Opposing HUD’s Dangerous Non-Citizen Rule
On Tuesday, CLPHA submitted public comments strongly opposing HUD’s non-citizen rule which would eliminate mixed-status immigrant families from HUD-assisted housing, including 55,000 children who are either U.S. citizens or otherwise eligible for HUD assistance.
HUD’s proposal, published in the Federal Register on May 10 for a 60-day comment period, would reinterpret Section 214 of the Housing and Community Development Act to disallow anyone who cannot verify their immigration status from living in public housing or living in a market-rate apartment with a federal rental subsidy, even if their child or other family members are eligible for assistance. Under current law, rental assistance to these households is prorated and those ineligible for a subsidy pay their portion of the rent unassisted, often at market rates.
“HUD’s cruel proposal would force mixed-status families to decide between a roof for some, or homelessness for all,” said CLPHA Executive Director Sunia Zaterman in a July 9 press release. “This reversal of long-standing policy is antithetical to the mission of public housing, which is to provide safe, affordable housing to very low-income families.”
Raising Concerns with FMR and SAFMR Methodology
On July 5, CLPHA submitted public comments in response to a recent notice from HUD regarding its proposed changes to methods used to calculate Fair Market Rents (FMRs) and Small Area Fair Market Rents (SAFMRs). The notice followed a 2018 HUD report that described the three components of FMRs – trend factors, inflation factors, and gross rents – and how they may lead to inaccurate FMRs. Focusing exclusively on ways to increase accuracy of the trend factor, HUD proposed using a metropolitan trend factor rather than a national factor to improve its forecast of changes in gross rents. For Small Area FMRs, HUD proposed using a weighted average of bordering zip codes to calculate SAFMRs in certain circumstances in which the zip code-level SAFMR is not available or reliable, which can occur in metropolitan areas where zip code geographies do not align well with the SAFMR approach of neighborhood-level rent setting.
On its website, HUD provided a spreadsheet of the hypothetical and current FMRs for PHAs to evaluate how their FMRs would change under the new methodology. However, the current FMRs included those calculated using PHA-sponsored rent surveys while the hypothetical FMRs did not, making it impossible for some PHAs to fully evaluate these changes. CLPHA believes this reflects an oversight or lack of transparency on HUD’s part. For FMRs in areas not using rent surveys, we found that the proposed methodology using localized trend factors resulted in a very small benefit to a limited number of PHAs. We were also disappointed that despite HUD’s awareness of the extent to which outdated gross rents contribute to inaccurate FMRs, the sole focus of the proposed changes was for the trend factor component.
CLPHA’s comments reflect these concerns as well as our support for the fact that HUD is finally exploring use of commercial data in its FMR calculations. In addition to further investigation of commercial data sources, we would like to see a proposal from HUD on ways to improve gross rents as well as a more transparent process for evaluating any future changes to the FMR calculation.
If you have questions or concerns regarding the notice, please contact Senior Research & Policy Analyst Emily Warren at firstname.lastname@example.org.