Mayor Michael A. Nutter joined the mayors of Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Tacoma, Washington; Boston, Massachusetts; and Baltimore, Maryland in sponsoring a United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) resolution strongly urging Congress to take action to maintain current funding levels and local decision-making abilities for Moving To Work (MTW) housing programs across the country. The resolution was passed during the 83rd Annual United States Conference of Mayors convening in San Francisco last weekend.
“The Moving To Work program is critical to the development and advancement of our Nation’s cities,” said Mayor Nutter. “Cities are the drivers of our Nation’s economy; more than 80% of Americans live in urban areas. As Mayors, we rely on programs like MTW to support our local housing authorities and provide safe, affordable housing for low-income and impoverished citizens. I implore Congress to take action on this very important issue and vote to support Americans living in cities and metro-regions.”
MTW is a federal program for public housing authorities that provides them the opportunity to design and test innovative housing strategies that use federal dollars more efficiently, help residents find employment and become self-sufficient, and increase housing choices for low-income families. MTW also continues to be an important resource in providing permanent housing opportunities to special populations, including veterans, the homeless, children aging out of foster care and persons with disabilities.
In response to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) decision in August 2014 to drastically change the structure of the MTW demonstration program, Mayors of affected cities across the country have rallied together in an attempt to stop the significant cuts to the programs in their communities and prevent untold numbers of low-income households from losing their desperately needed housing assistance. Philadelphia is threatened with the loss of more than $49 million dollars per year. Such a loss would devastate the housing authority’s revitalization and development plans, as well as its existing housing stock.
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Mayor of Baltimore, Maryland, said, “Funding for MTW is now at risk of being drastically reduced, which would devastate Baltimore’s efforts to provide adequate housing to those in need and impair its ability to use alternative policies to increase the cost-effectiveness of assisted housing programs, promote the self-sufficiency of assisted families, and increase housing choices for low-income families. It is imperative that MTW be extended for another ten years, or be made permanent, and that the appropriate funding and flexibility be preserved.”
The resolution implores HUD to delay the implementation of the revised MTW program until the newly proposed program can be tested and HUD makes adequate guarantees that the Nation’s most vulnerable populations are not negatively affected by the changes to the program.
Edward Murray, Mayor of Seattle, Washington, said, “I applaud Mayor Nutter for the leadership he has shown in on this important issue. Our housing authorities are one of our strongest partners in serving those most in need. As housing costs continue to skyrocket, now is not the time for HUD to be ratcheting back housing programs, like Moving to Work, that provide flexibility for communities to find solutions that meet local needs.”
Charlie Hales, Mayor of Portland, Oregon, said, “I applaud the passage of this resolution, showing the support of our nation’s mayors for the Moving to Work program. Moving to Work allows for innovative solutions to address challenges such as veteran homelessness. In Portland, it facilitated Bud Clark Commons, a complex project which provides a haven, permanent homes, and a path forward for people experiencing homelessness. Moving to Work works, and I am proud of the US Conference of Mayors’ recognition of this program.”
Marilyn Strickland, Mayor of Tacoma, Washington, said, “Tacoma’s McCarver Housing Program improves outcomes for our youngest students by addressing family homelessness and mobility. This nationally recognized program would not be possible without Moving to Work funding flexibility. If we want to continue and expand this proven program to more neighborhood elementary schools, funding flexibility for our housing authority is crucial.”