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Tenant advocates can download this from the Publications/Guidebooks Page.
Because of the unique structure of the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, an increase in the utility allowance to offset tenant-paid utility costs when rates go up may not provide immediate financial benefit to all tenants in the voucher program. Voucher tenants receive no dollar benefit from increased allowances once the sum of the total rent paid to the owner plus the utility allowance exceeds the payment standard. Households will only benefit where the gross rent — including the utility allowance — is less than the payment standard. As a result, it is often necessary for advocates to seek simultaneous increases in the utility allowance and the payment standard. This document, prepared by Mike Hanley at the Empire Justice Center, explains and demonstrates why.
The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (ARRA) provided unprecedented funding for improving the energy efficiency of housing serving low-income families. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD's) Green Retrofit Program (GRP) for Multifamily Housing will provide $250 million in grants and loans for building rehabilitation that will reduce utility costs, improve tenant health and provide other environmental benefits. This article describes in detail the Notice HUD recently published to implement the GRP program.
Many federally assisted tenants throughout the country are being overcharged for rent because their utility allowances are too low. NHLP has developed a pamphlet regarding utility allowances in federally subsidized housing. Designed for tenant leaders, this pamphlet provides a basic overview of how utility allowances work. It will help your clients identify whether there is a problem with the allowances and, if so, how they can seek assistance from housing advocates and attorneys. Please feel free to reproduce this pamphlet and distribute it widely.
Illegally inadequate utility allowances mean that tenants have been overpaying rent for the entire period that the allowance has been improperly set. In many jurisdictions, evictions for nonpayment of rent must be predicated upon a notice setting forth the amount of rent due. If the amount is incorrect as a result of the tenant’s overpayments due to inadequate utility allowances, advocates can challenge the amount due via an affirmative defense or motion to dismiss. This sample motion to dismiss alleges that the eviction notice demands rent in excess of the amount due because the defendant failed to properly adjust its utility allowances.
Information gathering is one of the first steps in determining whether utility allowances are adequate. These files provide two sample public records requests: (1) a short request seeking all utility allowance schedules used by a housing authority and all documentation supporting the schedules; and (2) a long request that is more detailed and technical, which includes a request for information
In 2008, NHLP obtained data on utility allowances from many Northern California PHAs for their public housing and voucher programs back to 2003. These files (password protected) contain the results of that analysis. For further information, please contact NHLP