Congressman John Carney thinks Delaware’s Moving to Work housing program should be expanded from 39 agencies to 60 nationwide.
The program gives federal dollars to local housing authorities and lets those agencies prioritize how the dollars should be spent. It began in 1996 during the Clinton administration.
The Delaware State Housing Authority is one of 39 Moving to Work sites. Carney was in Dover Tuesday to praise its success and announce he’s sponsoring a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would authorize the program’s expansion.
Anas Ben Addi, director of the Delaware State Housing Authority, said in the last 20 years the Moving to Work program has graduated 855 families – 35 percent of them now own homes. Over half of them have left state run housing and now rent at market rates.
The program helps residents of places like Liberty Court Apartments in Dover organize their finances. Ben Addi said they take 35% of a persons income as rent. If a renter’s wages go up, then a cap is determined and any extra dollars beyond the cap are put in a savings account. The saved money can then be used later to buy a home.
Rhiana Turner of Dover benefited from the program. She described herself as a single mother who was laid off from her Dover financial services job in December 2005. At first she asked for assistance to cover her rent. A few years later she qualified for the Moving to Work program and was able to rent a Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) apartment.
Turner said gradually she went from a 20 hour a week job, to 35 hours, and eventually full time. She said DSHA organized her finances so that she could put money down for a home mortgage in March 2014.
Carney said programs like Moving to Work are examples of how more people can move to the middle class. It’s also an example of how government money, spent locally, can be tailored to a specific need.
In his legislation he wants the program and the Rental Assistance Demonstration to expand to 60 agencies. Carney admitted that the U.S. Housing and Urban Development office expressed concerns that, if the program were to expand, HUD’s ability for accountability would be reduced. Carney said safeguards would be put in place.