HUD FACT SHEET - How Your Rent Is Determined

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

“How Your Rent Is

For Public Housing
Housing Choice Voucher Programs

Office of Public and Indian Housing
November, 2002

This Fact Sheet is a general guide to inform the Public Housing Agency (PHA) and HUD assisted residents of the responsibilities and rights regarding income disclosure and verification. Since some of the requirements vary by program, residents should consult their PHA to determine the specific policies that apply.

Why Determining Income and Family Payment Correctly is Important

The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s studies show that many resident families pay the incorrect amount of rent. The main causes of this problem are:

  • · under-reporting of income by resident families, and

  • · PHAs not granting exclusions and deductions to
    which resident families are entitled.

PHAs and residents all have a responsibility in ensuring that the correct family payment is paid. Paying the correct amount eliminates fraud, waste, and abuse.

PHAs’ Responsibilities:

  • · Obtain accurate income information

  • · Verify residents’ income

  • · Ensure that residents receive the exclusions and deductions to which they are entitled

  • · Accurately calculate family payment

  • · Recalculate family payment when changes in family composition and income are reported between annual recertifications (in accordance with PHA policy)

  • · In Public Housing, execute a le ase with the tenant

  • · In the Housing Choice Voucher program, provide a copy of the required lease language

  • · Provide tenant a copy of PHA determination of income and family payment

  • · Provide information on PHA policies upon request

  • · Notify residents of any changes in requirements or practices for reporting income or determining family payment

  • · Terminate tenancy for grounds allowed by federal law

Residents’ Responsibilities:

  • · Provide accurate information on family composition

  • · Report all income at admission and annually (or as required by PHA policy)

  • · Keep copies of papers, forms, and receipts which document income and expenses

  • · Report changes in family composition and income between annual recertifications (in accordance with Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher PHA policy)

  • · Sign consent for income verification and criminal history checks

  • · Comply with lease and House Rules

What is Total Income?
A family’s income before any taxes or other exclusions or deductions have been taken out of it.

What is Annual Income?

Total Income - Income Exclusions = Annual Income

What is Adjusted Income?

Annual Income - Allowable Income Deductions = Adjusted Income

Family Payment (Total Tenant Payment)
The amount of rent a family will pay is the highest of the following amounts:

  • · 30% of the family’s monthly adjusted income;

  • · 10% of the family’s monthly income;

  • · Welfare rent (in States where applicable); or

  • · Minimum Rent ($0 - $50 set by the PHA)

Annualization of Income
If it is not feasible to anticipate a level of income over a 12-month period (as in the case of seasonal or cyclic income), or the PHA believes that past income is the best available indicator of expected future income, the PHA may annualize the income anticipated for a shorter period, subject to a redetermination at the end of the shorter period.

What Counts as Annual Income for Calculation of Family Payment?

Annual income means all amounts, monetary or not, which:

  • · Go to, or on behalf of, the family head of household or spouse (even if temporarily absent) or to any other family member; or

  • · Are anticipated to be received from a source outside the family during the 12-month period following admission or annual reexamination effective date; and

  • · Which are not specifically excluded.

  • · Annual income also means amounts derived (during the 12-month period) from assets to which any member of the family has access.

Annual income includes, but is not limited to:

  • · The full amount, before any payroll deductions of wages and salaries, overtime pay,

  • Commissions, fees, tips and bonuses, and other compensation for personal services;

  • · The net income from the operation of a business or profession. Expenditures for business expansion or amortization of capital indebtedness shall not be used as deductions in determining net income. An allowance for

  • depreciation of assets used in a business or profession may be deducted, based on straight line depreciation, as provided in Internal Revenue Service regulations. Any withdrawal of cash or assets from the operation of a business or profession will be included in income, except to the extent the withdrawal is reimbursement of cash or assets invested in the operation by the family;

  • · Interest, dividends, and other net income of any kind from real or personal property. Expenditures for amortization of capital indebtedness shall not be used as deductions in determining net income. An allowance for depreciation is permitted only as authorized in above section. Any withdrawal of cash or assets from an investment will be included in income, except to the extent the withdrawal is reimbursement of cash or assets invested by the family. Where the family has net family assets in excess of $5,000, annual income shall include the greater of the actual income derived from all net family assets or a percentage of the value of such assets based on the current passbook savings rate, as determined by HUD;

  • · The full amount of periodic amounts received from Social Security, annuities, insurance policies, retirement funds, pensions, disability or death benefits, and other similar types of periodic receipts, including a lump-sum amount or prospective monthly amounts for the delayed start of a periodic amount.

  • Payments in place of earnings, such as unemployment and disability compensation, worker’s compensation and severance pay.

  • · Welfare assistance. If the welfare assistance payment includes an amount specifically designated for shelter and utilities that is subject to adjustment by the welfare assistance agency in accordance with the actual cost of shelter and utilities, the amount of welfare assistance income to be included as income shall consist of: (i) the amount of the allowance or grant exclusive of the amount specifically designated for shelter or utilities; plus (ii) the maximum amount that the welfare assistance agency could in fact allow the family for shelter and utilities.

  • · Periodic and determinable allowances, such as Alimony and child support payments, and regular contributions or gifts received from organizations or from persons not residing in the dwelling;

  • · All regular pay, special pay and allowances of a member of the Armed Forces.

Annual income does not include the following:

  • · Income from employment of children

  • (including foster children) under the age of l8

  • years;

  • · Payments received for the care of foster children or foster adults (usually persons with disabilities, unrelated to the tenant family, who are unable to live alone);

  • · Lump-sum additions to family assets, such as inheritances, insurance payments (including payments under health and accident insurance and worker’s compensation), capital gains and settlement for personal or property losses.

  • · Amounts received by the family that are specifically for, or in reimbursement of, the cost of medical expenses for any family member;

  • · Income of a live-in aide, as defined in §5.403;

  • · The full amount of student financial assistance paid directly to the student or to the educational institution;

  • · The special pay to a family member serving in the Armed Forces who is exposed to hostile fire;

  • · Amounts received under training programs funded by HUD:

  • · Amounts received by a person with a disability that are disregarded for a limited time purposes of Supplemental Security Income eligibility and benefits because they are set aside for use under a Plan to Attain Self-Sufficiency (PASS);

  • · Amounts received by a participant in other publicly assisted programs which are specifically for or in reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses incurred (special equipment, clothing, transportation, child care, etc.) and which are made solely to allow participation in a specific program;

  • · Amounts received under a resident service stipend. A resident service stipend is a modest amount (not to exceed $200 per month) received by a resident for performing a service for the PHA or owner, on a part-time basis, that enhances the quality of life in the development. Such services may include, but are not limited to, fire patrol, hall monitoring, lawn maintenance, resident initiatives coordination, and serving as a member of the PHA’s governing board. No resident may receive more than one such stipend during the same period of time;

  • · Incremental earnings and benefits resulting to any family member from participation in quality State or local employment training programs (including training programs not affiliated with a local government) and training of a family member as resident management staff. Amounts excluded by this provision must be received under employment training programs with clearly defined goals and objectives, and are excluded only for the period during which the family member participates in the employment training program;

  • · Temporary, nonrecurring or sporadic income (including gifts);

  • · Reparation payments paid by a foreign government pursuant to claims filed under the laws of that government by persons who were persecuted during the Nazi era;

  • · Earnings in excess of $480 for each full-time student 18 years old or older (excluding the head of household and spouse);

  • · Adoption assistance payments in excess of $480 per adopted child;

  • · Deferred periodic amounts from supplemental security benefits that are received in a lump sum amount or in prospective monthly amounts.

  • · Amounts received by the family in the form of refund or rebates under State or local law for property taxes paid on the dwelling unit;

  • · Amounts paid by a State agency to a family with a member who has a development disability and is living at home to offset the cost of services and equipment needed to keep the developmentally disabled family member at

  • home; or

  • · Amounts specifically excluded by any other Federal statute from consideration as income for purposes of determining eligibility or benefits under a category of assistance programs that includes assistance under any program to which the exclusions are set forth.

Other Income Exclusions
Federally Mandated Income Exclusions --
The following statutory exclusions apply to HUD assisted and other government programs:

  • · The value of the allotment provided under the Food Stamp Act of 1977.

  • · Payments to volunteers under the Domestic Volunteer Services Act of 1973

  • · Payments received under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (cash including cash dividends on stock received from a Native Corporation and on bonds received from a Native Corporation to the extent that it does not in the aggregate exceed $2,000 per individual per year)

  • · Income derived from certain submarginal land of the United States that is held in trust for certain Indian tribes

  • · Income Home Energy Assistance Program

  • · Payments received under programs funded under the Job Training Partnership Act (Workforce Investment Act of 1998)

  • · Income derived from the disposition of funds to the Grand River Band of Ottawa Indians. The first $2,000 of per capita shares received from judgment funds awarded by the Indian Claims Commission or the U.S. Claims Court, the interests of individual Indians in trust or restricted lands, including the first $2,000 per year of income received by individual Indians from funds derived from interests held in trust or restricted lands

  • · Amounts of scholarships funded under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (including Federal Work Study program or Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Student Assistance programs

  • · Payments received from programs funded under Title V of the Older Americans Act of 1985

  • · Payments received on or after January 1, 1989, from the Agent Orange Settlement Fund or any other fund established pursuant to the settlement in Re Agent-product liability

  • · Payments received under the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act of 1980

  • · The value of any child care provided or arranged under the Child Care and Development Block

  • Grant Act of 1990

  • · Earned income tax credit (EITC) refund payments received on or after January 1, 1991

  • · Payments by the Indian Claims Commission to the Confederated Tribes and Bands of Yakima Indian Nation or the Apache Tribe of Mescalero Reservation

  • · Allowances, earnings and payments to AmeriCorps participants under the National and Community Service Act of 1990

  • · Any allowance paid to a child suffering from spina bifida who is the child of a Vietnam veteran

  • · Any amount of crime victim compensation under the Victims of Crime Act

  • · Allowances, earnings and payments to individuals participating in programs under the Workforce Investment Act of 1998

Earned Income Disallowance for certain Public Housing Residents and Housing Choice Voucher Family members with Disabilities

Certain amounts will not be counted in determining a qualifying family’s rent for a specific period of time. A qualifying family is one whose annual income increases as a result of:

  • · Employment of a family member who was unemployed for at least 12 months prior to employment;
  • · New or increased earnings during participation in an economic self-sufficiency or other job training program;
  • · New or increased earnings during or within 6 months after receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).

During the first 12 months after a qualified family member starts working, 100 percent of the incremental increase of that family member’s income is disallowed. The incremental increase is the amount of earned income that exceeds that family member’s income prior to starting work.

In the second cumulative 12-month period after the date of first employment, 50 percent of the incremental increase in income is disallowed. Total time of benefit is limited to a lifetime 48-month period.

NOTE: For Public Housing Only, PHAs may offer to establish Individual Saving Accounts (ISA) for eligible families in place of the earned income disallowance. If offered, the family makes the choice whether or not to participate.

What are deductions from Income?
Deductions are amounts that are subtracted from a family’s Annual Income to produce Adjusted Income. There are two types of deductions: mandatory and permissive.

Mandatory Deductions:

  • · $480 for each member of the family (excluding head of household or spouse) who is less than 18 years of age or who is a student or person with a disability

  • · $400 for any elderly family or disabled family

  • · The sum of the following to the extent the sum exceeds 3% of annual family income:

    • - Unreimbursed medical expenses of any elderly family or disabled family

    • - Unreimbursed reasonable attendant care and auxiliary apparatus expenses for disabled family member(s) to allow family member(s) to work. This deduction may not exceed the income received.

  • · Any reasonable childcare expenses (children under 13 years old) necessary to enable a member of the family to be

  • employed or to further his or her education.

Permissive Deductions (Public Housing Only):
PHAs may establish other deductions as they wish but should understand that HUD does not provide any additional operating subsidy and the PHA must establish a written policy for the deductions.

Other Provisions
:Hardship Exceptions PHAs must waive the minimum monthly rent requirement for any family unable to pay due to financial hardships as described in the PHA’s written policies.

HUD has specified some circumstances that would constitute hardship which are:

  • · Switch from flat rent to income-based rent because of hardship.

  • · A family that is paying a flat rent may at any time request a switch to payment of incomebased rent (before the next annual option to select the type of rent) if the family is unable to pay flat rent because of financial hardship. The PHA must adopt written policies for determining when payment of flat rent is a financial hardship for the family.

  • · If the PHA determines that the family is unable to pay the flat rent because of financial hardship, the PHA must immediately allow the requested switch to income-based rent. ThePHA shall make the determination within a reasonable time after the family request.

  • · The PHA’s policies for determining when payment of a flat rent is a financial hardship must provide that financial hardship include the following situation.

  • · The family has experienced a decrease in income because of changed circumstances including loss or reduction of employment, death in the family, or reduction in or loss of earnings or other assistance;

  • · The family has experienced an increase in expenses, because of changed circumstances, for medical costs, child care, transportation, education, or similar items; and

  • · Such other situations determined by the PHA to be appropriate.

Maximum Initial Rent Burden (Housing Choice Voucher Only):
The family’s share may not exceed 40% of the family’s monthly adjusted income when the family initially moves into the unit or signs the first assisted lease for a unit. The maximum initial rent burden applies only when the gross rent for the unit selected exceeds the applicable payment standard.

Flat Rent (Public Housing Only): Annually at recertification families must be offered a choice of a flat rent or an income-based rent. If a family elects to pay a flat rent a PHA can (if desired) recertify family income as infrequent as every three (3) years instead of annually. Family composition must be recertified annually. Flat rent is based on the market rent charged for comparable units in the private unassisted rental market and will not increase or decrease as changes in income occur. A family can request a switch to an income-based rent at any time due to a financial hardship.

Welfare Sanctions: If the welfare agency reduce the welfare payment because of fraud of a family member in connection with the welfare program or non-compliance with economic self-sufficiency requirements, the PHA must still include the amount of the reduction in the Annual Income that is used to calculate total tenant payment.

Reference Materials

· United States Housing Act of 1937, 42 USC 1437, et seq. as amended

· General HUD Program Requirements; Waivers, 24 CFR Part 5
· Admissions to, and Occupancy of, Public Housing, 24 CFR Part 960
· Section 8 Tenant-Based Assistance: Housing Choice Voucher Program, 24 CFR Part 982
· Determining Adjusted Income in HUD Programs Serving Persons with Disabilities:
Requiring Mandatory Deductions for Certain Expenses; and Disallowance for Earned Income, 66 FR 6218, issued January 19, 2001; 24 CFR Parts 5, 92, et al. (effective April 20, 2001)

· “Federally Mandated Income Exclusions” Notice 66 FR 4669, April 20, 2001
· “Improving Income Integrity in Public and Assisted Housing” Notice PIH 2001-15, issued May 2, 2001
· Frequently Asked Questions about the
Admissions and Occupancy Rule:

For Additional Information:
Contact your Public Housing Authority (PHA) in your area. In addition, you can find information about HUD’s programs on HUD’s Internet homepage at or call the Public and Indian Housing Information Resource Center at 1-800-955-2232.