HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing Programs sent a memorandum to all owners of HUD-assisted multifamily housing on June 5, reminding them that households with “enhanced vouchers” have a “right to remain” in their homes. The Office of Public and Indian Housing sent a similar reminder to public housing agencies on May 22 (see Memo, 5/23)
Enhanced Vouchers (EVs) are provided to residents of properties with private, project-based assistance when an “eligibility event” takes place. The most typical eligibility event is when a project-based Section 8 contract expires and the owner decides not to renew the contract, that is, “opts out.” 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 eligibility event (also referred to as “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 memorandum states, “The purpose of this special payment standard is to allow the family to remain in the property after the eligibility event.”
The memorandum 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 the administering PHA conducts 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) of the Act, and that this ‘right to remain’ extends beyond the initial year of assistance.”
The National Alliance of HUD Tenants (NAHT) has pressed for such a memorandum because some of its members have been threatened with eviction by owners who fail to recognize the statutory right to remain.