Tester Urges Biden Administration Officials to Find Solutions to Housing Shortages in Montana at Senate Banking Hearing

Senator on HUD’s housing vouchers: “This program is going to end up leaving rural America behind.”

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today questioned Biden Administration officials from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) during a Senate Banking Committee hearing, urging them to address challenges that housing authorities are facing in Montana.

Tester began by pressing Acting Secretary of HUD Adrianne Todman on the shortage of housing vouchers in rural communities: “[Fair Market Rents] do not reflect the reality of housing costs in communities across our state and they’re not being revised in a timely manner. You’re taking away vouchers from housing authorities with long waiting lists because there simply aren’t any units available to be able to use those vouchers. How your agency is handling this now is not working.”

“Right now these programs are not able to serve the folks in Montana that they are meant for,” Tester continued, calling on HUD to adjust vouchers to fit the needs of rural America: “I think it’s incredibly important that the folks at HUD step up and fix these[Fair Market Rents]. This program is going to end up leaving rural America behind.”

Tester continued to highlight actions by HUD that pulled the rug out from under housing authorities in Montana: “We are told on the ground in Montana that last year, HUD took $4.5 million in housing choice voucher funds from reserve funds from housing authorities across Montana, and now you’re telling them they’re at risk of a shortfall.”

Tester concluded by pressing Acting Secretary Todman for answers and asking for HUD’s commitment to work with Montanans to solve the issue: “If that’s true, could you tell me what happened? Number one, and number two, if there’s a problem, do you commit to working with our folks in Montana to solve that problem?”

Tester has been Montana’s leading champion for rural housing accessibility. Tester recently introduced the Appraisal Industry Improvement Act – bipartisan legislation that would improve the home appraisal process by bolstering the appraiser workforce. In November, Tester introduced his Preservation and Reinvestment Initiative for Community Enhancement (PRICE) Act – legislation that would revitalize Montana’s affordable housing supply by establishing a manufactured housing community improvement grant program.

In September, Tester introduced his bipartisan Rural Housing Service Reform Act of 2023 – legislation which would improve federal rural housing programs, cut government red tape, and strengthen the supply of affordable housing across Montana.

Earlier this week, Tester questioned housing experts during a Senate Banking Subcommittee hearing, pressing them for solutions to high housing costs and housing shortages in Montana, as well as ways to keep national investors from taking away housing options for hard-working families. Tester also questioned policy experts during a Senate Banking Committee hearing in March on potential solutions to bring down costs and boost the supply of housing in rural communities.


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