New subsidized housing rules will be adopted by housing providers in 2024 — but they need to give you notice and a new lease first.
Do you have a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, or live in an apartment with subsidized rent? The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) made several big changes to the subsidized housing rules. These rules change who is eligible for subsidized housing. They also change how a rental subsidy is calculated.
HUD wrote these rules to implement a law called the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016 (HOTMA). HOTMA made a lot of changes to the rules for subsidized housing, but this page will only summarize a few important rules. This information will be updated as HUD releases more guidance on how these changes affect applicants and tenants.
These new rules go into effect January 1, 2024. However, you may not see any changes for many months. This is because subsidized housing providers must update their policies, issue new leases, and give plenty of notice to tenants before they are affected by the new rules.
How they will figure out your income
If you are applying for subsidized housing, the new rules say housing providers may use income eligibility standards for other benefit programs to confirm your eligibility. They may look to see if you already get WIC, SSI, SNAP or Medicaid.
If you are already a tenant in subsidized housing, you must remain income-eligible to get the rental subsidy. If you earn too much income, you are considered “over-income” and not eligible for a subsidy. You are considered over-income if you earn about 120% of the area median income (AMI) in your county. Look for your county and 120% on this chart.
Some types of income are not counted towards the limit. For example:
- “non-reoccurring income,” like cash gifts for special occasions,
- certain types of student aid
- civil rights settlements or civil action judgements, or
If you are over-income for 24 months in a row, your housing provider may evict you because you are not eligible for subsidized housing. Your housing provider may also allow you to stay in the unit. Whether you can stay in the unit depends on your housing provider’s written policies. If your housing provider lets you stay in the unit, you must sign a new lease and pay a higher rent. You will not be considered a subsidized tenant.
Your housing provider needs to give you written notice if they:
- decide you are over the income limit
- decide that your rent will go up, or
- decide you must leave the unit.
You will have the right to appeal any decision about being over the income limit.
How they will look at your assets and real estate
With the new rules, you may not be eligible for subsidized housing if:
- your family owns over $100,000 in countable net family assets, or
- you own a home that is suitable to live in.
Assets are things that you own. “Net family assets” means the net cash value of all your owned assets, after deducting reasonable costs needed to sell the property or assets. It also includes the value of savings accounts, stocks, bonds, and other financial assets.
Retirement accounts, like an IRA or 401k, do not count towards the asset limit. Necessary items of personal property, like medical devices and your primary car, do not count towards the asset limit. Non-necessary items of personal property (coin or baseball card collections, artwork, or recreational vehicles) will not count towards the asset limit if the combined total value of all non-necessary items is less than $50,000.
Do you own a home and have the right to sell it? If your home is suitable to live in, you are not eligible for subsidized housing. However, there are exceptions. This rule does not apply:
- to a family that gets assistance under the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program for manufactured homes or gets help purchasing a home with mortgage assistance
- to property jointly owned with someone else not in your household and occupied by that person
- if a member of your household is a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, or
- if you are selling the property.
If the property is not suitable for occupancy, it can be excluded from this rule. For example, it can be excluded if:
- the home cannot meet the disability-related needs of your family,
- it is too small for the size of your household, or
- the location of the property is a hardship (too far from work or school).
New rules also include the income you get from your assets, such as interest or rental income. If your assets generate countable income, all the income from each asset will count for the purposes of eligibility. If your assets generate income, but you cannot calculate that income, your housing provider may impute (estimate) the income from those assets.
We will add more to this page as information becomes available. Follow this link for more detailed information from HUD about the new rules.