Information for Voucher Holders

Coming April 1: Small Area FMRs

Effective April 1, 2018, Fort Worth Housing Solutions (FWHS) will begin using Small Area Fair Market Rents (SAFMRs) to calculate rental assistance in the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program.

What are SAFMRs?
SAFMR stands for “Small Area Fair Market Rent.” SAFMRs are typical rent levels (including utilities except telephone and cable) within a zip code depending upon the number of bedrooms. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) determines these rent levels (SAFMRs) annually.

What’s new about this approach?
Until now, rental assistance for families with vouchers was based on a single rent level for an entire metropolitan area. Under the new approach, every zip code will have its own rent level. The rent level in each zip code will determine the amount of assistance families with vouchers will be eligible to receive.

What are Payment Standards?
Payment Standards are used to calculate the maximum subsidy that FWHS will pay for a rental unit. Voucher holders are generally required to pay 30 percent of their adjusted monthly income for rent and utilities. FWHS then pays the difference between what voucher holders pay and either (a) the Payment Standard or (b) the gross rent (rent plus estimated utilities) of the unit, whichever is lower. Effective April 1 FWHS will use a different Payment Standard for each ZIP code in its jurisdiction.

Click here to see the new Payment Standards.

How are voucher holders affected?
Families with vouchers will still be able to choose the unit that meets their needs (subject to FWHS requirements). They will continue to pay generally 30 percent of their adjusted monthly income for rent and utilities. However, beginning April 1 they will be able to use their vouchers in neighborhoods that in the past may have been too expensive. These are neighborhoods with less poverty, easier access to grocery stores, parks and other amenities and maybe even higher-performing schools.

If a family chooses to use its voucher in a high-opportunity neighborhood where rents may be higher, it will likely receive more assistance toward rent and utilities. If a family chooses a neighborhood where rents are low, it may receive a lower subsidy. FWHS hopes that voucher holders will take advantage of this new opportunity to live in neighborhoods that offer the greatest benefits.

Which programs are affected by SAFMRs?
SAFMRs apply to all tenant-based vouchers in the Housing Choice Voucher Program, including special purpose vouchers such as Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD- VASH) program and Family Unification Program (FUP), and special housing types such as Single Room Occupancy (SROs) and home ownership vouchers. SAFMRs do not apply to HOME tenant-based rental assistance, Continuum of Care Rental Assistance, and some locally funded programs such as Directions Home. These programs will continue to use the Metropolitan Area Fair Market Rents. Additionally, FWHS has chosen not to apply SAFMRs to the Project-Based Voucher Program.

How can a voucher holder determine what is affordable?
Because payment standards will vary across FWHS’s jurisdiction, voucher holders may benefit from various tools to help them determine if they can afford the rent in a particular zip code. Click here to use an affordability calculator, and click here for the instructions. Click here for a map to see the new Payment Standards for each zip code.

What do landlords need to know about SAFMRs?
Click here for information for current and prospective landlords.