HUD Proposes Enhanced Voucher Rules
HUD recently released a proposed rule that would amend HUD’s regulations governing its Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program to revise its “enhanced vouchers” policy. The program allows private owners to rent apartments and homes at or below fair market prices to qualified low-income tenants, with a rental subsidy administered by the local housing authority. “Enhanced vouchers” are special vouchers available to provide continued support for a family living in a privately owned project-based rental assistance home that no longer receives HUD subsidies, such as when a project-based Section 8 contract expires and the owner decides to opt out of the contract. Enhanced vouchers have two special features that make them “enhanced”:
Right to remain. A household receiving an enhanced voucher has the right to remain in their previously assisted home, and the owner must accept the enhanced voucher as long as the apartment continues to be used by the owner as a rental property and has a rent that is comparable to unassisted units in the development or in the private market.
Higher voucher payment standard. An enhanced voucher pays the difference between the gross rent charged to a tenant and the new market-based rent charged by the owner after the housing conversion action, even if that new rent is greater than the public housing agency’s basic voucher payment standard. In most cases a household continues to pay 30 percent of their income for rent and utilities. However, if a household has been paying more than 30 percent, then the household must continue to contribute toward rent an amount at least equal to the amount the household was paying at the time of the eligibility event.
HUD states that the proposed rule would not make significant changes to its existing treatment of enhanced vouchers. The public can comment on all aspects of the proposed rule; however, HUD requests comments regarding three particular issues:
- The determination of “low-vacancy areas” in which income eligibility is expanded in certain cases;
- Whether the PHA can conduct screening of the voucher recipients; and
- Whether an enhanced voucher tenant’s “right to remain” should be subject to termination under regular voucher rules.
Comments are due by Dec. 27. Interested persons may submit comments electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov.