Forty-four public housing agencies (PHAs) submitted letters indicating their interest in participating in the Moving to Work (MTW) so-called “rent reform” Cohort #2. Another 52 PHAs submitted letters of interest in participating in the “MTW flexibility” Cohort #1. HUD will now review the applications for eligibility, ask PHAs to submit full applications, and ultimately select participants. HUD indicated that 10 PHAs will be selected for Cohort #2 while 30 PHAs (including a control group and a waitlist group) will be selected for Cohort #1. To date, HUD has not invited PHAs to indicate interest in Cohort #3 “work requirements” or Cohort #4 “landlord incentives.”
The “Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016” authorized HUD to expand the MTW Demonstration Program to an additional 100 high performing PHAs over a seven-year period. PHAs will be added to the MTW demonstration in groups – cohorts – each of which will be overseen by a research advisory committee to ensure the demonstrations are evaluated with rigorous research protocols. Each cohort of MTW sites will be directed by HUD to test one specific policy change.
Notice PIH-2019-04 invited PHAs to participate in Cohort #2 to test “rent reform” ideas designed to “increase resident self-sufficiency and reduce PHA administrative burdens” (see Memo, 3/18). Only PHAs with a combination of at least 1,000 non-elderly and non-disabled public housing residents and voucher households are eligible. Each PHA will implement one alternative rent policy:
- Income-based tiered rents
- 5% stepped rents not tied to income
- 3% stepped rents not tied to income (a shallow subsidy option)
- An alternative tiered or stepped rent proposed by a PHA
See Memo, 3/18 for more about how these rent policies would work.
It is not obvious that requiring residents to pay more rent or causing them to lose their HUD assistance (especially in high-rent markets) will increase resident self-sufficiency. Augmented funding for the Family Self-Sufficiency and the Jobs Plus programs, rigorous implementation of Section 3 obligations, as well as better coordination with educational institutions, assistance with child care, and access to affordable transportation are more likely to result in enhanced self-sufficiency.
Notice PIH-2018-17 invited PHAs to apply for a slot in Cohort #1, “MTW flexibilities.” Only smaller PHAs are eligible, those with a combination of 1,000 or fewer public housing units and vouchers. Cohort #1 will evaluate the overall effects of MTW flexibility on the PHA and its residents. It is not entirely clear what, specifically, “MTW flexibilities” will entail. Applicants are to “describe what types of initiatives the PHA seeks to implement…and why. It is not necessary that the PHA put forth discreet activities, but should rather discuss how the PHA seeks to utilize MTW flexibility to address local needs.” A final MTW Operations Notice will indicate which MTW waivers and associated activities will be available.
HUD will compare outcomes related to the MTW statutory objectives between the MTW PHAs and PHAs assigned to a control group. The MTW statutory objectives are to reduce costs, give households incentives to achieve economic self-sufficiency, and to increase housing choice. Cohort #1 applicants will be assigned by lottery to be MTW PHAs, waitlist PHAs, or control group PHAs. For more about Cohort #1 see Memo, 10/22/18 (due to a transfer error when NLIHC changed web platforms the article is dated February 25, 2019).
The final MTW Operations Notice that will govern all four cohorts has not been published (see Memo 10/9/18 and 10/15/18 – again with the misleading February 25, 2019 date). NLIHC’s critique of the proposed revised Operations Notice is at: https://bit.ly/30nRaQe
The list of PHAs that submitted Cohort #2 letters of interest is at: https://bit.ly/2NEBir0
The list of PHAs that submitted Cohort #1 letters of interest is at: https://bit.ly/2G0FYRO
HUD’s MTW webpage is at: https://bit.ly/2AjmYvp