Seventy new low-income Idaho households will be able to access affordable housing assistance soon as part of a push from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to expand rental assistance programs.
On Friday. HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge announced 19,000 new housing choice vouchers, commonly known as Section 8 vouchers, to roughly 2,000 housing authorities nationwide. Five housing authorities in Idaho are set to receive new vouchers, with roughly half going to the Treasure Valley.
For many communities on the list to get more vouchers, this is the first time their housing assistance program has been expanded in decades even as population increased.
“The Biden-Harris Administration is leading a historic expansion of housing vouchers,” Fudge said in a press release. “With the new Housing Choice Vouchers, HUD is announcing today, along with steps HUD is taking to make it easier for households to use vouchers, families across the country will have greater access to safe, stable, and affordable housing and the opportunities that come with it.”
Housing Choice Vouchers allow low-income, qualifying families to receive discounted rent at any property where the rent is below a certain rate and the landlord chooses to accept their application. As part of the program, voucher holders pay 30% of their income toward rent and the rest is covered by the voucher.
Thirty of the new vouchers will go to the Idaho Housing and Finance Association to be used statewide. Another 21 will go to the Boise City/Ada County Housing Authority, 13 to the Southwestern Idaho Cooperative Housing Authority serving Canyon County and the final six will be dedicated to the Housing Authority of the City of Pocatello.
Part of a larger push on housing
These new vouchers are part of the American Rescue Plan Act relief package passed in 2021, which included funding for 100,000 new vouchers, according to a fact sheet from HUD. And there could be many more with President Joe Biden’s HUD budget request for next year calling for another $1.6 billion to fund 200,000 additional vouchers.
These vouchers come with additional funds, known as administrative funds, to help pay for moving expenses and incentives for landlords to rent to low-income tenants receiving government assistance. However, this is different than the Emergency Housing Vouchers specifically targeted to people exiting homelessness, which come with waivers allowing more flexibility on qualification and other barriers.
As part of this initiative, HUD has also raised the Fair Market Rent rates nationally in order to make it easier for voucher holders to find a unit that they can use the voucher to help pay for. This is in response to rapidly rising rents nationwide.