On October 15, MassLandlords compiled and submitted member comments to the Department of Housing and Urban Development with regard to two questions about Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, a set of rules HUD intends to revise. Principally these rules govern the behavior of Section 8 administrators.
AFFH Question 1
“What type of community participation and consultation should program participants undertake in fulfilling their AFFH obligations?”
Participants should involve landlords’ organizations in designing their outreach efforts, as opposed to merely soliciting opinion after the design stage. Member-based landlords’ organizations such as MassLandlords are well placed to fashion efforts that will maximize engagement on the part of rental-property owners.
AFFH Question 2
“Should HUD incentivize grantees and PHAs to collaborate in the jurisdiction and the region to remove fair housing obstacles? What are examples of obstacles that the AFFH regulations should seek to address?”
Yes, incentives to collaborate across jurisdictions could help reduce concentrations of poverty. HUD should provide incentives for multi-jurisdictional zoning changes to encourage higher-density, mixed-use development and walkable neighborhoods with access to reliable public transportation. In addition, HUD should require PHAs to use Small Area Fair Market Rents (SAFMR).
With regard to obstacles, in Massachusetts some Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) have created barriers that affect the people whose housing choice vouchers they administer, e.g.
- Requiring landlords to wait for physical paperwork and inspections;
- Delays in notifying landlords of the allowed rent, the subsidy, and the tenant’s contribution;
- Retroactive adjustments to subsidies and tenant contributions;
- One-size-fits-all leases; and
- A 60-day notice period for rent increases.
These barriers put applicants with vouchers at a competitive disadvantage vis-à-vis market applicants. PHAs should remove these barriers by:
- Ensuring that rental paperwork has electronic options;
- Scheduling inspections at a convenient time so that inspections do not delay the execution of a lease;
- Providing landlords (at the time of the rental application) with a clear document that sets forth the amount of rent allowed and the renter’s portion thereof, similar to the way market-rate renters provide landlords with their pay stubs;
- Changing subsidy and contribution amounts going forward, not retroactively;
- Allowing flexibility in leases; and
- Reducing the notice period for rent increases to 30 days.
We thanked HUD for their interest in reforming and sustaining Section 8 and ensuring fair housing opportunities and increased housing supply.
If you would like to thank MassLandlords for providing this input, please fund our work by becoming a Property Rights Supporter or by upgrading your contribution amount. If you have more comments to add, email firstname.lastname@example.org.