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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Community Service Requirement for Residents of Public Housing

Maggie McCarty
Specialist in Housing Policy

The Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998 (P.L. 105-276) included provisions designed to promote employment and self-sufficiency among residents of assisted housing, including a mandatory work or community service requirement for residents of public housing. Non-elderly, non-disabled, non-working residents of public housing are required to participate in eight hours per month of either community service or economic self-sufficiency activities in order to maintain their eligibility for public housing. This provision was briefly implemented in FY2001; however, an act of Congress suspended enforcement of the provision in FY2002. That suspension ended in 2003 and residents of public housing are once again required to comply with the community service requirement.

Supporters of the provision believe that it is consistent with the goals of welfare reform and that it will promote civic engagement and “giving back” among residents of public housing; detractors argue that it is punitive, unfair, and administratively burdensome. Legislation was introduced in the 107
th, 108th, 109th , 110th , and 111th Congresses to repeal the requirement, although no bills were enacted. In the 111th Congress, a floor amendment was approved during House floor consideration of the FY2010 HUD appropriations bill (H.R. 3288) that would have prohibited PHAs from using the funding provided in the bill to implement the community service requirement. A contradictory provision supporting the existing requirement was adopted during floor consideration of the Senate version of the bill. The final FY2010 HUD funding law included no changes to the requirement.

This fact sheet describes the provision and its history.

Date of Report: January 5, 2011
Number of Pages: 7
Order Number: RS21591
Price: $19.95

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