The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced that it will no longer move forward with proposed regulatory changes to the HUD housing voucher program that threatened to limit access to affordable housing in Columbia and in the region. As reported in The Baltimore Sun:
The agency will keep Columbia’s current rent limits in place for one year as HUD considers options for how it will set rent limits in the future. The rent limits determine the level of assistance received by Housing Choice Voucher recipients, who pay about a third of their income toward rent, with HUD picking up the rest, up to those caps.
As part of an annual update to its voucher program, also known as Section 8, HUD had proposed to apply metro-wide rent limits to the affluent community, ending a longtime practice of treating Columbia as a distinct housing market.
The proposal would have cut rent limits in Columbia by about 25 percent. About 950 Housing Choice Voucher recipients live in Columbia; they make up about 80 percent of the voucher holders in the county, according to county housing commission data from June.
The agreement to grant an exception to Columbia came a day before the 30-day comment period on the fair market rents for the current federal fiscal year was set to close and after Mikulski and other members of the Maryland delegation met with HUD Secretary Julian Castro.