FARGO — Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., has introduced an affordable housing bill that would create a program named after a former Fargo mayor.
The Choice in Affordable Housing Act would allocate $500 million for the creation of the Herschel Lashkowitz Housing Partnership Fund, which would, according to Cramer, remove barriers in the Housing Choice Voucher program.
“Over the last year, housing uncertainty has reached unprecedented heights for millions of Americans, and there are ways Congress can act to strengthen existing housing programs without undue market interference,” Cramer said in a statement. “The Choice in Affordable Housing Act seeks to increase landlord interest in affordable housing voucher programs by offering incentives and reducing burdensome bureaucratic guidance.”
The program would incentivize landlords to “participate in rental assistance programs and lower affordability hurdles facing potential tenants,” according to a news release from Cramer's office. The bill also would increase funding for the U.S. Tribal Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program and encourage HUD to reform evaluations of public housing agencies to make vouchers available in more neighborhoods.
Cramer named the bill after Lashkowitz, who was born in Fargo in 1918. A Democrat who has been praised as an advocate of affordable housing, Lashkowitz served as mayor for 20 years beginning in 1954. He died Sept. 7, 1993.
The bill has the backing of several housing and anti-poverty advocates.
“We have found time and time again that creating opportunities to partner with landlords is a valuable part of effective strategies for ending homelessness,” said Cody Schuler, executive director of the Fargo-Moorhead Coalition to End Homelessness. “This legislation advances the ability for communities to strengthen and form these critical relationships.”