When the administration published its FY 2019 proposed budget, HUD did not publish all of the accompanying congressional justification documents. Congressional justifications help the administration justify the rationale for the budgetary decisions that were made when preparing the proposed budget. This year, the congressional justifications also included a document titled “Enhance Rental Assistance,” which was published after the budget. While the budget itself does not include legislative language on either rent reform or the future of public housing, this document provides additional information on what HUD intends to create when it introduces its legislative proposal.

Rent Reform

HUD reviewed its rental assistance programs, which serve over 4.7 million people, and found that each HUD-assisted household may contribute up to 30 percent of its adjusted income to rent, while HUD subsidizes the rest up until a maximum. HUD believes that this structure “creates disincentives to employment and stable family formation, imposes large administrative burden, generates significant costs to the Federal government, and represents a one-size-fits-all approach that does not take into account local community need.”

HUD would like to work toward five goals: 1) encouraging work and stable family formation; 2) simplifying program administration; 3) increasing local control and choice; 4) fiscal sustainability; and 5) protecting current elderly and disabled households from adverse impacts.

To reach these goals, HUD will introduce legislation that will do the following: 1) establish or increase mandatory minimum rents; 2) simplify rent calculations and increase tenant contributions; 3) prevent rent increases for vulnerable elderly and disabled tenants; 4) limit income recertifications for all households to once every three years; 5) provide a hardship exemption for tenants; and 6) give PHAs and property owners the option to choose alternative rent structures with the option to implement minimum work requirements.

Future of Public Housing

HUD’s congressional justifications also have proposals for the future of public housing. The president’s budget expands the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program by requesting a $100 million for additional conversions and removing the cap on the number of projects which can participate in the program. Additionally, the budget tries to utilize other methods to “strategically reduce the footprint of Public Housing.” These methods include funding to facilitate in obsolete public housing demolition; allowing PHAs, under certain conditions, to retain public housing property free from public housing use restrictions; permitting small PHAs to utilize a streamlined Voluntary Conversion process to retain the public housing property while providing housing choice vouchers for existing residents; streamlining the Section 18 Demolition and Disposition process; and expanding RAD.

As NAHRO learns more about the administration’s legislative proposals, we will keep our members informed.

The congressional justifications for the FY 2019 proposed president’s budget can be found here.


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