GFHA Administrative Plan for the Housing Choice Voucher Program
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Chapter 6: Income & Subsidy Determinations
PART III: CALCULATING FAMILY SHARE AND GFHA SUBSIDY 6-III.A.OVERVIEW OF RENT AND SUBSIDY CALCULATIONS TTP Formula [24 CFR 5.628] HUD regulations specify the formula for calculating the total tenant payment (TTP) for an assisted family. TTP is the highest of the following amounts, rounded to the nearest dollar:
30 percent of the family’s monthly adjusted income (adjusted income is defined in Part II)
10 percent of the family’s monthly gross income (annual income, as defined in Part I, divided by 12)
The welfare rent (in as-paid states only)
A minimum rent between $0 and $50 that is established by the PHA
The PHA has authority to suspend and exempt families from minimum rent when a financial hardship exists, as defined in section 6-III.B. The amount that a family pays for rent and utilities (the family share) will never be less than the family’s TTP but may be greater than the TTP depending on the rent charged for the unit the family selects.
Welfare Rent [24 CFR 5.628] GFHA Policy Welfare rent does not apply in this locality.
Minimum Rent [24 CFR 5.630] GFHA Policy The minimum rent for this locality is $50.
Family Share [24 CFR 982.305(a)(5)] If a family chooses a unit with a gross rent (rent to owner plus an allowance for tenant-paid utilities) that exceeds the PHA’s applicable payment standard: (1) the family will pay more than the TTP, and (2) at initial occupancy the PHA may not approve the tenancy if it would require the family share to exceed 40 percent of the family’s monthly adjusted income. The income used for this determination must have been verified no earlier than 60 days before the family’s voucher was issued. (For a discussion of the application of payment standards, see section 6III.C.)
PHA Subsidy [24 CFR 982.505(b)] The PHA will pay a monthly housing assistance payment (HAP) for a family that is equal to the lower of (1) the applicable payment standard for the family minus the family’s TTP or (2) the gross rent for the family’s unit minus the TTP. (For a discussion of the application of payment standards, see section 6-III.C.)
Utility Reimbursement [24 CFR 982.514(b); 982.514(c)] When the PHA subsidy for a family exceeds the rent to owner, the family is due a utility reimbursement. HUD permits the PHA to pay the reimbursement to the family or directly to the utility provider.
GFHA Policy The GFHA will make utility reimbursements to the family.
The PHA may make all utility reimbursement payments to qualifying families on a monthly basis or may make quarterly payments when the monthly reimbursement amount is $15.00 or less. Reimbursements must be made once per calendar-year quarter and must be prorated if the family leaves the program in advance of its next quarterly reimbursement. The PHA must also adopt hardship policies for families for whom receiving quarterly reimbursement would create a financial hardship.
GFHA Policy The GFHA will issue all utility reimbursements monthly.
6-III.B.FINANCIAL HARDSHIPS AFFECTING MINIMUM RENT [24 CFR 5.630] Overview If the PHA establishes a minimum rent greater than zero, the PHA must grant an exemption from the minimum rent if a family is unable to pay the minimum rent because of financial hardship.
The financial hardship exemption applies only to families required to pay the minimum rent. If a family’s TTP is higher than the minimum rent, the family is not eligible for a hardship exemption. If the PHA determines that a hardship exists, the family share is the highest of the remaining components of the family’s calculated TTP.
HUD-Defined Financial Hardship Financial hardship includes the following situations: 1. The family has lost eligibility for or is awaiting an eligibility determination for a federal, state, or local assistance program. This includes a family member who is a noncitizen lawfully admitted for permanent residence under the Immigration and Nationality Act who would be entitled to public benefits but for Title IV of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996. GFHA Policy A hardship will be considered to exist only if the loss of eligibility has an impact on the family’s ability to pay the minimum rent. For a family waiting for a determination of eligibility, the hardship period will end as of the first of the month following: (1) implementation of assistance, if approved, or (2) the decision to deny assistance. A family whose request for assistance is denied may request a hardship exemption based upon one of the other allowable hardship circumstances. 2. The family would be evicted because it is unable to pay the minimum rent. GFHA Policy For a family to qualify under this provision, the cause of the potential eviction must be the family’s failure to pay rent to the owner or tenant-paid utilities.
3. Family income has decreased because of changed family circumstances, including the loss of employment.
4. A death has occurred in the family. GFHA Policy In order to qualify under this provision, a family must describe how the death has created a financial hardship (e.g., because of funeral-related expenses or the loss of the family member’s income).
5. The family has experienced other circumstances determined by the PHA. GFHA Policy The GFHA has not established any additional hardship criteria.
Implementation of Hardship Exemption Determination of Hardship When a family requests a financial hardship exemption, the PHA must suspend the minimum rent requirement beginning the first of the month following the family’s request.
The PHA then determines whether the financial hardship exists and whether the hardship is temporary or long-term.
GFHA Policy The GFHA defines temporary hardship as a hardship expected to last 90 days or less. Long-term hardship is defined as a hardship expected to last more than 90 days.
When the minimum rent is suspended, the family share reverts to the highest of the remaining components of the calculated TTP. The example below demonstrates the effect of the minimum rent exemption.
GFHA Policy To qualify for a hardship exemption, a family must submit a request for a hardship exemption in writing. The request must explain the nature of the hardship and how the hardship has affected the family’s ability to pay the minimum rent.
The GFHA will make the determination of hardship within 30 calendar days.
No Financial Hardship If the PHA determines there is no financial hardship, the PHA will reinstate the minimum rent and require the family to repay the amounts suspended. GFHA Policy The GFHA will require the family to repay the suspended amount within 30 calendar days of the GFHA’s notice that a hardship exemption has not been granted.
Temporary Hardship If the PHA determines that a qualifying financial hardship is temporary, the PHA must suspend the minimum rent for the 90-day period beginning the first of the month following the date of the family’s request for a hardship exemption.
At the end of the 90-day suspension period, the family must resume payment of the minimum rent and must repay the PHA the amounts suspended. HUD requires the PHA to offer a reasonable repayment agreement, on terms and conditions established by the PHA. The PHA also may determine that circumstances have changed and the hardship is now a long-term hardship.
GFHA Policy The GFHA will enter into a repayment agreement in accordance with the procedures found in Chapter 16 of this plan.
Long-Term Hardship If the PHA determines that the financial hardship is long-term, the PHA must exempt the family from the minimum rent requirement for so long as the hardship continues. The exemption will apply from the first of the month following the family’s request until the end of the qualifying hardship. When the financial hardship has been determined to be long-term, the family is not required to repay the minimum rent.
GFHA Policy The hardship period ends when any of the following circumstances apply:
At an interim or annual reexamination, the family’s calculated TTP is greater than the minimum rent.
For hardship conditions based on loss of income, the hardship condition will continue to be recognized until new sources of income are received that are at least equal to the amount lost. For example, if a hardship is approved because a family no longer receives a $60/month child support payment, the hardship will continue to exist until the family receives at least $60/month in income from another source or once again begins to receive the child support.
For hardship conditions based upon hardship-related expenses, the minimum rent exemption will continue to be recognized until the cumulative amount exempted is equal to the expense incurred.
6-III.C. APPLYING PAYMENT STANDARDS [24 CFR 982.505; 982.503(b)] Overview The PHA’s schedule of payment standards is used to calculate housing assistance payments for HCV families. This section covers the application of the PHA’s payment standards. The establishment and revision of the PHA’s payment standard schedule are covered in Chapter 16. Payment standard is defined as “the maximum monthly assistance payment for a family assisted in the voucher program (before deducting the total tenant payment by the family)” [24 CFR 982.4(b)].
The payment standard for a family is the lower of (1) the payment standard for the family unit size, which is defined as the appropriate number of bedrooms for the family under the PHA’s subsidy standards [24 CFR 982.4(b)], or (2) the payment standard for the size of the dwelling unit rented by the family.
If the PHA has established an exception payment standard for a designated part of a zip code area or FMR area and a family’s unit is located in the exception area, the PHA must use the appropriate payment standard for the exception area.
The PHA is required to pay a monthly housing assistance payment (HAP) for a family that is the lower of (1) the payment standard for the family minus the family’s TTP or (2) the gross rent for the family’s unit minus the TTP.
If during the term of the HAP contract for a family’s unit, the owner lowers the rent, the PHA will recalculate the HAP using the lower of the initial payment standard or the gross rent for the unit [HCV GB, p. 7-8].
Changes in Payment Standards When the PHA revises its payment standards during the term of the HAP contract for a family’s unit, it will apply the new payment standards in accordance with HUD regulations.
Decreases If a PHA changes its payment standard schedule, resulting in a lower payment standard amount, during the term of a HAP contract, the PHA is not required to reduce the payment standard used to calculate subsidy for families under HAP contract as long as the HAP contract remains in effect [FR Notice 11/16/16].
However, if the PHA does choose to reduce the payment standard for families currently under HAP contract, the initial reduction to the payment standard may not be applied any earlier than the effective date of the family’s second regular reexamination following the effective date of the decrease in the payment standard amount. At that point, the PHA may either reduce the payment standard to the current amount in effect on the PHA’s payment standard schedule, or may reduce the payment standard to another amount that is higher than the normally applicable amount on the schedule. The PHA may also establish different policies for designated areas within their jurisdiction (e.g., different zip code areas).
In any case, the PHA must provide the family with at least 12 months’ notice that the payment standard is being reduced before the effective date of the change. The PHA’s policy on decreases in the payment standard during the term of the HAP contract apply to all families under HAP contract at the time of the effective date of the decrease in the payment standard within the designated area.
GFHA Policy If a GFHA changes its payment standard schedule resulting in a lower payment standard amount, during the term of a HAP contract, the GFHA will reduce the payment standard used to calculate subsidy for families under HAP contract to the current level at the second regular reexamination after the decrease.
The GFHA will not establish different policies for decreases in the payment standard for designated areas within their jurisdiction.
Increases If the payment standard is increased during the term of the HAP contract, the increased payment standard will be used to calculate the monthly housing assistance payment for the family beginning on the effective date of the family’s first regular reexamination on or after the effective date of the increase in the payment standard. Families requiring or requesting interim reexaminations will not have their HAP payments calculated using the higher payment standard until their next annual reexamination [HCV GB, p. 7-8].
Changes in Family Unit Size (Voucher Size) Irrespective of any increase or decrease in the payment standard, if the family unit size increases or decreases during the HAP contract term, the new family unit size must be used to determine the payment standard for the family beginning at the family’s first regular reexamination following the change in family unit size.
Reasonable Accommodation If a family requires a higher payment standard as a reasonable accommodation for a family member who is a person with disabilities, the PHA is allowed to establish a higher payment standard for the family of not more than 120 percent of the published FMR.
6-III.D.APPLYING UTILITY ALLOWANCES [24 CFR 982.517] Overview A PHA-established utility allowance schedule is used in determining family share and GFHA subsidy. A family's utility allowance is determined by the size of dwelling unit leased by a family or the voucher unit size for which the family qualifies using PHA subsidy standards, whichever is the lowest of the two. See Chapter 5 for information on the PHA’s subsidy standards.
For policies on establishing and updating utility allowances, see Chapter 16.
Reasonable Accommodation HCV program regulations require a PHA to approve a utility allowance amount higher than shown on the GFHA’s schedule if a higher allowance is needed as a reasonable accommodation for a family member with a disability. For example, if a family member with a disability requires such an accommodation, the PHA will approve an allowance for air-conditioning, even if the PHA has determined that an allowance for air-conditioning generally is not needed.
The family must request the higher allowance and provide the GFHA with an explanation of the need for the reasonable accommodation and information about the amount of additional allowance required [HCV GB, p. 18-8].
Utility Allowance Revisions At reexamination, the PHA must use the current utility allowance schedule [HCV GB, p. 18-8].
GFHA Policy Revised utility allowances will be applied to a family’s rent and subsidy calculations at the first annual reexamination that is effective after the allowance is adopted.
6-III.E.PRORATED ASSISTANCE FOR MIXED FAMILIES [24 CFR 5.520] HUD regulations prohibit assistance to ineligible family members. A mixed family is one that includes at least one U.S. citizen or eligible immigrant and any number of ineligible family members. The PHA must prorate the assistance provided to a mixed family. The PHA will first determine assistance as if all family members were eligible and then prorate the assistance based upon the percentage of family members that actually are eligible. For example, if the PHA subsidy for a family is calculated at $500 and two of four family members are ineligible, the PHA subsidy would be reduced to $250.