Community options are limited for individuals seeking a place to live using housing vouchers, but the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development hopes to make the process easier.

  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development proposal is up for public comment for 60 days after its release on June 15.
  • Housing Choice Voucher program would be under a new formula to calculate rent subsidies by ZIP code instead of entire metropolitan areas.
  • The proposal is said to help improve the ability for housing voucher families to live in areas of high opportunity and decrease the number of those in low poverty neighborhoods.

Community options are limited for individuals seeking a place to live using housing vouchers, but the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development hopes to make the process easier.

On June 15, HUD released a propsal to the public to change the geography used to calculate the Fair Market Rents (FMRs).

Instead of measuring by city-wide rent rates, the proposal suggests breaking the formula down by neighborhood in metro areas that have strongly diverse rental prices. Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) families in certain metropolitan areas would be able to recieve a subsidy that would sustain rent in areas of more opportunity.

Public comment is open for 60 days since its release.

According to the proposal, the current formula “has not proven effective in addressing the problem of concentrated poverty and economic and racial segregation in neighborhoods.”

Areas to be covered by the new proposal include the Chicago metro, Washington D.C., New York City, San Antonio, Oakland, San Jose and Fort Lauderdale. All cities and metros included are listed below:

1.      Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA
2.      Bergen-Passaic, NJ
3.      Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SC
4.      Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL
5.      Colorado Springs, CO
6.      Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX
7.      Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach, FL
8.      Fort Worth-Arlington, TX
9.      Gary, IN
10.   Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT
11.   Jackson, MS
12.   Jacksonville, FL
13.   Monmouth-Ocean, NJ
14.   Nassau County-Suffolk County, NY
15.   New York, NY
16.   North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota, FL
17.   Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley, CA
18.   Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA
19.   Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL
20.   Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD
21.   Pittsburgh, PA
22.   Sacramento–Arden-Arcade–Roseville, CA
23.   San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX
24.   San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA
25.   San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
26.   Tacoma-Lakewood, WA
27.   Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL
28.   Honolulu, HI
29.   Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC
30.   Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD
31.   West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Delray Beach, FL

The proposal suggests determining rents on the basis of ZIP codes instead of the entire metropolitan region.

“In some areas of the country, the Housing Choice Voucher Program offers little choice to families about where they can live, limiting opportunities for themselves and their children,” HUD Secretary Julián Castro said in a statement. “We propose to use a tested new approach that would offer these households greater choice to move into higher opportunity neighborhoods with better housing, better schools and higher paying jobs.”

The Housing Choice Voucher program assists 2.2 million households throughout the nation who contribute 30 percent of their monthly income to rent in addition to the subsidy. To help these individuals have access to higher opportunity neighborhoods, HUD raised its rent standard in 2000 from the 40th percentile of all rents to the 50th percentile in neighborhoods with larger populations of voucher families.

The proposal also includes a phase-out of the 50th percentile over the next three years. In the reported metros, which are subject to change by implementation, payment standards will be higher in low-poverty/high-rent areas and lower in high-poverty/low-rent areas.

Email Kimberly Manning

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