HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) issued Notice PIH-2012-16 inviting public housing agencies (PHAs) to apply for four available slots in the Moving to Work demonstration program (MTW). The MTW demonstration gives HUD the authority to select 30 PHAs to experiment with exemptions from regulations and with combining funds they receive from the Housing Choice Voucher program and the public housing Capital Fund and Operating Fund (MTW Block Grant).
The statutory purpose of the MTW demonstration is to allow PHAs to test alternative approaches to providing housing assistance that reduce costs, increase housing choices, and provide incentives for residents to participate in job training or education in order to be more economically self-sufficient.
The statute requires PHAs granted MTW demonstration status to:
1. Assure that at least 75% of the families assisted are very low income, having incomes below 50% of area median income (AMI).
2. Maintain a comparable mix of families (by size) and serve substantially the same number of families as would have been assisted if the PHA were not in the MTW demonstration.
3. Have a reasonable rent policy designed to encourage self-sufficiency.
4. Assure housing quality standards.
NLIHC has long been concerned about the MTW demonstration because of the ability of MTW PHAs to impose time limits and work requirements, establish rent policies that cause housing cost burdens, and other actions that increase housing instability for residents.
Appropriations acts for FY10 and FY11 allowed HUD to grant MTW demonstration status to three additional PHAs in each of those fiscal years. One FY10 slot remains unfilled, therefore PIH Notice 2012-16 invites PHAs to apply for the four remaining MTW slots. Congress limited the FY10 and FY11 slots to PHAs that have no more than 5,000 public housing units and vouchers combined, and that are designated High Performing under the Public Housing Assessment System (PHAS).
HUD estimates that more than 1,500 PHAs are eligible to apply. Therefore, HUD is adding two eligibility requirements designed to test HUD policy priorities. New MTW demonstration PHAs must:
1. Conduct a rent reform study assessing alternatives to the tenant rent calculation provisions in the statute.
2. Carry out one of the following options:
a. A housing choice mobility demonstration to test the ability of MTW regulatory flexibility to offer more types of, and locations for, assisted housing in areas where affordable housing choices might be limited.
b. An assessment of quantifiable cost savings and other direct, measurable outcomes, such as the number of additional families served, as a result of block granting the three funding streams that PHAs receive.
Among other requirements, PHA applicants must discuss how the proposed MTW demonstration activities will be carried out in a manner that affirmatively furthers fair housing. Those activities must help to overcome impediments to fair housing choice identified in their city’s or state’s Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice (AI). In addition, the proposed MTW demonstration activities must address at least one of the following:
1. Help overcome any impediments related to vouchers or public housing.
2. Promote racially, ethnically and socioeconomically diverse communities.
3. Promote housing-related opportunities that overcome the effects of past discrimination.
Although not required, HUD encourages applications from PHAs that participate in regional fair housing strategies.
Notice PIH-2012-16 is available at: http://nlihc.org/doc/MTW_Notice_PIH2012-16.pdf