Department of Housing and Urban Development News Briefs - October 2017

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued Aug. 11 a letter announcing the suspension of the ZIP code-based small-area fair market rent (FMR) designation for 23 of 24 metropolitan areas scheduled to begin using small-area FMRs in administration of the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program Oct. 1. The letter said the decision was based on interim findings of a HUD demonstration, public comments and requests from public housing agencies for more guidance and technical assistance. The letter also stated small-area designation will be delayed until at least Oct. 1, 2019. The Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas, metro division, which has used small-area FMRs since 2011, is the only designation that remains in effect. Public housing agencies that wish to opt in to the small-area FMR formula can submit a written request to HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing. The letter is available at www.hudresourcecenter.com. 

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HUD announced Aug. 10 that Anna Maria Farías is the new assistant secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. She will work to eliminate housing discrimination, promote economic opportunity and achieve diverse, inclusive communities. Before her appointment as assistant secretary, Farías served in senior roles at HUD including director for HUD’s Center for Faith-based and Community Initiatives, as well as deputy assistant secretary for grant programs in the Office of Community Planning and Development. 

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HUD released its, “Worst Case Housing Needs 2017 Report to Congress” Aug. 9. HUD reported that in 2015, 8.3 million very-low-income, unassisted families paid more than half their monthly income for rent, lived in severely substandard housing, or both. The report found that housing needs cut across all regions of the country and include all racial and ethnic groups, regardless of whether they live in cities, suburbs or rural areas, and that large numbers of worst-case needs were also found across various household types including families with children, senior citizens and persons with disabilities. HUD found that while incomes continued to rise between 2013 and 2015, rents increased nearly as fast. The prevalence of worst case needs during 2015 was 47 percent for Hispanic renters, 45 percent for non-Hispanic white renters, 37 percent for non-Hispanic black renters and 41 percent for others, and the South and West were home to most very low-income renters. In addition, for the first time, HUD reported estimates of worst-case housing needs for select metropolitan areas across the country. Worst-case housing needs are defined as renters with very low incomes (below half the median in their area) who do not receive government housing assistance and who either paid more than half their monthly incomes for rent, lived in severely substandard conditions, or both. The report is available at www.hudresourcecenter.com.

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HUD awarded $5 million to 25 local agencies Aug. 28 to address increases in crime. Funding is provided through HUD’s Capital Fund Emergency Safety and Security program. These grants will support the local housing authorities as they address safety and security emergencies, including sudden increases in violent or property-related crimes within their public housing community. The grants may be used to install, repair or replace capital needs items including, but not limited to, security systems/surveillance cameras, fencing, lighting systems, emergency alarm systems, window bars, deadbolt locks and doors. The agencies are located in 15 states.