GHURA raises Section 8 subsidy in competitive rent market

GHURA: A client is seen by staff at the Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority entrance in Sinajana in February. Post file photo

The board of commissioners at the Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority last week approved fiscal year 2022 payment standards for Section 8 rental assistance. 

The approval comes with certain increases in the maximum subsidy schedule used to calculate rental assistance for Section 8 voucher participants, the agency stated in a press release. 

A GHURA study revealed that past years’ fair market rent was lagging and edging Section 8 voucher holders out of the rental market, GHURA stated in its release. 

As a result of the study, the approved fiscal 2022 payment standards have increased, according to GHURA, by:

• $731 a month for a four-bedroom unit; and

• $516 a month for a three-bedroom unit, as compared to fiscal 2019.

Payment standards for reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities, the agency stated, have increased by:

• $798 a month for a four-bedroom unit; and

• $677 a month for a three-bedroom unit.

At the same meeting, the board also approved increases of 8% to 10% for utility allowances for Section 8 tenants, to include electricity and water rates, and 3% for bottled gas.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires an annual assessment of the fair market rent to make adjustments to payment standards, GHURA stated. 

"By making adjustments, it would ensure Section 8 participants find a home to rent out in a very competitive rental market. The new payment standard rates will be applied to newly admitted participants and those executing new contracts," the agency stated in the release.

GHURA Executive Director Ray Topasna said the agency recognizes it has to be competitive in a market "highly influenced by our military friends who prefer to live in our communities." 

GHURA's operating/administrative budget has increased by $29 million, as compared to fiscal 2019, and for Section 8 alone by $7 million, Topasna stated in the release.

GHURA is funded primarily with federal housing funds.

"We encourage all landlords to consider renting to a Section 8 tenant. At the onset of the pandemic up until today, we’ve paid landlords on time and we are committed to ensuring that our track record of on-time performance continues," he added.

HUD funds GHURA housing programs

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is the chief funding source for GHURA’s housing programs, with a total grant of $42.9 million in fiscal 2019.

Of that amount:

• $30.2 million funded the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, which benefited more than 2,600 households.

• $3.9 million funded the Low Income Housing Program.

• $2.1 million went to the Public Housing Capital Fund.

• $1 million went to the HOME Investment Partnerships Program.

• $897,000 went to GHURA's Continuum of Care Program.

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