Effective July 1, 2018, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) will begin using Small Area Fair Market Rents (SAFMRs) to calculate rental assistance in the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program.
What are FMRs?
HUD publishes Fair Market Rents (FMRs) annually for regions throughout the region. For DCA, this region includes all of Barrow, Bartow, Carroll, Cherokee, Coweta, Dawson, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Heard, Henry, Jasper, Newton, Paulding, Pickens, Pike, Rockdale, Spalding, and Walton Counties. FMRs are used to establish payment standards.
What are SAFMRs?
SAFMR stands for “Small Area Fair Market Rent” where payment standards are established from the SAFMRs on a ZIP code basis for each bedroom size. The DCA is mandated to utilize SAFMRs HUD establishes and publishes the SAFMRs annually.
What are payment standards?
Payment standards are used to calculate the maximum subsidy that DCA will pay for a rental unit in the HCV program. Under the HCV program, a family is generally required to pay 30 percent of their adjusted income for rent and utilities. DCA then pays the difference between the family’s portion of the rent and either (a) the payment standard or (b) the gross rent (rent plus estimated utilities) of the unit – whichever is lower. If the HCV families choose to pay more to live in a unit where rent and utilities exceed the payment standard, DCA may approve to pay the difference if they have sufficient income.
HUD allows the DCA to establish the payment standards as a percentage of the SAFMRs for each ZIP code. For more information on the payment standards by ZIP code please click here
What’s new about this approach?
Until now, the amount DCA paid toward rent for families with vouchers was based on rental rates (by bedroom size) across the entire metropolitan area. Under the new approach the payment standard is based on the localized rent in each ZIP code (the SAFMRs) providing opportunities to voucher families to access all communities in the region including higher opportunity areas.
How will voucher holders be affected?
Families with vouchers, will still be able to choose the unit that meets your needs (subject to DCA’s requirements). However, with the SAFMRs they will be able to use thier voucher in more places than would have been possible before – including neighborhoods that have high-performing schools, reduced crime, access to grocery stores, parks, medical facilities, child care, transportation and other amenities.