HUD Issues Revised ‘Temporary’ Rent Exception Guidelines for People with Disabilities
As part of Notice PIH 2013-03 (HA) issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on January 22, 2013, Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) will again be allowed - as a reasonable accommodation - to approve exception rents for units leased by people with disabilities in the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program of up to 120 percent of the Fair Market Rent (FMR). This policy change is temporary until March 31, 2014 - provided the PHA notifies HUD by e-mail that the PHA is adopting the 120 percent policy.
This is a very positive development for people with disabilities seeking to use a HCV to lease a rental unit in the private market. Fully accessible units and rental units with other special features - such as access to public transportation - sometimes have rents that are higher than units without these features. PHAs are now permitted to grant exception rents up to 120 percent of FMR, when requested by the prospective tenant for a specific unit, provided other HUD requirements are met. Disability advocates should urge their PHAs to adopt these changes immediately.
TAC and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Housing Task Force have advocated with HUD and with Members of Congress for many years to obtain this important change in HCV policy. Prior to 1999, PHAs were permitted to approve exception rents of up to 120 percent. However, for the past 14 years, HUD has required PHAs to obtain HUD written approval for all exception rents above 110 percent of the FMR. This additional step could take days - or even weeks - to complete, and landlords are often unwilling to 'hold' an available apartment until HUD approval can be obtained.
This change was included as one of several temporary guidelines issued by HUD to "facilitate the ability of PHAs to continue…..the delivery of rental assistance to eligible families." Other policy changes that affect people with disabilities published in Notice PIH 2013-03 include:
- An option to allow PHAs to use a household's past income, rather than their projected income, to determine annual income and calculate tenant rent;
- Allowing households to self-certify assets - rather requiring third party verification - if their total assets are less than $5,000;
- Permitting a more streamlined process for the annual reexamination of income by applying the published cost of living adjustment - but only when 100 percent of the household's income is 'fixed' - defined as: SSI and SSDI payments; Federal, State, local, and private pension plans; or other periodic payments from annuities, insurance policies, retirement funds, disability or death benefits, and other similar types of payments that are of substantially the same amounts from year to year.
Adoption of these Temporary Provisions by PHAs is discretionary, and PHA adopting these provisions must notify HUD by e-mail.