HUD’s fiscal year 2019 budget request to Congress presumes Congress will enact HUD’s rent reform proposals, which raise rents on residents and would allow owners and public housing authorities to impose work requirements on non-elderly and non-disabled households. Without the revenue raised by enacting the rent reform proposal, HUD’s fiscal year 2019 budget request will be insufficient to renew rental assistance contracts for existing federally-assisted homes.

There is some support for these efforts in the House, but it’s unclear if there’s sufficient support to move any proposals out of Committee. There is far less support for these type of rent reform efforts in the Senate. Education of all members of Congress on the many downsides of increasing HUD-assisted seniors’ rents will be important all year. The House Financial Services Committee held a hearing on rent reform on April 25.

Impact of HUD’s Rent Reform, “Make Affordable Housing Work Again,” on Seniors:

  • Moves rent structure to 30% of gross income (or a $50 minimum rent, whichever is greater). Eliminates all deductions, including deductions for high medical expenses and for being a senior.
  • Impacts newly assisted seniors the first day after enactment. No “hold harmless” for newly assisted seniors. Owners would have to maintain two sets of rent-setting rules.
  • Currently-assisted seniors would not see rent changes until second triennial recertification (that is, for six years).
  • Redefines “elderly” to bring 62 – 65-year-olds into the even higher rent schemes proposed by the bill as well as the work requirements the bill would establish for non-seniors and non-persons with disabilities. HUD’s redefinition of “elderly household” would mean that everyone in the household (except a caregiver) would have to be   at least 65. Redefinition of elderly is for rent setting, interim income recertifications, and work requirement purposes, not for program eligibility.
  • Applies to all HUD programs, which serve 1.5M senior households.

As part of a broader effort to oppose this and the rent reform draft bill from Representative Dennis Ross (R-FL) that is circulating, LeadingAge released this quote:

“We were shocked to see rent increases targeting HUD’s lowest income senior residents in a draft proposal from the department charged with creating ‘quality affordable homes for all’ as well as in a draft bill circulating from a member of Congress. More than 1.5 million seniors rely on HUD’s programs to provide stable, quality housing. Increasing rents, including rents for the very lowest income seniors, will do much more harm than good. LeadingAge is hopeful that Congress will see fit to keep the federal housing safety net intact,” said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge.