Court Apartments in Dover. He said his proposed legislation will expand options for affordable housing. (Delaware State News photo by Dave Chambers)

U.S. Rep. John Carney (D-Del.) emphasizes a point during a news conference Tuesday at Liberty Court Apartments in Dover. He said his proposed legislation will expand options for affordable housing. (Delaware State News photo by Dave Chambers)

DOVER — As a result of what he called the success of The Moving to Work program in Delaware, U.S. Rep. John Carney, D-Del., said he will introduce a bill to expand the housing subsidy program throughout the nation.

His “Housing Assistance Reform Act” would increase housing options for low-income people and eliminate the current unit cap for the Rental Assistance Demonstration program. That would allow any eligible housing authority to participate, expanding from the current 39 agencies to 60, said the 59-year-old Wilmington Democrat.

Rep. Carney was joined by Anas Ben Addi, director of the Delaware State Housing Authority, and other guests Tuesday morning to discuss the bill in Dover.

“Sen. Tom Carper, Sen. Chris Coons and I spend a lot of time on the train back and forth from Washington,” Rep. Carney said. “We think about the constituents we represent in Delaware and what they need to be successful.

“We have a successful program in Delaware, so it was an easy decision for me to expand the program to more agencies across the country.”

The MTW program was created by Congress in 1996. It gives local housing authorities the flexibility to “create programs that meet the needs of low-income families while promoting self-sufficiency and increasing available housing options.”

Applicants for the Public Housing and Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers programs are placed on a combined waiting list for assistance.

Applicants are given the first available subsidy location, which may be a public housing site or in the form of a Housing Choice Voucher for use in the private market.

Delaware State Housing Authority director Anas Ben Addi discusses the merits of the Moving To Work program. 855 Delaware families have graduated so far from the Moving To Work program helping them increase their financial stability and move from subsidized housing to market rate rentals or homeownership.

Delaware State Housing Authority director Anas Ben Addi discusses the merits of the Moving To Work program. 855 Delaware families have graduated so far from the Moving To Work program helping them increase their financial stability and move from subsidized housing to market rate rentals or homeownership.

Most residents, with the exception of the elderly and disabled, are eligible to receive subsidy under these programs for a maximum of seven years while they take part in a mandatory self-sufficiency program.

“We have a savings account for our residents,” Mr. Addi said. “Once the residents have a savings in our program we calculate 35 percent of their income. They are required to pay in the form of rent.

“If their income goes up, their 30 percent is frozen in value and we don’t penalize them.”

The DSHA was one of the first agencies to participate in HUD’s Moving to Work pilot program in 1999. Since then, the MTW program has helped more than 800 Delaware families increase their financial stability and move from subsidized housing to market rate rentals or homeownership, officials said.

The program has disbursed more than $2.4 million back to MTW residents in savings for successfully completing the program.

Rhianna Turner, a single mother and MTW graduate, is a participant in the program.

“Moving To Work” program graduate Rhianna Turner of Magnolia spoke during Tuesday’s press conference about leaving the life of public assistance behind to now owning her own home steadily employed.  The Moving To Work program was created by Congress in 1996 to give local housing authorities the flexibility to create successful programs that meet the needs of low-income families while promoting self-sufficiency and increasing available housing options.

“Moving To Work” program graduate Rhianna Turner of Magnolia spoke during Tuesday’s press conference about leaving the life of public assistance behind to now owning her own home steadily employed. The Moving To Work program was created by Congress in 1996 to give local housing authorities the flexibility to create successful programs that meet the needs of low-income families while promoting self-sufficiency and increasing available housing options.

“As a young single mother I reached out to Delaware State Housing Authority for assistance with paying my rent after being laid off from my full-time job in 2005,” Ms. Turner said. “I was able to find work, but they were either part-time or temporary positions.”

Ms. Turner entered DSHA’s Moving to Work program in 2007 after being placed on the waiting list for about a year.

“At that point I was working as a full-time employee with this agency and I was able to secure housing at a more

affordable price for my circumstances at the time,” she said.

Although Ms. Turner was grateful to have help from the DSHA she always wanted to purchase a home of her own.

“The Delaware State Housing Authority’s assistance allowed me to save money, learn to budget, and improve my credit, all of which helped me move toward my dream of homeownership,” she said.

“Today, I have been in my home for a year and four months, and I am incredibly thankful for the help I received that allowed me to work towards this goal.

“There are many stresses in my life as a single mother to three children, but where we live is no longer one of them.”

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