Plan would allow voucher holders to rent rooms in shared housing to increase housing options
By Dolores Quintana
The U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department’s Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program, commonly known as Section 8 vouchers, are vouchers from the Federal Government that pay a portion of market rate rent for people who cannot afford to pay the full amount themselves.
In January 2021, HUD issued a letter to remind Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) that Housing Choice Vouchers remain “a permissible and viable option that may be made available to HCV participants and remind PHAs of the specific programmatic requirements related to Shared Housing for the HCV program.”
The Board of the Santa Monica Housing Authority (SMHA) will meet and discuss this option next Tuesday as reported by The Santa Monica Lookout as part of a possible change to the current policy. SMHA manages about 1,675 rental assistance vouchers, the majority of which are Section 8 vouchers.
According to a staff report, the idea came from a Resident Advisory Board (RAB) representative who mentioned that vouchers could and perhaps should be used to rent housing that is shared with roommates.
The report from Housing and Human Services (CSD) Department stated, as quoted by The Santa Monica Lookout, “Shared housing would allow voucher holders to cohabitate and rent individual rooms in a household with non-voucher participants. The staff understands the difficulties of securing housing in the private market and agrees that shared housing offers greater choice to voucher holders.
Additionally, the SMHA board will also consider changing the policy regarding annual rent increase policy which is in line with HUD’s rules regarding Section 8 vouchers for shared housing relating to rent increases. Landlords with Section 8 voucher tenants would be required to proactively contact and request those increases a minimum of sixty days in advance and to notify tenants as well as SMHA.
There were other issues of interest that were part of the report namely the creation of a homeownership program, resuming of the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program and requesting to become part of the Move To Work (MTW) program. However, the staff report stated that, at this time, the City does not have adequate resources to run any of these programs according to The Santa Monica Lookout.
The report and the meeting are part of the yearly review that is required of SMHA by the Federal Government along with a yearly plan, progress on the five-year plan and update the Administrative Plan.