WASHINGTON, DC - A bill sponsored by Senators Jon Corzine (D-NJ) and Tom Carper (D-DE) to address the growing need for affordable housing for working families is set to pass the Senate as part of the VA-HUD appropriations bill. The Senate Committee on Appropriations reported the bill to the full Senate for a vote before the Senate recesses. Corzine and Carper introduced the "Federal Housing Administration Multifamily Housing Loan Limit Adjustment Act," last week after Census Bureau statistics revealed over 711,000 moderate-income families faced a critical need for rental housing. The bill helps these families by raising the FHA's multi-family loan limits by 25 percent to meet recent increases in land, construction, and other costs and thus creating an incentive for increased production of affordable rental housing. The Democratic lawmakers were pleased to see the Senate act so quickly on their legislation. According to a recent study conducted by the Center for Housing Policy, nearly 14 million families across the nation either lived in substandard housing conditions or spent more than half their monthly income on the cost of housing. In addition, rising construction costs have resulted in a shortage of moderately priced affordable rental units, while rent increases now exceed inflation in all regions of the nation. Last year, Congress voted to provide access to affordable housing by expanding the Low Income Tax Credit program by 40% in 2002 and provide 79,000 incremental housing vouchers to families facing critical housing needs. However, those efforts sought to address the needs of low-income families. The Corzine-Carper legislation is aimed at expanding access to affordable housing for middle-class families. "For too many teachers, nurses and police officers, the struggle to gain access to affordable housing today is insurmountable," said Corzine. "This legislation is designed specifically to help America's middle-class families, who serve as the engine of our nation's economy." By increasing the loan limits, the bill creates incentives for greater investments in urban and high-priced rural areas through public-private partnerships. Potential partnerships include new rental housing for the elderly, the construction of cooperative housing projects, and the renovation of existing rental properties and condominiums. "Middle class families are increasingly stranded by rising rents and housing costs. The Federal Housing Administration has not been able to keep its commitment to help these families with available, affordable housing," Carper said. "Increasing these loan limits is an immediate step towards solving this problem."