Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Minimum Wage Increase Signed into Law - Housing Fund Approved by House

May 29, 2007

Great news on the minimum wage and funding for affordable housing! There has been important progress on two high priority issues. First, after more than ten years the minimum wage increase became law. Second, the House of Representatives moved a bill establishing a fund to build and renovate housing for very low income people. See below for an ALERT that announces these important accomplishments.

Minimum Wage Increase:
On May 25, President Bush signed into law the first increase in minimum wage in over a decade. The Iraq war spending bill included an amendment increasing the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour in three steps over a two year period. The first wage increase of $.70 comes 60 days after enactment, increasing the minimum wage to $5.85 hourly. One year later, the minimum hourly wage will increase to $6.55 per hour and the final increase to $7.25 per hour a year after that (2 years after enactment). Along with the minimum wage increase, the supplemental contains $4.84 billion in tax breaks mostly for small businesses.

H.R. 1427 Passes with an Affordable Housing Fund
Our nation is a bit closer to providing new resources for affordable housing in our communities. H.R. 1427, the Federal Housing Finance Reform Act of 2007, passed the U.S. House of Representatives on May 22 by a vote of 313-104. The bill creates an Affordable Housing Fund of more than $500 million a year. For the first year, the money will go to Louisiana and Mississippi to rebuild rental housing affordable for very low and extremely low income people. After that, the funds will become a dedicated source of revenue for the future National Housing Trust Fund. The amendment (Hensarling #28) that would have had the effect of excluding the Catholic Church and other religious organizations from using the housing trust funds to help low-income families gain the housing they desperately need was withdrawn. Other numerous attempts to eliminate or alter the Affordable Housing Fund were defeated. Note that all of our local Representatives, Anna Eshoo, Mike Honda, Zoe Lofgren, and Gerald McNerney, voted for this bill. It’s now on to the Senate!


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