You are invited!

The Helena Housing Authority (HHA) Board of Commissioners invites public comment regarding the adoption of new 2020 public housing program utility allowances, public housing flat rents, and Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program payment standards.  We welcome your comments and participation in this public process.

The proposed changes will be discussed with the HHA Resident Management Council at their November 11, 2019 and December 9, 2019 meetings, starting at 6:00 p.m. in the main floor common area of the HHA ME Anderson Building, 100 S. Warren Street.

The proposed changes will be discussed at a public meeting of the HHA Board of Commissioners meeting to be held on Tuesday November 19th at 4:15 p.m. at the HHA’s Helena Learning Center conference room at 940 N. Roberts Street in Helena.  A final public meeting of the HHA Board of Commissioners to review and take final action regarding these changes will be held on December 17, 2019 at 4:15 p.m. at the HHA Administrative Office conference room 812 Abbey Street (this location is subject to change depending upon completion of the administrative office renovation project).

Public comment on the proposed changes will be welcome at all these public meetings. Written comments on the proposed changes will be received through December 12, 2019 at 4:30 PM.  Please submit written comments using the Drop Box located at the HHA Administrative Office at 812 Abbey Street, Helena or by email to: moneil@hhamt.org.  Updates regarding the proposed changes will be available online at the following site: https://hhamt.org/news-updates/.

If you have questions, or you are a person with a disability and require a reasonable accommodation to participate in this process, please contact Michael O’Neil, Executive Director at HHA at (406) 442-7970 (TTY: (800) 253-4091 or 711) or email: moneil@hhamt.org.

The proposed changes are listed below:

1) Proposed 2020 Utility Allowances (effective January 1, 2020): HHA Public Housing: Stewart Homes and Scattered Sites

The utility allowance is used in calculating the rent paid
for public housing households who pay their own utilities. Households living at
Stewart Homes and HHA Scattered Site properties rent paid will be impacted by
utility allowances adjustments. HHA pays all utilities for residents at the ME
Anderson building.

Under the terms of its HUD Energy Performance Contract, HHA is required to use utility allowances based upon the pre and post energy consumption analysis completed at the time of HHA’s adoption of its Energy Performance Contract (EPC). The EPC provided many significant energy conservation measures which reduces energy consumption and energy costs overall for residents. The consumption data for each unit type is multiplied against the average utility rate to provide the utility allowance for each unit type.

Please note your cooking type (gas or electric), location (Stewart Homes or Scattered Sites), and bedroom unit size to see the impact of the proposed utility allowance changes for your unit.

2) Proposed HHA Public Housing FY 2020 Flat Rents (effective January 1, 2020)

HUD regulations at 24 CFR 960.253(a) require PHAs to annually give families the option to choose between paying the flat rent or the income-based rent, and stipulate that PHAs may not give families the option more than once per year, except in the case that the family has chosen the flat rent and experiences a financial hardship. Most HHA households choose to pay the income-based rent, and will not be impacted by the proposed required changes in flat rents.   Only a very small percentage of HHA households choose the flat rent option since the income-based rent is much more affordable for most households.

HHA is required to establish Flat Rents consistent
with HUD Notice PIH-2017-23 (HA) within 90 days of the release of new HUD Fair Market
Rents (FMR).HUD published new FMR’s on October 1, 2019.

After reviewing rent reasonable comparisons
in the Helena community, HHA is proposing the adoption of new flat rents consistently
across all applicable bedroom sizes for HHA’s low-rent public housing units.  These proposed flat rents are proposed at 80%
of FMR for the applicable bedroom size, the lowest level allowable under HUD
regulation.

1 Bedroom      $626.00

2
Bedroom      $795.00

3 Bedroom      $1084.00

4 Bedroom      $1,215.00

5 Bedroom      $1,397.00

For those
households in units that pay their own utilities, the applicable utility
allowance for utilities paid will be deducted from the flat rent amount for the
unit size as an adjustment for the actual rent paid. For those households in
units that HHA pays all utilities, the flat rent amount for the unit size will
be the actual rent paid.

The Board of Commissioners may choose to
adopt flat rents at 80% of FMR or above subject to market conditions.

ME Anderson residents’ who choose flat
rent, actual rent paid amount would be the flat rent for the applicable bedroom
size (80% FMR) since HHA pays utilities for those units.  All other public housing unit households’
flat rent option, actual rent paid amount would be the flat rent (80% FMR)
minus the applicable utility allowance (based on unit size, unit type, and
utility source) for that unit.  Please
contact your property manager to ask specific questions on how the new flat
rents might impact your rent choice.

The proposed flat rents if approved will be implemented as of January 1, 2020. The updated flat rent amounts will be offered at the next annual rent option for families that are current public housing residents, and permit the family to choose between the flat rent amount and the income-based rent.  Again most current HHA households select the income-based rent.

3) Proposed 2020 Helena Housing Authority (Local) Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)  Payment Standards (includes VASH, and PSH)

For the Housing Choice Voucher program, HUD permits HHA to set their payment standards for each unit size within the 90% - 110% range of the new Fair Market Rents (gross rent estimates) within 90 days of publication (October 1, 2019), then apply the new payment standards to all new admissions and to existing families at the next annual rent review. Public Housing Authorities (PHA) adopt payment standard schedules which establish the HCV, PSH, and VASH voucher payment standards amounts for each FMR area and unit size in the PHA jurisdiction. The proposed payment standards if approved will be implemented January 1, 2020 in the HHA local HCV, PSH, and VASH programs.

FINAL FY 2020 FMRS Lewis and Clark County https://www.huduser.gov/portal/datasets/fmr/fmrs/FY2020_code/2020summary.odn

HUD published new 2020 Fair Market Rents
on October 1, 2019.  After reviewing rent
reasonable comparisons and market conditions impacting the supply of affordable
units, HHA is proposing the adoption of Payment Standards at 110% of 2020 FMR’s
for all unit bedroom sizes.  The adoption
of these recommended payment standards will result in increases from the
current payment standard for all bedroom sizes.
In providing a maximum payment standard at 110% of FMRs, HCV program
participants will be able to afford a wider array of units in the area versus
establishing a lower percentage of FMR payment standards.  HCV program participants face challenges in
finding available units for rent within the program payment standards, with our
voucher placement rate being particularly low at our current payment standards.  Keep in mind that the payment standard
establishes the maximum amount available for combined rent and tenant paid
utilities (based on utility allowance) for a unit size.

Proposed HHA Local HCV Payment Standards 2019 (if approved implemented January 1, 2020)

0 Bedroom     $711.00           (110% FMR)                                    

1 Bedroom     $860.00           (110%
FMR)                                    

2 Bedroom     $1092.00         (110%
FMR)                                    

3 Bedroom     $1490.00         (110% FMR)                                    

4 Bedroom     $1669.00         (110% FMR)                                        

5 Bedroom     $1920.00         (110% FMR)                                       

6 Bedroom     $2169.00         (110% FMR)