Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Oakland public housing residents facing inhumane rent increases

"Public housing tenants to pay higher rents"
2014-04-08 by Lynda Carson [tenantsrule (@) yahoo.com], posted to [https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/04/08/18753792.php]:
Oakland - With around 50 million people living below the federal poverty line including 47 million people receiving food stamps, the attack on the poor by the Democrats, Republicans and the Obama Administration has heated up again by forcing public housing tenants across the nation to pay higher rents effective June 1, 2014.
Many public housing tenants are now facing major rent increases according to Section 210 of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Appropriations Act of 2014. The FY 2014 omnibus appropriations bill (H.R. 3547) affecting public housing tenants was passed by a Senate vote of 72 to 26 on January 16, 2014, and shortly after was signed into law by President Obama.
The Oakland Housing Authority currently has 2,121 public housing units and based on the latest census report, Oakland has the highest poverty rate for children in the Bay Area with more than 27 percent of them residing in households earning less than $23,000 annually.
The bill H.R. 3547 requires a significant change to the way public housing tenants are being charged rents, and requires Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) to establish flat rents at no less than 80 percent of the fair market rent (FMR), effective June 1, 2014. This is a huge change from the old policy of setting flat rents at no less than 60% of FMR, and will hurt many public housing tenants locally, and across the nation. The higher rents are intended to affect higher income public housing tenants at 60 to 80 percent of median family income, and residents will have the choice of paying an income-adjusted rent, or paying a flat rent.
The latest attack on poor public housing tenants are in addition to the recent nearly $9 billion in cuts to the food stamp program that are to occur over the next decade, including massive across-the-board sequestration budget cuts that have occurred, and other on-going attacks on our nations poverty programs being orchestrated by Republicans and Democrats alike.
As an example of how the higher rents will affect some public housing tenants, it was reported that Columbia public housing tenants living at the Bear Creek project in Missouri, will see their rents more than double. Additionally, tenants at the Stewart Parker site will have their rents incrementally increased from $345 per month to $809 per month, over the next three years.
Other major changes in effect may also affect Section 8 housing choice voucher holders. Under HUD's old guidelines, Section 8 tenants that used to be considered as extremely low-income (ELI) tenants had an income of 30% of the area median income (AMI), or less.
Under HUD's new guidelines set during January of 2014 as a result of H.R. 3547, extremely low-income tenants are now being defined as persons with an income higher than 30% of the AMI, or the federal poverty line, adjusted for family size. The new change in definition may eventually mean that Section 8 voucher holders may also face higher rents in the future, along with their comrades in public housing. However, the rent increase to public housing tenants are not supposed to affect Section 8 tenants presently.
Strange as it may appear, now that extremely low-income persons are being defined by HUD as people with an income higher than 30% of AMI, or the federal poverty line, HUD has declined to give a new name to the millions of poor people living in poverty with an income of 30% of AMI, or less all across the country.
To help put the situation of people living in poverty into perspective. According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 4, 2014 report, 10.5 million people are unemployed, and for many of those who are working at minimum wage, the federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 an hour since July of 2009.
Additionally, the federal poverty line for an extremely low-income person was listed in 2009 as one person earning $10,830 annually, or less. The new poverty line for 2014 is listed as one person earning $11,670 annually or less, even though the minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 an hour since 2009.

Other Local Public Housing Tenants Facing Rent Increases -
The Alameda County Housing Authority has 72 public housing units. The San Francisco Housing Authority has 6,592 public housing units. The Richmond Housing Authority has 715 public housing units. The Housing Authority of Contra Costa County has 1,177 public housing units. The Housing Authority of Marin County has 496 public housing units. The City of Livermore Housing Authority has 125 public housing units. The Santa Cruz County Housing Authority has 234 public housing units.

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