HOPE VI Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2007 Passed in the House

By Anuradha Kher, Online News EditorWashington D.C.–The U.S. House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed, by a 271 to 30 margin, the H.R. 3524, the HOPE VI Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2007. This legislation, which ensures all new HOPE VI developments will meet green building criteria and, in that way, helps low-income families across the country.The bill mandates new HOPE VI revitalization projects to meet the Green Communities Criteria for residential construction, or other similar green rating systems determined by the Secretary of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). For non-residential buildings in HOPE VI developments, the bill requires the HUD Secretary to choose an appropriate green rating system. The debate now turns to the Senate where the Hope VI bill does not contain any green building mandates. “The leadership of the people who helped pass this legislation has meant not only more sustainable development but greater resident involvement and preservation of public housing and subsidized units,” says Doris W. Koo, president and CEO, Enterprise Community Partners, a provider of development capital and expertise to affordable housing projects. The green building provisions in H.R. 3524 were first introduced by Rep. Olver (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee, as stand-alone legislation and were incorporated into the broader HOPE VI reauthorization bill by House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Housing and Community Opportunity Subcommittee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.).HOPE VI resources have helped redevelop of severely distressed public housing nationwide since 1993. However, energy efficiency standards have not been incorporated into HUD’s selection criteria until now.Nearly 17 percent of a low-income family’s earnings are consumed by energy costs and nearly 40 percent by transportation costs. Green building reduces utility costs and increases a home’s efficiency, saving a low-income family hundreds of dollars each year, according to Enterprise Community Partners. “Cities and states across the country are raising the bar on the healthiness, energy efficiency, and environmental responsibility of affordable housing based on the Green Communities Criteria approach. With this vote, the 110th Congress had its first opportunity to live up to the spirit of the landmark energy legislation that recently became law.”The HOPE VI program developed as a result of recommendations made by National Commission on Severely Distressed Public Housing, charged with proposing a National Action Plan to eradicate