Overcoming Barriers to Participation in the HCV Program
The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program has long served as a critical component of the nation’s strategy to ensure low- to moderate-income households have access to affordable housing. While the rental housing industry strongly supports voluntary participation in the HCV program and many housing providers actively participate, the program's broader success is hampered by inefficiencies and duplicative requirements. These challenges have had the effect of reducing industry participation in the program. On November 11, the National Apartment Association (NAA) hosted it’s fourth installment in the Government Affairs Roundtable (GART) virtual learning series, “Overcoming Barriers to Participation in the Section 8 HCV Program”, where speakers delved into the barriers to housing provider participation in the HCV program and discussed source of income-related advocacy strategies.
Dr. Stefanie DeLuca, James Coleman Professor of Sociology & Social Policy at Johns Hopkins University, highlighted her research which found 70 percent of housing providers who refuse voucher holders had, in fact, accepted them previously. Dr. Deluca also shared findings and anecdotes supporting NAA’s position that rental housing providers do not accept vouchers because of valid business reasons, not because of an intent to discriminate against voucher holders themselves. Dr. Deluca is part of a team of researchers who are conducting ongoing HUD-funded research which explores barriers to housing provider participation. Their research proposes a number of opportunities to keep current housing provider participants engaged and encourage new participants in the HCV program. It is a matter of doing the basics well, including on-time payments, damage payment insurance, utility allowances, responsiveness, and standardization of inspections, increasing satisfaction among housing providers.
JD Carey, Executive Director of the Louisville Apartment Association (LAA) and the Kentucky Apartment Association, also shared his efforts to collaborate with the Louisville Metro Housing Authority (LMHA) to incentivize voluntary housing provider participation. Their efforts focused on increasing participation by deploying a LMHA staff member to act as a dedicated “landlord liaison”, sign on and vacancy loss (re-rent) bonuses, and a damage mitigation program. LMHA also tailors solutions to the needs of the housing market, such as increased monetary incentives for one-bedroom apartments since there is a shortage of availability locally. While the incentive program started in September, LAA is already seeing an increase in participation of its members.
Along with the affiliate network, NAA maintains that incentives are key to improving housing provider participation in the HCV program voluntarily and are more effective to expand renters’ access to areas of opportunity than “source of income” mandates. While well intentioned, source of income legislation does nothing to improve the challenges housing providers face in participating in the program. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) must modernize the program to make it more like the standard leasing transaction and optimize its potential for success. We look forward to working with Congress and the Administration on proposed improvements.
As more states and localities consider solutions to housing affordability and seek ways to find safe and affordable housing for the low-to-middle income population, we anticipate the source of income legislation will remain a hot topic and concern for the industry. To better assist our affiliates, NAA has a plethora of information that can be found on the Source of Income policy page.
If you are aware of any new source of income proposals or have questions about the issue, please contact Jodie Applewhite, Manager of Public Policy.