It is expected that later in 2016 the new Housing and Urban Development SAFMR program will be rolled out. However, even before this occurs, several cities have applied for (and received) exemptions so that they will not need to provide the service in their region.
Since they will be exempt, what this means is that these six cities will not need to provide vouchers to pay any increase in rent that maybe associated with the higher cost of living in certain zip codes. After all SAFMR was created to do just this. It was intended to help families move out of “poverty” stricken neighborhoods. Learn more on SAFMR vouchers to move
The ramifications to the residents of these cities will be substantial. The hope was that SAFMR may allow people to move out of unsafe neighborhoods or those with poor educational systems. This new HUD program was to provide tenants additional money to cover and housing costs for homes in more “affluent” or upscale areas. Or the voucher could help the family not only move to a safe area, but maybe it would also allow the family to move to a home that is closer to their workplace.
It was thought that SAFMR would allow tens of thousands of families to relocate throughout 2016. Now the residents of the six cities will not be able to participate until at least 2017 if not later. So this means that they will not be eligible to receive an increase in the amount of their HUD voucher to pay the higher rental costs in a more desirable neighborhood.
The approach was to have been zip code oriented, which was to make SAFMR a more granular approach. The fact is that an apartment (or leased house) in a neighborhood with better schools, access to public transit, and less crime will be more costly. So HUD was to pay for the additional costs. However these six cities filed an appeal with HUD that states they do not need to offer the program.
There are a few reasons for these exemptions. These 6 municipalities, including Baltimore, Milwaukee, and Albuquerque, are fearing that if they allow SAFMR, then there may be a reduction in the number of people that can be provided vouchers in their area. They think that if they allocate the precocious vouchers to pay for moving or increased rent costs, that less people will benefit during 2016. So they are taking the mindset that if they provide more money for more expensive housing, that will equal less people enrolling into the general section 8 program.
There are two other arguments that are commonly being made. One is that if people move out of these lower income neighborhoods, this will lead to less investment into them and maybe even abandoned buildings. The second argument is from the general public. They frankly do not want inner city families moving to the suburbs or more desirable areas. They fear crime will increase. It can even be argued that this is a form of discrimination.
Time will tell how this will play out. SAFMR rules are still being revised, and the final program will not be effective until later in 2016. Until that occurs the program is open to change. But it seems as if the six cities will do whatever they can to contest it.