The Uses of Discretionary Authority in the Public Housing Program: A Baseline Inventory of Issues, Policy, and Practice

Release Date: 

  • July 1999 (36 pages)

Posted Date:   

  • July 1, 1999
 
 
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During the past decade U.S. public housing agencies (PHAs) have gained much greater discretionary authority over many aspects of their public housing programs. The seeds of this change were sown in the 1990s by revamped laws, which culminated in the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act (QHWRA) of 1998. The Uses of Discretionary Authority in the Public Housing Program: A Baseline Inventory of Issues, Policy, and Practice, published by HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research, is a systematic record of how PHAs have responded to their increased discretion. It particularly explains PHA priorities in three areas: selecting tenants, creating income incentives, and setting rents.

The report shows how PHAs are making broad use of their discretionary authority in these three areas. Key findings include: almost 60 percent of PHAs have dropped the Federal tenant preferences associated with various hardships; only about 10 percent of PHAs have implemented optional income disregards for working households; however, a higher percentage of PHAs delay interim examinations when tenant income rises; and about 50 percent of PHAs have established a $50 minimum rent for all households, the highest amount allowed. Extra-large PHAs, according to the report, do not always conform to expectations. For example, the larger the PHA, the smaller the chance that it will admit new residents on the basis only of preferences not related to hardships.


 

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