Changes to the Housing Opportunity Program
Effective May 1, 2022, THA will no longer issue new HOP subsidies. New households will receive traditional, income-based Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV), commonly referred to as Section 8. Current HOP households will be transitioned over to income-based rental assistance in phases over the course of the year.
THA’s Housing Opportunity Program (HOP) was a rent reform program for all new admissions to THA’s tenant-based program between 2013 and 2022.
The goal was to help our participants achieve true self-sufficiency by assisting them with their housing needs for a specific term. This was thought to incentivize our participants to focus on securing better employment and prepare them for a better future.
The Original Housing Opportunity Program
The program was originally fixed-subsidy and time-limited. All admissions between 2013 and 2022 to the HOP program receive a fixed subsidy. That included senior/disabled households.
- Work-able households had a five-year time limit on their assistance.
- Senior/disabled households did not have the time limit applied. These households have annual re-examinations so THA can monitor the earned income and compare it to its other programs. There are no interim re-examinations.
Families received notices at every annual recertification indicating the number of years remaining on their term-limited subsidy along with continuous referral services to a variety of available resources.
THA did not allow port outs for the HOP program except in cases of domestic violence covered by VAWA and Reasonable Accommodations.
The fixed subsidy is set at 50% of established payment standards.
THA offered a limited extension of rental assistance for time-limited households who met specific criteria. Households approaching the end of their five-year time limit may be eligible for a limited extension due to an unforeseen loss of income or the completion of a self-sufficiency activity. The interim hardship policy and eligibility requirements are detailed in THA’s 2018 Moving to Work Plan.
In recent evaluations of the Housing Opportunity Program, THA found that due to significant shifts in Tacoma’s housing and rental market over the last few years, households with the lowest incomes have often been unable to afford to pay the remaining rent they are responsible for. In fact, after often waiting more than 1-2 years on THA’s waitlist, about 40% of extremely low-income households never found housing with a HOP subsidy. An overwhelming majority of public comments echoed this data, and virtually all comments favored ending HOP in favor of HCV.
Internal data also indicated a growing disparity between white and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) households, with BIPOC households becoming less likely to lease up with THA assistance in the most recent years. Additionally, when comparing HOP to the traditional HCV program, across nearly all demographic categories, households were more likely to lease up, increase their income, achieve self-sufficiency, and exit with a lower market rent burden if they were on the HCV program.
In April 2022, THA’s Board of Commissioners voted to sunset the Housing Opportunity Program. This eliminated the 5-year time limit and allowed THA to begin converting HOP households to a traditional income-based subsidy.