Monday, June 20, 2016

2014: SNAP HH's Using Excess Shelter Cost Deduction= 90% of ALL Severe Housing Cost Burdened HH's w Incomes <$50k.

I thought it might be interesting to see how the count of SNAP households with an excess housing cost deduction compared to the total count of households with severe cost burdens.  The data sources for the numerator and denominator and the the results are shown below.

1. The Numerator: All SNAP Hh's Using the Excess Shelter Cost Deduction=16,159 million.

From the SNAP 2014 Characteristics report HERE Table B 4 shows a total of 16.159 million households with the excess shelter deduction. 

2. The Denominator: All Cost Burdened HH's Below $50k Income: 17.988 million

In the 2015 Harvard Joint Center for Housing's State of the Nation's Housing report there is a table ( W-9) in an Excel workbook HERE that shows a breakout of housing cost burdens by income level for 2013, according to the American Community Survey (ACS). [Updated 2014 ACS data should be available later this week in the 2016 SONH report].

The national count of all HH's below $50k with severe cost burdens was 17.988 million. (The count of all HH's with incomes below $30k was 16.123 million). 

For my calculation I will use the higher <$50k count of severe cost burdened households (17.988 million), even though the 2014 average SNAP gross income was much lower at $9,108. 

3. The Result: Total HH's with SNAP excess shelter cost deductions = 90% of the total count of severe cost burdened households with incomes below $50k. 

That percentage would increase to 100.4% if the count of severe cost burdened households below $30k was used: 16.159/16.123=100.4%).

  •  There is no way I know to check to see if the SNAP households using the excess shelter deduction are the same as those HH's reporting severe cost burdens in the ACS surveys. IF they did match, the data indicates that 9 out of 10 severe cost burdened households, or more [both renters and owners] received some indirect help with their high housing costs, through an increase in SNAP benefits.
  • The Harvard data set (which uses ACS data) and the SNAP excessive housing cost burden deductions both rely on self reporting. 
  • SNAP doesn't require verification of housing costs. There is a financial incentive to overstate housing costs as it can lead to increased food stamp benefits. 72% of SNAP households have shelter costs that qualify for the excess housing cost deduction. 
  • Excessive housing cost deductions from income for SNAP are capped for families, but not for elderly and disabled households.The overall US Inflation index used to adjust the excess housing cost deduction limit annually may not adequately capture changes in rents, especially in individual markets. 
  • HUD rental assistance programs serve about 25% of all income eligible renters and rents are verified and capped by fair market rents/payment standards, budget approval processes, operating cost increase limits, and rent reasonableness procedures.
Originally created and posted on the Oregon Housing Blog.

Friday, June 17, 2016

2014 Oregon Estimate: Additional SNAP Benefits From Excess Shelter Cost Income Deductions Were $483 Million--$172 Million More than HUD Section 8 and Public Housing Funding.

In my prior post HERE I estimated that in 2014 nationwide  the additional SNAP benefits resulting from deducting excess shelter costs (50%+) from income were 66% of combined HUD Section 8 and Public Housing funding. ($22.9 billion vs $34.4 billion).

I wondered if there was some variation at the state level with that ratio and it appears there is.

  • I used the CBPP Excel file HERE to extract Section 8 and Public Housing spending by state in 2014.
  • I used the 2014 USDA SNAP summary HERE to do my calculations of the benefit of the income deduction for excess shelter cost expenses (using 30% of the value of the deduction as did CBPP in their 2002 SNAP analysis). 

CAVEAT: IF the use of 30% of excess shelter cost deduction overstates the amount of additional SNAP benefits the SNAP estimates in this post and the proceeding posts would be overstated. (The CBPP 2002 analysis that contains the 30% calculation method is the only document that I could find that attempts to quantify the additional food stamp benefit resulting from the excess shelter cost deduction from income).

My estimates are found in the 2 page PDF file HERE and embedded below. The PDF is a state list sorted by the highest to lowest ratio of the SNAP benefit from the excess shelter cost deduction to total Section 8+Public housing funding.

Observations [see caveat above]:
  • Oregon was 1 of only 10 states where the benefit (additional food stamps) from the excess shelter cost income deduction was more than the spending for Section 8 and Public housing. 3 of the 10 states were in the Northwest (Idaho and Washington).
  • Oregon's 155% ratio of SNAP housing related benefits to Section 8 and Public Housing spending was the 3rd highest in the country and was 2.3 times the national ratio of 66%.
  • Oregon's $483 million SNAP benefit (additional food stamps) from the excess shelter cost income deduction was $172 million /55% more than the spending for Section 8 and Public housing ($311 million).
  • I estimate that Oregon monthly amount per household of spending from Section 8 and Public Housing was $548, substantially higher than the $122 additional monthly housing related Oregon benefit from SNAP. [My spending estimate uses an Oregon S.8 and PH count of 47,344 HH's from the CBPP Oregon fact sheet HERE]; the USDA estimate is that there were 330,000 Oregon SNAP households using the excess shelter cost deduction in 2014].
  • SNAP excess shelter cost deductions are NOT limited to renters.
  • SNAP is an entitlement program and HUD rent subsidy programs are not.

Originally created and posted on the Oregon Housing Blog

Thursday, June 16, 2016

By 2014 the $ Benefit of SNAP Excess Shelter Deductions Grew to 66% of HUD Section 8 and Public Housing Funding, Up from 10% in 2000.

In my prior post I concluded that the dollar value of benefits from the SNAP excess shelter cost deductions from income had grown in 2014 to $22.9 billion, up from $2.2 billion in 2000.

To provide some context I constructed a table below that compares the value of those benefits to the spending for all HUD Section 8 and public housing rent subsidies, using as reference points the earlier CBPP report with 2000 HUD subsidy estimates and a 2015 CBPP published report that includes those HUD outlay costs for 2014 :

  1. From 2000-2014 SNAP benefits from excessive shelter cost income deductions increased by $20.6 billion/924%, while HUD spending for Section 8 and Public Housing increased by $11.9 billion/53%.
  2. In  2000 SNAP benefits from the excess shelter cost income deductions were 10% of HUD Section 8 and Public Housing spending ($2.2 billion vs. $22.5 billion).
  3. in 2014 SNAP benefits from excess shelter cost deductions had grown to 66% of HUD Section 8 and Public Housing spending ($22.9 billion vs $34.4 billion ).

Next: The next post will answer the question: In 2014 did some states get more $ benefit from the SNAP excess shelter expense deduction than they got from combined HUD spending on Section 8 and Public Housing rent subsidy programs?

Originally created and posted on the Oregon Housing Blog.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

My Estimate: Deductions for Excess Shelter Costs Used When Calculating Income Increased Annual SNAP Benefits by $20.6 Billon/ 924% from 2000-2014.

I recently discovered and read a 2002 CBPP analysis, The Food Stamp Shelter DeductionHERE . 

The analysis estimated that in 2000 the excess shelter cost deduction from income used to determine SNAP eligibility and benefit levels provided $2.2 billion annually in benefits ($49 per month) to 3.8 million SNAP recipients with excessive shelter costs (shelter costs that are more than 50% of income). [The "benefit" is in the form of additional food stamps/SNAP that a family receives if their shelter cost exceed 50% of their adjusted income]. 

CBPP's analysis made clear why the additional SNAP benefit for those with excess shelter costs is important: 

"After Section 8 and public housing, the food stamp shelter deduction was the biggest source of federal resources devoted to providing assistance to low income households based on their housing needs. "

To update the 2000 CBPP analysis I found a 2014 SNAP data update HERE .  

Using the CBPP analysis as a guide I then plugged in 2014 counts of SNAP households using the excessive shelter deduction and the amount of their average excessive shelter deduction.  I then calculated the benefit using the CBPP assumption that deducting $100 in excessive shelter costs from income increases the SNAP amount ("the benefit")  by $30).  

The table below shows my calculations of the estimated nationwide benefits of the SNAP excessive shelter income deduction comparing 2014 to 2000. 


  • The number of SNAP households receiving the excessive shelter cost income deduction increased by 12.363 million, 326%.
  • The share of all SNAP households with the excessive shelter deduction increased from 52% in 2000 to 72% IN 2014.
  • The maximum excessive shelter cost deduction increased from $300 in 2000 to $506 in 2014.
  • The per household excessive shelter monthly income deduction for those receiving the deduction increased by $230/141% to $390. I speculate that this may have resulted from higher deduction limits, higher shares of elderly and disabled households whose excessive shelter income deductions are not limited, and increasing numbers of households paying more than 50% of their income for shelter because of declining incomes and/or increasing shelter costs.
  • The benefit amount per household for those receiving the excessive shelter cost income deduction increased by $69, from $49 to $118 per month, $1,415 per year. 
  • The total benefit amount (additional SNAP/food stamps because of the excess shelter deduction) Increased by $20.629 Billion/924%.
  • With SNAP case loads decreasing, it may be that 2014 was near the peak in help provided for households with excess shelter costs.

NEXT: A look at SNAP excessive shelter deductions and benefits comparison to changes in HUD rental assistance outlays for Section 8 and Public Housing from 2000-2014.

Originally created and posted on the Oregon Housing Blog

Monday, June 13, 2016

Lifeline Telephone and Cell Phone Help Provides $9.8 M to Help 77,000 Low Income Oregon Households; Broadband Qualifies In December.

The FCC has adopted a new rule HERE on the eligibility and services that qualify for Lifeline telecommunication related payments for low income families with incomes below 135% of poverty or who participate in specific federal programs like food stamps and HUD Section 8/public housing.  The effective date is December 2016.  Lifeline amounts in Oregon are $9.25 monthly from the federal government and $3.50 from the state. 

I contacted Oregon's very cooperative Lifeline Office and got some information about how many households participate in the state and federal Lifeline programs and did some calculations of the funding levels on a monthly and annual basis.  

The table I created is pasted below:

Some observations and notes:

  1. Total Lifeline participation in Oregon is 77,103 households. $9.8 million in annual funding was provided to help pay land line or cell phone bills for low income households.  
  2. Under the new FCC rules the Lifeline program will also be able to be used for broadband access, but note there is only ONE payment available per household. (Link HERE provides more information about phasing in of new FCC rules).
  3. HUD has a ConnectHome initiative to pilot expansion of broadband access for assisted housing tenants. 
  4. The vast majority of households using Lifeline in Oregon get categorical eligibility through SNAP (the food stamp program)--85%. With many households potentially losing SNAP eligibility and with the Lifeline program requiring annual applications I wonder if there will be a drop off of those Lifeline households who previously used SNAP eligibility to also claim Lifeline benefits. 
  5. There were about 403,000 SNAP households in Oregon in May of 2016 so the % of SNAP households who received Lifeline benefits directly because of SNAP categorical eligibility was about 19%. There appears to be a large number of SNAP households who could claim Lifeline benefits who are not claiming them, either through the categorial SNAP eligibility or by other means. If all SNAP HH's claimed Lifeline benefits in the same mix of federal and state benefits as the existing Lifeline HH's I estimate that the annual Lifeline total $ in Oregon would climb to more than $50 million. 
  6. Less than 1% of households receiving Lifeline benefits claim them through use of categorical Public Housing/Section 8 eligibility. With more than 50,000 Oregon households receiving HUD rental assistance the 78 households claiming eligibility via this route is very, very low-less than 2 out of every 1,000 eligible households. Checking for and applying for Lifeline participation during the initial eligibility determination for public housing/section 8 applicants and at income recertification would seem like a low cost way of insuring that assisted housing tenants are participating in this benefit program. 

Originally created and posted on the Oregon Housing Blog.