NLIHC submitted comments regarding proposed changes to the Project-Based Voucher rule implementing provisions of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA) (see Memo, 5/18 and 7/6). The comments emphasized six issues also raised in another letter signed by 21 organizations, including NLIHC.
NLIHC’s comments highlight three problematic provisions:
- The proposal to limit to 30 years the maximum possible period for which a unit can be under a voucher contract is contrary to the statute, which permits a potentially unlimited number of 15-year contract extensions.
- Text allowing an owner to terminate a lease without “good cause,” even though the preamble to the proposed rule states an intent to provide tenants with a reliable long-term lease unless an owner has a “good cause” to terminate or not renew a lease.
- Requiring owners to provide tenants with a one-year notice of an intent not to renew a voucher contract is good, but could be improved by requiring the notice to be in writing and by requiring owners to accept any replacement tenant-based assistance after a contract is terminated.
NLIHC also writes about three issues not in the proposed rule that warrant attention in the final rule:
- Tenants in public housing or project-based Section 8 developments converting to voucher assistance should not be rescreened by public housing agencies (PHAs) or private owners.
- Families occupying a unit allowed to exceed the 25% limit on the number of voucher units in a development because their unit requires occupants to comply with a supportive services agreement should not be forced to leave even if they fail to complete a supportive services requirement without good cause. There is no statutory language or legislative history justifying this rule. The provision also runs counter to the principle that participation in services tied to housing should be voluntary, as articulated in a HUD policy notice pertaining to public housing. The provision effectively creates a work requirement.
- Language should be added to the current rule pertaining to voucher units occupied by a household too small or too large for the unit, or that does not need a unit’s accessibility features. The current rule states that a PHA must require the household to move and terminate its voucher payment, but with continued housing assistance. NLIHC suggested language stating that an appropriate unit must be offered in the same building or development, if available. If one is not available, another form of project-based assistance should be offered. However, a PHA should always offer both tenant-based voucher assistance and project-based assistance in order to allow a household to choose.