Secretary Carson Proposes Rent Reform

HUD Secretary Ben Carson recently unveiled a package of reforms designed to offer public housing authorities, property owners, and HUD-assisted families a simpler and more transparent set of rent structures. Through its Making Affordable Housing Work Act, HUD is seeking to reform decades-old rent policies.

In a statement, Secretary Carson said, "The system we currently use to calculate a family's rental assistance is broken and holds back the very people we're supposed to be helping. HUD-assisted households are now required to surrender a long list of personal information, and any new income they earn is ‘taxed' every year in the form of a rent increase. Today, we begin a necessary conversation about how we can provide meaningful, dignified assistance to those we serve without hurting them at the same time."

Currently, Congress requires HUD-assisted households to contribute 30 percent of their adjusted income toward rent while the government pays the difference, up to a maximum amount. According to the press release, this approach, with its complicated set of income certification requirements, imposes substantial administrative burdens on PHAs and owners and may suppress residents' earned income.

HUD is proposing a simplified structure of 'core rents' that offers a more transparent and predictable rent calculation that streamlines program administration for PHAs and owners and is easier for both landlords and tenants to understand. Under this core rent proposal, PHAs and owners would only be required to verify income every three years rather than annually. HUD also intends to create a menu of “choice rents” that PHAs and owners may implement to promote greater flexibility, local control, and self-sufficiency for non-elderly/non-disabled households.