Although the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program is a federally funded program, states such as Texas and local Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) have a the freedom to create program rules and expand the program in a variety of ways. Additionally, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) often grants money to state departments and local PHAs for new, special programs that target local housing needs. Below, you will find just a few of the many recent laws and expansions of Section 8 in Texas.

Small Area Fair Market Rent (SAFMR): HUD recently announced this new approach to the HCV program for families living in certain areas that have limited rental unit options. Three of the 24 housing areas targeted for the program are located in Texas, including:

  • Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX Metro Division
  • Fort Worth-Arlington, TX HUD Metro FMR Area
  • San-Antonio-New Braunfels, TX HUD Metro FMR Area

In order to expand housing options for residents in these areas, the SAFMR program uses a housing unit’s zip code, rather than the usual metropolitan area-wide approach, when calculating an area’s Fair Market Rent (FMR). The program will provide these families with more housing opportunities in lower poverty neighborhoods.

Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program: HUD recently granted additional housing funds to the states of Louisiana, Texas and West Virginia in order to help residents recover from recent flooding disasters. Households in three Texas counties experienced flood damage or destruction. Through the CDBG-DR program, HUD awarded over $45 million to the state of Texas.

Resident Opportunities and Self Sufficiency – Service Coordinators (ROSS-SC) Program: Through this program, HUD recently awarded Texas PHAs and related nonprofit organizations over $1.5 million in additional housing assistance grants. These grants help public housing beneficiaries, including Section 8 voucher holders, to achieve self-sufficiency and economic independence through education, computer and financial literacy programs, job training and job placement.

Community Assistance Reporting Tool (CART): HUD launched a free online resource, CART, that helps Section 8 applicants and voucher holders. The online community investment tool provides maps and information about HUD’s involvement in a given location. Among other information, CART users can find out more about Housing Choice Vouchers in their communities.

HUD’s Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Guidance: While the Fair Housing Act (FHA) protects many classes of individuals from housing discrimination, the act does not explicitly protect people with Limited English Proficiency (LEP), who make up nine percent of the U.S. population. HUD recently produced LEP guidance that explains how LEP individuals and households should be protected under the FHA’s “national origin” protection provision.

Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) Expansion: FSS services help residents and families develop economic independence. HUD typically offers FSS services through public agencies to individuals living in assisted housing. The new FSS expansion allows the owners of multi-family privately owned apartment buildings that are under Section 8 contract to offer their own FSS programs. These owners may use approved HUD funding to implement the program.