published Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Housing voucher payments changing in Chattanooga

2012 Small Area Fair Market Rent

ZIP code areas -- 2 bedroom

37302, 37404, 37411 -- $759

37308, 37311, 37315, 37350 -- $740

37401, 37414, 37422, 37424, 37450 -- $740

37336, 37419 -- $737

37341 -- $970

37343, 37377 -- $790

37351 -- $830

37353, 37373, 37409, 37415 -- $720

37363, 37416, 37421 -- $800

37379, 37407 -- $770

37402, 37403, 37408 -- $660

37405 -- $760

37406 -- $693

37410 -- $671

37412 -- $730

Note: Under the previous 2012 voucher payment standard, all 2-bedroom units received $628 in rent.

Source: Chattanooga Housing Authority

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Most Housing Choice Voucher program landlords who sign new leases through the Chattanooga Housing Authority now will receive more rent money because of the authority's participation in a federal program to determine fair-market rent.

Edward Thrasher, a property owner in the program for more than 20 years, said he looks forward to the change.

"Before it didn't matter if you had three houses in East Chattanooga or three houses on Highway 58," he said. "Now it makes a difference, and they're [the authority] going to have better houses on their availability list."

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development asked the authority to participate in the Small Area Fair Market Rent demonstration program this year.

The purpose is to provide Housing Choice Voucher residents with access to a broader range of neighborhoods, allowing them to move into areas with more employment, transportation and educational opportunities, according to HUD.

Instead of having a one size-fits-all payment standard according to the number of bedrooms in a home, housing authority officials will consider where the home is located when issuing rent payments.

The authority will have 14 payment amounts based on ZIP codes.

All landlords with two- to six-bedroom apartments who sign new leases will benefit from the higher rent payments, but landlords of efficiency apartments in ZIP codes 37402, 37403, 37408, 37406 and 37410 will have a decrease in rent payments. Landlords of one-bedroom units in the 37402, 37403 and 37408 ZIP code areas also will see a decrease.

None of the decreases in payments will take effect until 2014, housing authority officials said.

An efficiency apartment rented for $504 under the former 2012 voucher payment standards. Under the Small Area Fair Market Rent program, an efficiency in the 37410 ZIP code will rent for $451.

Landlords signing new leases for two-bedroom apartments in the 37341 ZIP code, for example, will receive payment increases of $342 a month from $628 to $970, according to CHA records.

The housing authority will receive up to $66,205 in administrative fees to help it convert to the program.

Tenants will not have rent increases as a result of the changes, said Tammie Reeves, the authority's Housing Choice Voucher program director.

Landlords renewing leases in cases where the resident remains in the same home will have to apply to receive a rent increase, she said.

Authority board members in September approved implementing the new payment standard effective Monday.

Reeves said officials hope the rent increases will encourage more landlords to participate in the Housing Choice Voucher program. The agency lost landlords earlier this year after implementing a 14 percent reduction in rent payments, she said

Officials said about 125 people with vouchers now cannot find homes.

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at yputman@timesfreepress.com or call 423-757-6431.

about Yolanda Putman...

Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...

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