FCRHA Approves Changes to the Housing Choice Voucher Program
On November 2, 2017, the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority (FCRHA) approved changes to the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program that will impact most participants. These changes are an effort to ensure that as federal funding decreases and rental prices increase, the FCRHA can continue to serve all families currently receiving HCV assistance.
In September, the FCRHA informed participants of potential changes that could impact how the agency calculates their share of rent paid to a landlord. Based on feedback received from many participants via several community outreach sessions, the FCRHA amended previously proposed changes to lessen the financial impact on families.
“While changes to the program are necessary, we understand that they will be challenging for many,” notes Robert Schwaninger, Chairman of the FCRHA. “For this reason, we felt it important to amend our proposed changes and help ease the transition. At the end of the day, the well-being of our residents comes first.”
The approved program changes include an increase in minimum rent from $50 to $220 for work-able families, an increase in the share of rent from 30 to 32 percent (or minimum $50) for non-work-able families, the establishment of a flat utility allowance by bedroom size, and a change in subsidy standards based on one bedroom for the head of household (and spouse or co-head) and two persons per bedroom for all other family members. Modifications were specifically made to the utility allowances and subsidy standards. Previous proposed changes recommended the elimination of utility allowances and only allowed for two person per bedroom including the head of household (and spouse).
Approved changes will not take effect for in-place families until at least March 2019. An estimate of household-specific changes will be sent at least one year prior to a household’s recertification. The FCRHA anticipates mailing the notices with household specific estimates beginning in January 2018 for families with recertification exams effective March 1, 2019 and later. Depending on a family’s recertification schedule, some may not see a change for another year or two. This gives families at least one year notice to prepare for changes to the program.
Over the next year, the FCRHA will be offering and referring families to many resources that will help prepare for the changes—including employment assistance, increasing income, preparing a budget, and ways to conserve utility usage. It is anticipated that HCV changes will be implemented for all families in the HCV program by November 2021.