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RELEASE: Local, State Electeds & Section 8 Residents Call on HUD to Exclude NYC from Proposed Rule that Could Increase Rents

LOCAL, STATE ELECTEDS & SECTION 8 RESIDENTS CALL ON HUD TO EXCLUDE NYC FROM PROPOSED RULE THAT COULD INCREASE RENTS

HUD’s Proposed Rule on Small Area Fair Market Rents Could Raise Rents Up to $403/Month for More than 55,000 Households

NYC - Council Member Ritchie Torres, joined by local and state elected officials and Section 8 voucher holders, today addressed the US Department of Housing & Urban Development’s recent proposed rule that could increase rents as high as $403/month for more than 55,000 Section 8 households in New York City. The electeds called on HUD to exempt NYC and other low-vacancy cities from the proposed rule which could have devastating consequences for low-income tenants. Council Member Torres also announced a new resolution that was introduced calling on HUD exempt NYC.

HUD’s proposed rule on Small Area Fair Market Rents (SAFMR) seeks to increase fair housing and mobility opportunities for Section 8 voucher holders living in high poverty areas to move to higher opportunity, lower poverty locations. While well-intentioned, this can have unintended consequences for NYC which has a housing crisis and low-vacancy rate of 3.45%.

“HUD’s proposed rule is well-intentioned and could have benefits in other cities, but in NYC it simply won’t work. Voucher holders living in low-income areas should not be penalized with a higher rent burden if they can’t move to a high-income area with expensive rents. HUD should exempt NYC and other cities experiencing a housing crisis and low-vacancy rates from the proposed rule on SAFMR,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres, Chair of the Council’s Committee on Public Housing.

"We strongly support HUD's goal of offering families greater mobility and opportunity in more economically diverse neighborhoods, but we don't believe that the changes they're proposing for the Section 8 program will accomplish this in New York City," said New York State Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, who co-authored a letter to HUD signed by 53 State and City officials. "Because of New York City's low vacancy rates and high rents, it is likely that many people would be displaced under the new rules from lower-rent neighborhoods but would not be able to find apartments in higher-rent neighborhoods. This would be a very unfortunate result; HUD should exempt New York City from the current proposal and work with us to find a way to achieve their proposal's good intentions in our particularly challenging housing market."

HUD’s proposed rule on SAFMR could have a devastating impact on localities with high-costs and low-vacancy rates like NYC, and could increase tenants’ rent burden:

  • 55,000 Section 8 households would have to pay more in rent.
  • Some households’ average rent would increase as high as $403/month with rent burdens up to 69%.
  • 52% of impacted households include a person who is elderly or disabled.

Voucher holders would not be able to rent housing in neighborhoods of lower poverty or “higher opportunity” because the voucher payments would be lower than the market rents. Due to NYC’s low vacancy rate (3.45%), voucher holders would struggle to find housing in zip codes where the Fair Market Rent and subsidy would increase under the proposed rule. The proposed rule would instead exacerbate the current housing crisis by increasing the rent burden and put 55,000 voucher holders at risk of losing their vouchers, eviction and homelessness.

HUD should consider the following recommendations for its rule on SAFMR:

  • Exempt  low-vacancy cities like NYC from the SAFMR requirement.
  • Revise its rent-setting formula to account for rapidly rising rents in gentrifying neighborhoods.
  • Exempt future project-based vouchers from SAFMRs to ensure they remain a tool for preservation and affordability in neighborhoods.
  • Support models other than SAFMRs that consider local needs and local rental markets in achieving housing mobility goals.

“New Yorkers struggling to pay the rent need more support, and Section 8 must continue to provide needed relief to keep New Yorkers in their homes,” said State Senator Daniel Squadron. “HUD's SAFMR changes would have severe impacts on communities across New York City and my district. It's critical that HUD revise this proposal to take into account New York’s unique needs as it works to achieve important goals. Thank you to Assemblymember Kavanagh, Councilmember Torres, my colleagues, and the NYC Alliance to Preserve Public Housing.”

 

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