The Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) sent a letter to all public housing agency (PHA) executive directors on May 22, reminding them that households with “enhanced vouchers” have a “right to remain” in their homes.
Enhanced Vouchers (EVs) are provided to residents of properties with private, project-based assistance when an “eligibility event” takes place at the property. The most typical eligibility event occurs when a project-based Section 8 contract expires and the owner decides not to renew the contract, that is, the owner “opt outs.” Prepayment of certain unrestricted HUD-insured mortgages (generally Section 236 and Section 221(d)(3) projects) is another type of eligibility event.
There are two key features that make EVs enhanced:
- A household receiving an EV has the right to remain in its previously-assisted home, and the owner must accept the EV. Instead of accepting an EV, a household may move right away with a regular Housing Choice Voucher (HCV). A household accepting an EV may choose to move later, but then its EV converts to a regular HCV.
- An EV will pay the owner the difference between a tenant’s required contribution toward rent and the new market-based rent charged by the owner after the housing conversion action, even if that new rent is greater than the PHA’s basic voucher payment standard. A PHA’s regular voucher payment standard is between 90% and 110% of the Fair Market Rent (FMR). In most cases a household will continue to pay 30% of its income toward rent and utilities. However, households must continue to pay toward rent at least the same amount they were paying for rent on the date of the housing conversion action, even if it is more than 30% of their income.
The PIH letter states, “The purpose of this special payment standard is to allow the family to remain in the property after the eligibility event.”
The letter concludes, “Concerns have been raised to HUD that some families and owners may not be fully aware of the enhanced voucher “right to remain” in accordance with the Act, particularly after the initial year of assistance. When conducting the oral briefing with tenants and/or owners regarding the use of enhanced vouchers, it is important to emphasize to both parties that families have the “right to remain” pursuant to section 8(t) the Act, and that this ‘right to remain’ extends beyond the initial year of assistance.”
The National Alliance of HUD Tenants (NAHT) have been pressing for such a letter for several years, because its members have been threatened with eviction by owners who fail to recognize the statutory right to remain. NAHT awaits similar instruction from HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing Programs.
Read the PIH letter at: http://1.usa.gov/1kbHVFs
More information about enhanced vouchers is on page 167 of NLIHC’s 2014 Advocates’ Guide: http://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/2014AG-167.pdf