- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 19, 2002

People who get federal help to pay for housing should be required to work, and rules that discourage them from marrying and pursuing higher-paying jobs should be changed, a commission created by Congress will recommend.
The proposals, which would extend the basic philosophy behind the welfare overhaul in 1996 to housing, are among the ideas laid out in the bipartisan Millennial Housing Commission's final report that will soon go to Capitol Hill. The Associated Press obtained the executive summary of the 150-page report.
The report urges lawmakers to devote significant federal money and more attention to the worsening housing shortage.
"The nation faces a widening gap between the demand for affordable housing and the supply of it," the report says. "It is time for America to put quality-of-life issues on a par with cost considerations and make housing programs work to improve communities and individual lives."
Lawmakers created the 21-member commission in 1999 to guide them on changes in housing policy. Led by former Republican Rep. Susan Molinari and New York developer Richard Ravitch, the panel includes representatives from a broad range of ideological viewpoints.
There has been renewed interest in housing in the past year. That is in part because of growing evidence that housing problems affect not just the poorest families, but many middle-income Americans as well.
At a meeting this week in Washington, the National Conference of Mayors plans to develop recommendations for Congress on housing policy.
While some in Congress are pushing housing-related measures, none of the plans is as comprehensive as many in the housing industry and advocacy community and now the commission insist is necessary.
"Hopefully there will be a housing bill next year that will be based in large part on what the commission is saying," said Cheryl Malloy, a senior vice president of the Mortgage Bankers Association. Without commenting in detail, Miss Malloy said she was pleased the commission was suggesting many changes her group has promoted.
Federal housing officials and others declined to comment on the report until its official release

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