Last night the Senate voted to approve the Housing Opportunity through Modernization Act of 2016 (HOTMA). The bill, which was passed by the House of Representatives in February, is expected to be signed into law next week. The bill has received widespread support from industry groups and advocacy organizations.
The new law contains a number of changes to program rules for the public housing and housing choice voucher (HCV) programs, homeless and veteran programs, and the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program.
Here is a brief synopsis of major HOTMA changes. Remember that HUD must complete the formal rulemaking process before changes take effect.
Revisions to the calculation of annual and adjusted income
- After the initial year of assistance, prior-year income use is mandatory. Adjustments will be available to reflect current income
- Exclusion of imputed asset income, unless net assets exceed $50,000
- Increase in the allowance for elderly and disabled families from $400 to $525
- Deduction for medical expenses which exceed 10 percent of annual income (changed from 3 percent)
- Hardship exemptions required
Changes impacting the public housing and HCV programs
- Requirement to provide a preference or priority for financial assistance to U.S. citizens or nationals before any alien who is otherwise eligible for assistance
- Revisions to inspection requirements for the HCV program, including authorization for permitting families to occupy a unit prior to inspection (where the unit has been inspected within the past 24 months and no life-threatening deficiencies were found)
- Imposition of an asset cap of $100,000
- Optional termination of tenancy for public housing residents whose annual income exceeds 120 percent of fair market rent for two years
- Changes to rules governing interim reexaminations
- Interim decreases required only if rent will decrease by 10 percent or more
- Interim increases required if rent will increase by 10 percent or more
Other HOTMA changes
- Options to increase the allowable percentage of project-based vouchers (PBVs) and to extend PBV contract terms
- Requirements for HUD to provide PHAs with
- Data on local utility consumption for use in determining utility allowances
- Guidelines for minimum heating requirements in public housing