D.C. Housing Authority voucher customers have more choices in where to live, while others will be able to stay in their homes as rents rise.
In an effort to keep up the District’s rising rents, the DCHA Board of Commissioners permanently increased the payment standard to 175 percent of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s fair market rent. Two years ago, the board approved a payment standard that was 130 percent of HUD’s fair market rent, which was renewed last year. In December, the board passed an emergency resolution bringing the payment standard to 175 percent.
This increases the value of vouchers so families can get back into neighborhoods, like Shaw, where they were priced out just two years ago. The board’s action, combined with HUD’s increase in fair market rent, allows some D.C. voucher customers to stay in their homes as rents increase. Some others can now afford to move to neighborhoods with more amenities.
DCHA was able to increase its payment standard to 175 percent of HUD’s fair market rent because of the authority’s flexibility as a Moving to Work agency, which allows DCHA to create housing solutions that match the local area.
There are a total of 56 rental submarkets in the District. Before the 2015 increase, DCHA customers could rent in 15 of those submarkets. With the board’s 2016 vote, voucher customers will be able to live in 22 of those submarkets. This vote increased that number to 29 submarkets.
“We have been working with our customers to reintroduce them to neighborhoods that we once could afford,” said Housing Choice Voucher Program Director Ronald McCoy. “We show them the schools and other amenities in the area. We also provide counseling to prepare them with credit checks, security deposits, and other screening criteria landlords may have for prospective tenants.”
This vote also benefits property owners because they will be able to charge rents that are more in line with what they can get in the open market. Many landlords in these areas are not used to receiving vouchers and are unaware of the benefits. DCHA representatives have been meeting with landlords to explain the program, the advantages of being a voucher landlord, and the procedures they must follow to participate.
DCHA customers also may not be aware of all of their new options. DCHA will continue its outreach effort to attract new landlords to the program and to educate current customers about the new opportunity.