What’s a fixed income? Well, it’s pretty safe to say that this bill’s writers aren’t talking about investment banking. In most contexts, “fixed income” is preceded by “senior citizen living on a”—they’re talking about people whose only income is what they get from social security or a pension. But this bill refers to families with fixed incomes, and sponsoring Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s (D-CO) press release refers to “low-income families.” Thus, in this context, the “fixed” in “fixed income” appears to mean people with an income that is limited and probably won’t change.
This bill amends the Housing Act of 1937, which created the United States Housing Authority. Under its well-known Section 8, it provides low-income individuals with vouchers to pay rent. It finds sponsor, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), working with two Republicans, Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Rep. Frank C. Guinta (R-NH).
While, in practice, it’s boring accounting work, verifying a public housing recipient’s income is a highly politicized act. According to the Washington Examiner, lax income verification practices have allowed some people to live high on the hog, buying sports cars and satellite dishes, while receiving housing vouchers. “Local authorities who are supposed to verify income and stop fraud often aren't interested making sure taxpayer money is spent properly,” alleges the writer.
Of course, some of this could be pinned as extreme examples that aren't indicative of the population of people that benefit from government housing programs — turning everyone into Ronald Reagan's “welfare queen.” And while she was a real person, the fear of welfare queens is considered by many to be largely misplaced. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, families receiving public food assistance spend much less than families that don’t. Because, y’know, they don’t have a lot of money. A lot of eligible low income individuals don’t even receive benefits.
Sponsoring Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) Press Release (Previous Bill Version)
Assisted Housing Insider
The Atlantic (Context)