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Ernst Works to Keep Iowa Resources in Iowa

The legislation would protect resources for Iowa low-income families from being handed out to major cities like Chicago, Ill.

RED OAK, Iowa – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) is renewing her effort to ensure resources for Iowans stay in Iowa through the Rural Housing Accessibility Act. The legislation would protect support for Iowa low-income families from being handed out to major cities like Chicago, Ill., through voucher portability in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program. Rep. Randy Feenstra (R-Iowa) is leading the effort in the House.

“When working to address some of the housing challenges in our state, Iowans come first. Too often support intended for families in Iowa’s rural communities is being abused by a loophole in the system that allows folks to move out-of-state while Iowans foot their housing costs,” said Ernst. “Resources for Iowa should go to Iowans. It’s just that simple.”

“Iowa’s affordable housing resources must only support Iowans — period. It’s wrong for anyone to take advantage of Iowa taxpayers and use Section 8 housing vouchers to move to poorly managed and high-tax states,” said Rep. Feenstra. “I’m proud to work with Senator Ernst to ensure that low-income families in Iowa — who are already struggling from record inflation — can keep a roof over their heads. We will not tolerate any attempt to defraud Iowa taxpayers and our families.”

Some applicants for assistance from urban areas with long wait lists are moving to Iowa and other rural states to receive Section 8 housing vouchers where the wait lists are shorter. These individuals often leave after one year to return back to the community where they previously lived, while the Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) in Iowa continue to cover the cost of the transferred vouchers, effectually taking aid away from the Iowans it was intended for. The bill would require receiving PHAs with available funding to financially absorb transferred vouchers.

In Iowa in 2020, 12 PHAs found they lost 1,798 vouchers totaling $1,249,270 in a year due to Section 8 portability, according to the Iowa City Housing Authority.


The legislation would also limit billing to initial housing agencies to a maximum of 12 months. Without imposing any new restrictions on portability for voucher recipients, this bill would protect resources intended for rural communities and help address some of the housing challenges facing rural America.