The Small Area Fair Market Rents (SAFMR) program will help beneficiaries of Section 8 housing vouchers pay the rent on homes or apartments that are located in the suburbs. In addition, there may be both counseling as well as financial help given to the family to help them resettle into these communities.
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development created this program in order to offer a more diverse range of apartments to current clients of Section 8. It may also allow them live in a better school district, a safer neighborhoods, or maybe closer to their job. It can often be difficult for any low income family (even if they have a voucher) to pay the monthly rent on properties in more desirable areas outside of a city center. SAFMR was create to help address this issue.
Small Area FMR is open to any current section 8 client. So they already need to be receiving a HUD voucher. But there may be a waiting list to move, with possible priority given to the disabled or senior citizens if they have a crisis. SAFMR can also help low income single moms move to a better, more safer neighborhood.
The goal of Small Area Fair Market Rents program and the housing choice voucher paid out is to give a family a better life in a new, suburban or some other safer area. There may be better schools for their kids. Or relocation will help them move into a safer apartment in an area with less crime and/or poverty.
Not only can HUD help them pay the rent for these more expensive apartments, but relocation assistance is also provided as part of Small Area Fair Market Rents. The fact is there are often very few landlords in the suburbs that want to accept these vouchers for non-urban housing. A major reason is often the cost of monthly rents for units outside of city centers. The property owner can often make more money by leasing to another family. The financial financial help from Small Area FMR can help make up this difference.
Not only will a voucher be able to be used in other markets outside of city centers, but the government will even try to resettle the family. This means that the person will be given a counselor to work with so they can get help in locating a more suburban home. Or if they want to live in an area further out (such as a rural farmland) this can be arrange too. SAFMR can assist with paying for upfront rental costs, or tenants can also apply for other resources to help pay section 8 security deposits.
For example, the cost of a small apartment in a more desirable area with a better school system outside of a city center may be 10-50% higher than a unit in the city. Of course the exact pricing will vary by state and part of the country, but in general suburban areas are more costly, especially those in wealthier neighborhoods or those with better school systems or amenities such as parks nearby. Safer neighbors are more expensive to live in.
A number of services will be provided by a Public Housing Authority (PHA) as part of this moving process. The counselor will work with the applicant to find a home in the suburbs that meets the requirements of the family. They will review the number of bedrooms that are needed, whether the unit needs to be accessible to the disabled, and also assess the monthly costs, ranging from rent to utilities. Small Area FMR will also take into account the local school system as well as whether public transmit is available or not.
SAFMR will also be putting into place various rules and regulations to ensure that discrimination does not occur for individuals seeking to move. If a landlord (or apartment community) tries to stop a person on a section 8 voucher from leasing, then lawsuits may be filed by the PHA.
The federal government Fair Housing Laws state that every person is entitled to be treated fairly when they are applying for a place to live, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development will not tolerate discrimination. It does not matter if they are black, immigrants, disabled, or elderly, discrimination is illegal. Any recipient of a rental assistance voucher from Small Area FMR can also receive free legal aid if they need it to sue a landlord.
What will happen is the low income family will still be given a voucher for paying their rent in the new town or city. But the dollar amount provided will be much higher, as much as double a standard HUD program. The additional money is intended to pay for the higher cost of rental expenses in suburbs. The additional funds can also be used to pay the upfront moving costs to the new town, including a security or utility deposit.
The HUD Small Area Fair Market Rents program will also tend to pay for some or all of the utility bills. This includes water and heating. This is just another form of compensation available to help account for the higher cost of living that a beneficiary may be faced with. So Small Area FMR provides additional assistance for all sorts of housing needs.
To learn more on this resource, or to see if it is available in your town, contact your Public Housing Authority. It is only available for low income families that currently receive section 8. Relocation to the suburbs or to a better home as part of SAFMR is also only available in certain states and counties.
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