Rep. Landsman Introduces Bill Allowing Section 8 Vouchers for Eligible College Students

The bill is geared towards emancipated youth and those who have been in the foster care system.

Jul 8, 2024 at 4:42 pm
1MPACT House is a living-learning center in University of Cincinnati's Gen-1 Program, which is geared towards students who are the first in their family to attend college.
1MPACT House is a living-learning center in University of Cincinnati's Gen-1 Program, which is geared towards students who are the first in their family to attend college. Photo: Lydia Schembre

Some current and prospective college students may qualify for free on and off-campus housing for the first time in nearly 20 years.

Congressman Greg Landsman, who represents Ohio's first district in the U.S. House, held a press conference on July 8 announcing the Campus Housing Affordability Act. The legislation would allow emancipated youth and current and former foster care youth to use the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Housing Choice Voucher Program, known as Section 8, to pay for housing while in college.

Congress changed HUD's rules in 2005 to restrict most eligible college students from using Section 8 vouchers for on and off-campus housing. Landsman said he's wanted to see this rectified for years.

"You have these gifted, talented, amazing young people, and to sideline them because they can't afford the [college pathway] is wrong," Landsman said. "It does not fix the larger issue of college affordability, but it does make a big difference."

The legislation has been endorsed by the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare, National Foster Youth Institute and the Foster Care Alumni of America. Co-sponsors on the bill include Congressman Mike Lawler (R-NY-17), Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (D-OH-03), and Congressman Don Bacon (R-NE-02).
click to enlarge Rep. Greg Landsman announces the Campus Housing Affordability Act outside on University of Cincinnati's campus on July 8, 2024. - Photo: Madeline Fening
Photo: Madeline Fening
Rep. Greg Landsman announces the Campus Housing Affordability Act outside on University of Cincinnati's campus on July 8, 2024.

"Two Republicans, two Democrats, bipartisan bill, and the goal is to get it marked up in Financial Services and onto the floor," Landsman said. "We do believe it will pass. It does not add a single dollar to the budget. It simply uses existing resources, the HUD voucher, and says you have the option to do it here."

The specifics

Landsman told reporters that eligible students who use the voucher will not get dinged on their overall financial aid, scholarships or other forms of assistance.

"It won't hurt their financial assistance eligibility at all, meaning that it doesn't count against their financial assistance," he said. "We don't want to provide housing support and then have them lose other supports. We want them to be able to have all of the supports so that they do well and graduate and become a big part of our our community and our economy. This is in every community's best interest."

The bill applies to both public and private colleges, Landsman said. It's unclear if the legislation would require universities to accept the vouchers made available through HUD, but Landsman said universities have been overwhelmingly supportive.

"There could be some pushback, but most of the colleges, university folks we've talked to are incredibly supportive. They didn't appreciate when it was taken away from them, and they'd like it back," he said.

Eligible students would have the option to use vouchers for on or off-campus housing. Neville Pinto, president of the University of Cincinnati, told reporters the idea of the bill is to focus on the student's individual needs.

"The idea is that we have focused on the student, not so much the housing," Pinto said. "If the student needs it, we've got to build a financial package around the student, in a way where they live is regardless of the situation."

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