HUD finalized its Project-Based Voucher (PBV) rule last Friday, June 25. This long-awaited final rule makes changes to the program authorized by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. The proposed rule had been issued in May 2012. CSH joined 20 other organizations in submitting comments on the proposed PBV rule.
The final rule takes into account several recommendations made by the joint-comment letter. For example, the proposed rule had suggested that PBV contacts could not exceed 30 years: an initial 15-year contract plus extensions totaling no more than 15 years. HUD made it clear that it was not attempting to limit PBV contract extensions to 30 years, but rather allowing for an initial 30-year commitment at the beginning of the HAP contract. In addition, the proposed rule had originally proposed a definition change of “existing housing,” that would have significantly narrowed the range of properties and units that qualify for project-based vouchers as “existing housing.” The proposed rule would have allowed PBV assistance to existing housing only where the anticipated cost of repairs did not exceed $1,000 per unit.
The final rule leaves in place the definition of existing housing, but HUD will resubmit changes to the definition of “existing housing” for public comment in the future. Another key clarification HUD made in the final rule was to ensure that families residing in excepted units based on elderly or disabled status and lose that status for circumstances beyond their control are able to continue to reside in the unit and allow the PHA to continue to count the unit as excepted under the contract or transfer the assistance to another unit within the building. This critical change will help protect residents from being evicted from their apartment without reducing the number of units assisted under a PBV contract in a given property.
Unfortunately, HUD did not adopt the proposed rule’s modification to tenant selection which would help match better match tenants with supportive services offered at a property. The proposed rule would have allowed preferences for people who qualify for available services rather than for those that “need” services. HUD stated that it will retain the current language in the regulation, but continue to examine how it can improve the understanding of this section and better connect eligible tenants with supportive services. Further, HUD indicated that it may issue guidance to provide examples of how a preference may be structured.