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HUD releases new aid for low-income families to keep up with rising rents

The Department of Housing and Urban Development said that fair market rents for fiscal year 2024 will rise about 12 % nationwide and that it has increased funding for housing choice vouchers.
A "for rent" sign in front of a home on July 12, 2023 in Miami.
A sign on the fence of a home in Miami last month lists rental rates.Joe Raedle / Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — The Department of Housing and Urban Development is providing more aid for 2024 housing voucher programs as it deals with rising rents.

The department is establishing an average increase for fair market rents in fiscal year 2024 of about 12% nationwide. The increase, which goes into effect Oct. 1, sets a higher level for the maximum payments for beneficiaries of housing vouchers, allowing them to keep up with rising rents in more competitive rental markets, HUD said in an announcement obtained first by NBC News.

HUD also will release $113 million next week in housing choice voucher funds for public housing agencies in 36 states to help about 9,500 additional households, the department said.

“When rents go up, obviously, the money that has been provided to [public housing authorities] doesn’t go as far, so these funds are going to augment that,” said Richard Monocchio, HUD’s head of public and Indian housing.

The new aid will give tenants "more choice of where they can live, the neighborhoods that they can live in," Monocchio said.

HUD had seen a decline in the use of vouchers in recent years, in part because the fair market rents were not keeping up with what landlords were demanding, said Solomon Greene, the head of HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research. Use of the vouchers has since increased, which the department attributed in part to updated fair market rent calculation methods. The number of families using housing choice vouchers went up by more than 40,000 from October through May, according to the latest data available from HUD.

Housing choice is restricted when rents rise, so "keeping up with those rent increases in terms of the parameters for the program" is important, Greene said.

The national average rent increased by about 5.45% in the last year, according to a report in July by the financial technology company SmartAsset, though the average varies widely depending on the state and the city. New York's statewide increase was about 8.8%, while a dozen cities across the country had rent increases of over 20% from May 2022 to this May, according to the company.

But rising rent rates are starting to soften, Greene said.

"Our data is still capturing the height of the pandemic increases and catching up, but we are seeing signs in many markets of softening in rents in the past year," he said.

President Joe Biden faces low approval numbers for his handling of the economy. An AP-NORC poll this month found that only 36% of U.S. adults approve of his handling of the economy.