Congress may alter housing aid

Sunday, May 19, 2002

WASHINGTON -- People who get federal help to pay for housing should be required to work, and rules that discourage them from marrying and pursuing higher-paying jobs should be changed, a commission created by Congress will recommend.

The proposals are among the ideas laid out in the bipartisan Millennial Housing Commission's final report that soon will go to Capitol Hill.

The executive summary of the 150-page report was obtained by The Associated Press.

The report urges lawmakers to devote significant new federal money and more attention to the worsening housing shortage.

"The nation faces a widening gap between the demand for affordable housing and the supply of it," the report says. "It is time for America to put ... quality-of-life issues on a par with cost considerations and make housing programs work to improve communities and individual lives."

Lawmakers created the 21-member commission in 1999 to guide them on changes in housing policy. Led by former Republican Rep. Susan Molinari and New York developer Richard Ravitch, the panel includes representatives from a broad range of ideological viewpoints.

There has been renewed interest in housing in the past year. That is in part due to growing evidence that housing problems affect not just the poorest families, but many middle-income Americans as well.

At a meeting this week in Washington, the National Conference of Mayors plans to develop recommendations for Congress on housing policy.

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