What Would HUD’s Proposed Minimum Rent Mandate Mean for Extremely Poor DC Residents?

Researching the impacts of the mandatory minimum rent proposal in the President’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget, I asked myself what it would mean for extremely low-income District residents who benefit from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s rental housing programs.

The answer, I think, is maybe less than for the poorest beneficiaries in most of the country. But it’s hard to be sure because we don’t know how broadly HUD would apply the new policy.

Here’s what we do know.

DCHA (the District’s public housing authority) doesn’t impose a minimum rent, as it could under the current law. It’s chosen — wisely I think — to let the lowest of low-income households conserve their cash for other needs.

These, recall, are households whose adjusted incomes are so low that the usual 30% they’d owe for rent is negligible, except to them.

In one scenario, they’d have to pay $75 a month, as would more than half a million of the poorest households nationwide, though DCHA could grant hardship exemptions for some of them.

But DCHA is one of the 34 public housing authorities that participate in HUD’s Moving to Work demonstration project. As such, it’s exempt from many of the rules most PHAs must comply with.

So it’s possible that DCHA could preserve its current rent policy for most residents who’d otherwise be affected.

According to DCHA’s latest annual report, 12,752 individuals and families had Housing Choice vouchers in its MTW program. It plans to increase the number to 12,784 by the end of this fiscal year.

DCHA says that close to 20,000 additional residents live in public housing units.

If the proposed policy change is like the one in a bill the House is considering — and it does seem that way — then the minimum mandatory rent wouldn’t automatically apply to either the voucher holders or the public housing residents.

Or so I gather from a bill analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

But the minimum mandatory would apply to residents of project-based Section 8 housing, i.e., units that have federally-funded vouchers attached to them.

That, says CBPP, would put 1,273 extremely low-income District households at risk of “serious hardship and even homelessness.”

Do we really need anything more to push up our homelessness rates?

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5 Responses to What Would HUD’s Proposed Minimum Rent Mandate Mean for Extremely Poor DC Residents?

  1. [...] D.C.'s public housing residents probably insulated from HUD changes. [P&P] [...]

  2. lianekay says:

    Hm? I know a DC public housing resident with asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes and five kids who’s expected to live on $328 per month. I don’t think that DC’s public housing residents are insulated from HUD changes.

  3. Kathryn Baer says:

    So far as the minimum rent proposal is concerned, we really don’t know. DCHA could still have the authority to impose no minimum rent—or not. We would need to see the actual legislative language to be sure.

    Your friend certainly could be affected by another policy change the HUD budget proposes. Check back tomorrow for a new post.

  4. lianekay says:

    Thanks. I’m cross-posting this blog at GrassrootsDC.org. Check it out.

  5. sarah says:

    I’m not making it as it is. My rent is going up $105.00 in april. Rent will then be $405.00. A year after that it will go up $35.00 more.
    My car is a 1995 modal, its going to die any day now. I cant get it fixed. I cant pay what I owe for medical bills. In the last year Ive been selling anything of my own of value to pay for groceries. I earn to much for EBT. Ive paid off my student lones, and Ive never had a credit card.

    Dose anyone care about the people on the bottom of the economic chain?

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