The U.S. government’s creation of the Moving to Work (MTW) demonstration program in 1996 unleashed innovation in housing assistance programs for households with low income in diverse communities across the United States. The public housing authorities selected to participate in the MTW program received the flexibility essential to creating localized strategies that most effectively meet their communities’ needs while achieving the program’s statutory objectives: use federal dollars more efficiently; help residents to become more financially self-reliant; and improve housing choices for families with low income.
MTW agencies consistently have implemented successful initiatives in the more than two decades since the demonstration program began. Participating public housing authorities continue to provide the housing assistance needed by the families they serve, while also expanding the opportunities available to these households.
The MTW program allows participating public housing authorities to develop local alternatives to many of the rules that typically apply to federal housing vouchers and public housing programs and allows flexibility in the use of federal funds.
Moving to Work – History
The federal Omnibus Consolidated Rescissions and Appropriations Act of 1996 authorized the creation of the MTW demonstration program, with 30 initial participating public housing authorities. The legislation passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 399 to 25 and the U.S. Senate by a vote of 88 to 11. President Bill Clinton signed it into law on April 26, 1996. This action established a significant tool to provide affordable housing opportunities, combining the flexibility to foster innovation with continuing government oversight from HUD. Public housing authorities must submit their proposed new MTW programs to HUD for approval. By 2015, the MTW program had expanded to include 39 public housing authorities nationwide, 1 percent of the approximately 3,400 public housing authorities in the United States. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 authorized the extension of contracts between HUD and these 39 Signature MTW agencies for 10 more years, through 2028, on the existing terms and conditions without disruptions. The legislation further authorized the expansion of the MTW program to an additional 100 public housing authorities. Much like the original MTW authorizing statute, the legislation passed with strong bipartisan support—in the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 316 to 113, and in the U.S. Senate by a vote of 65 to 33. President Barack Obama signed it into law on December 18, 2015. HUD published the final “Operations Notice for the Expansion of the Moving to Work (MTW) Demonstration Program” in the Federal Register on August 28, 2020. HUD also published a timeline to complete the expansion of the MTW program by 100 additional agencies by spring 2022. The same funding and regulatory flexibilities available for Signature MTW agencies should be provided to these additional agencies. These flexibilities work together to enable Signature MTW agencies to achieve the statutory objectives envisioned and enacted to create the MTW program.
The Greenville Housing Authority (TGHA) was selected in 2021 under Cohort #4, Landlord Incentives. Under this MTW Cohort, TGHA will implement various financial and administrative incentives to attract new landlords and retain current landlords in the HCV Program. An evaluation of alternate rent policies will be conducted by HUD for four years. To effectively evaluate the alternative rent, TGHA must forgo the ability to utilize certain MTW waivers associated with landlord incentives for four years after the Landlord Incentive policies are fully implemented. Moving to Work will enable TGHA to tailor our programs to best meet community needs and to quickly react to changes in the economy and rental market. Our community’s affordable housing crisis demands prompt action and thoughtful policy innovation. As described in the sections below, our MTW status is vital to how TGHA operates as an effective and efficient public agency while serving over 4,100 households.
MTW has three statutory goals:
- Reduce cost and achieve greater cost-effectiveness in federal expenditures.
- Give incentives to families with children where the head of household is working, is seeking work, or is preparing for work by participating in job training, educational programs, or programs that assist people to obtain employment and become economically self-sufficient; and Increase housing choices for low-income families.
- Increase housing choices for low-income families.
For more background on the MTW program, including a list of all housing authorities designated as MTW Demonstration sites, please visit HUD’s website here.