Wicker Fights to Protect Taxpayers in Federal Housing Bill

Senator’s Efforts Could Deliver Additional Housing Funds to Rural Mississippi

WASHINGTON, D.C. – August 2, 2013 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) is spearheading efforts to guarantee federal housing funding is going to the most vulnerable Americans while calling for new accountability and transparency grant standards to ensure the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars. To achieve those goals, Wicker offered two amendments to the “Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act,” S. 1243.

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“My amendments would direct additional ‘HOME Investment Partnerships Program’ funds to housing projects in counties with the highest poverty rates,” Wicker said. “There are several counties in Mississippi, particularly in the Delta, where affordable housing makes a big difference in people’s lives. Every effort should be made to maximize federal grant dollars and help our communities in the greatest need.”

Wicker Amendment #1810 states that if a nonprofit organization entrusted with housing grants fails to meet three nonprofit accountability standards, then it must forego accepting federal housing funds for one year. The extra funds would be redirected to rural areas for rehabilitating substandard housing in which children reside.

“My amendments send an important message to nonprofit organizations that apply for and receive federal housing funds: Congress is watching what you do with taxpayer dollars, and we demand exemplary results of those to whom much is given. Federal housing grants should assist Americans who need them the most. We must ensure these grants are entrusted to the most efficient and effective nonprofit organizations.”

A nonprofit would lose federal housing grant dollars for the following reasons:

If the organization pays one or more of its officers at least 25 percent more than the maximum basic rate of pay received by members of our Senior Executive Service (or about $225,000 or more annually);
Keeps an average of more than 12 percent of its federal housing grants for its own grant administration expenses, including salaries; and,
Receives an audit finding of “material weakness” or “serious deficiency.”

Wicker’s second amendment to S. 1243, Amendment #1805, would impose the same standards on nonprofit housing grant recipients that were outlined in the Senate-passed version of the “Violence Against Women Act.” It includes the requirement that 10 percent of grant recipients be audited by the Inspector General for compliance; ending grants for nonprofits that hold money in offshore accounts; and mandating that nonprofits disclose the studies used to determine their executives’ compensations.

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