Thursday, December 17, 2015

Your Take? Could Increasing Moving to Work Tenant Rents Move Us Away from the 30% of Income for Rent Standard?

HUD subsidized renter tenants are beginning to show more variation in their cost for rental housing. Here's my take on the current hierarchy from lowest to potential highest tenant share of income for rent. 

The VASH program can increase the allowable rent beyond the normal voucher payment standard, potentially increasing the per-unit subsidy cost without increasing tenant share of income for rent. My prior post HERE about San Francisco adoption of a higher payment standard provide some examples; I continue to question whether the higher per unit subsidy for VASH will serve as a model for other populations served by the voucher program. The incremental numbers of vouchers added by VASH may be a key benefit of this program. 

Up until now project based section 8 like rental assistance including the 811 and 202 programs continue to provide that the tenant rent will be 30% of income. Preservation of these project based subsidy programs/projects therefore should be a priority.

Non MTW voucher programs restrict the ability of tenant rents above 40% of income at initial occupancy but rent burdens can climb above 40%, especially if tenants are overhoused. 

Candidly, I have not tracked rent policies in the non MTW public housing world; it may be that flat rents provide a mixture of affordability for tenants. 

With HUD approval Moving to work agencies can adopt rent reforms that increase the share of incomes spent for rent by voucher and public tenants. On the plus side this could allow PHA's to serve more tenants and/or to divert some of the moving work voucher funding to other locally developed rental assistance programs, providing more local "flexibility". See my prior post HERE with information about voucher shelter rent burdens at MTW agency Home Forward for example. 

With the possible national expansion of the Moving to Work program local MTW rent reform rents could effectively result in less generous housing subsidy for tenants served by those Moving to Work agencies (and an increase of tenant income spent on rent). As MTW agencies multiply the long term danger is that the long established 30% of income for rent could be discarded as a standard for HUD rental assistance programs. [And if MTW funding is seen as a block grant, recent history has demonstrated that block grants [HOME] can be subject to decreases in funding].

Originally created and posted on the Oregon Housing Blog.

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