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Proposal Tying Housing Vouchers To Work Moves Forward

Proposal Would Authorize State Housing Authority To Seek Federal Waiver

Wisconsin State Capitol
Mike Steele (CC-BY)

GOP lawmakers have advanced a proposal that would require some able-bodied adults to work in order to get housing vouchers in Wisconsin.

A bill approved by a state Assembly committee Thursday would authorize the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority to seek a federal waiver that would allow the agency to put the work requirements in place.

Rep. Terry Katsma, R-Oostburg, is the bill’s sponsor. He said the proposal will encourage voucher recipients to seek job training and help fill employment vacancies he hears about in his district.

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“In the Assembly district I serve on the east side of the state, companies are desperate for trained and willing workers and employees who will enable their businesses to grow,” Katsma testified before the committee.

The bill doesn’t specify what the employment, training, and or other “self-sufficiency requirements” would be. It would also allow the state housing authority to provide certain employment, training, and self-sufficiency services to voucher recipients.

Some opponents voiced concern those services aren’t required in the legislation.

Rep. Lisa Subeck, D-Madison, said she worries the proposal could “set people up for failure.”

“Why not, instead of simply putting a requirement in place without any resources behind it, why not put the resources in place to connect folks who have vouchers to jobs and job training?” Subeck said.

Wisconsin Republicans have passed work requirements for a variety of other programs in recent years, including food stamps.

The proposal passed an Assembly committee on a party-line vote. It has yet to be scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate.