Section 8 tenants could get more for their vouchers under proposal
Low-income families in Tacoma and Pierce County might soon be able to use their Section 8 voucher to move to neighborhoods with better schools and job opportunities, if a change in federal standards for how subsidies are set in certain metropolitan areas is approved.
Local housing authorities that distribute the vouchers, though, said they are skeptical about whether that will actually help needy renters in an extremely tight rental market with little affordable housing.
Housing and Urban Development has proposed changing the way fair market rents are set for monthly rental vouchers in 31 metropolitan areas with what it calls particularly restrictive housing markets across the country. That list, which includes Tacoma and Pierce County, runs the gamut from major metropolitan areas like New York City, Atlanta and Chicago to smaller cities, like Gary, Indiana.
The goal, HUD said, is to deconcentrate poverty and give families in those markets a chance to broaden their neighborhood options. Affordable housing is an issue that’s been top of mind for HUD and local housing authorities: On Tuesday, HUD Deputy Secretary Nani Coloretti will meet with Michael Mirra, executive director of the Tacoma Housing Authority, at the authority’s Salishan development for a discussion about how the region can meet the demand for affordable housing as the population increases.
“What we’re proposing to do is to allow housing authorities where we’ve determined there to be a significant degree of concentration of voucher holders in certain neighborhoods, to allow them to instead set the fair market rent by a smaller area,” said Lee Jones, a spokesman for HUD based in Seattle. “The point here is to try to put the choice back into the Housing Choice Voucher program and give families or households who want the choice to move from high poverty neighborhoods to high opportunity neighborhoods.