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Rep. Bowman introduces legislation to cap federally subsidized rent at 20% of families' income

Bowman said public housing has been historically underfunded by the federal government and argued the area median income to designate a unit as affordable in Westchester is still too high for most people.

Jonathan Gordon

Jun 10, 2024, 7:02 PM

Updated 10 days ago

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The cost of rent has become unaffordable for a record number of Americans.
A recent Harvard report found half of all renters are paying more than 30% of their income on rent and utilities. Census data shows homes with the lowest annual incomes are experiencing the largest increases in the amount they spend to put a roof over their heads.
Stephanie Allen, who is retired and lives with her daughter on a fixed income at the Bracey Houses in New Rochelle, is one of millions of Americans forced to tighten their belt.
"I can't afford $3,000 a month rent in all these buildings all around New Rochelle," she said. "I can't afford that."
Allen, like other federally subsidized housing recipients, is capped at paying 30% of her income to rent. On Monday, Rep. Jamaal Bowman unveiled his newest piece of legislation that would lower that to 20%.
"This is an across-the-district issue and an across-the-county issue and so we have to push new ideas, a new agenda and a new vision for affordable housing," Bowman said.
The announcement came as New Rochelle opened up its Section 8 voucher waitlist for the first time since 2020.
Bowman said public housing has been historically underfunded by the federal government and argued the area median income to designate a unit as affordable in Westchester is still too high for most people.
The New Rochelle Municipal Housing Authority (NRMHA) provides public housing for those with a limited income in the city. NRMHA Executive Director Angela Davis-Farrish said the bill has her local support.
"Real affordable housing is where residents are only paying a certain amount of their income toward their rent," she said.
Advocates said the savings would mean a boost in discretionary income and savings for those who need it the most.
"That would be a little better for me and my daughter," Allen said.
Bowman said the newly introduced bill does not have any co-sponsors at the moment but he added that several of his congressional colleagues will soon be on board by the end of the year.


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