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Proposed Rule

Fair Market Rents for the Housing Choice Voucher Program and Moderate Rehabilitation Single Room Occupancy Program-Fiscal Year 2001

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Office of the Secretary, HUD.


Notice of Proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2001 Fair Market Rents (FMRs).


Section 8(c)(1) of the United States Housing Act of 1937 requires the Secretary to publish FMRs annually to be effective on October 1 of each year. FMRs are used for the Housing Choice Voucher program, the Moderate Rehabilitation Single Room Occupancy program, the project-based voucher program, and any other programs requiring their use. Today's notice proposes revised FMRs that reflect estimated 40th percentile rent levels trended to April 1, 2001.


Comments Due Date: June 27, 2000.


Interested persons are invited to submit comments regarding HUD's estimates of the FMRs as published in this Notice to the Office of the General Counsel, Rules Docket Clerk, Room 10276, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 Seventh Street SW, Washington, DC 20410. Communications should refer to the above docket number and title and should contain the information specified in the “Request for Comments” section. To ensure that the information is fully considered by all of the reviewers, each commenter is requested to submit two copies of its comments, one to the Rules Docket Clerk and the other to the Economic and Market Analysis Staff in the appropriate HUD Field Office. A copy of each communication submitted will be available for public inspection and copying during regular business hours (7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Eastern Time) at the above address.

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Gerald Benoit, Operations Division, Office of Rental Assistance, telephone (202) 708-0477. For technical information on the development of schedules for specific areas or the method used for the rent calculations, contact Alan Fox, Economic and Market Analysis Division, Office of Economic Affairs, telephone (202) 708-0590, Extension 5863 (e-mail: Hearing- or speech-impaired persons may use the Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TTY) by contacting the Federal Information Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339. (Other than the “800” TTY number, telephone numbers are not toll free.)

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Section 8 of the United States Housing Act of 1937 (the Act) (42 U.S.C. 1437f) authorizes housing assistance to aid lower income families in renting decent, safe, and sanitary housing. Housing assistance payments are limited by FMRs established by HUD for different areas. In the voucher program, the FMR is used to determine the “payment standard” (the maximum monthly subsidy) for assisted families (see Section 982.503.) In general, the FMR for an area is the amount that would be needed to pay the gross rent (shelter rent plus utilities) of privately owned, decent, safe, and sanitary rental housing of a modest (non-luxury) nature with suitable amenities.

Publication of FMRs

Section 8(c) of the Act requires the Secretary of HUD to publish FMRs periodically, but not less frequently than annually. The Department's regulations provide that HUD will develop FMRs by publishing proposed FMRs for public comment and, after evaluating the public comments, publish the final FMRs (see 24 CFR 888.115). Schedule B of the proposed FY 2001 FMR schedules at the end of this document lists the FMR levels for the housing choice voucher program. Schedule D lists FMRs for the rental of manufactured home spaces in the housing choice voucher program for areas where HUD has approved modifications greater than 40 percent of the 2-bedroom FMR, based on public comments.

Method Used To Develop FMRs

FMR Standard: FMRs are gross rent estimates; they include shelter rent and the cost of utilities, except telephone. HUD sets FMRs to assure that a sufficient supply of rental housing is available to program participants. To accomplish this objective, FMRs must be both high enough to permit a selection of units and neighborhoods and low enough to serve as many families as possible. The level at which FMRs are set is expressed as a percentile point within the rent distribution of standard quality rental housing units. The current definition used is the 40th percentile rent, the dollar amount below which 40 percent of the standard quality rental housing units rent. The 40th percentile rent is drawn from the distribution of rents of units which are occupied by recent movers (renter households who moved into their unit within the past 15 months). Newly built units less than two years old are excluded, and adjustments have been made to correct for the below market rents of public housing units included in the data base.

Data Sources: HUD used the most accurate and current data available to develop the FMR estimates. The sources of survey data used for the base-year estimates are:

(1) the 1990 Census, which provides statistically reliable rent data for all FMR areas;

(2) the Bureau of the Census' American Housing Surveys (AHSs), which are used to develop between-Census revisions for the largest metropolitan areas and which have accuracy comparable to the decennial Census; and

(3) Random Digit Dialing (RDD) telephone surveys of individual FMR areas, which are based on a sampling procedure that uses computers to select statistically random samples of rental housing.

The base-year FMRs are updated using trending factors based on Consumer Price Index (CPI) data for rents and utilities or HUD regional rent change factors developed from RDD surveys. Annual average CPI data are available individually for 96 metropolitan FMR areas. RDD regional rent change factors are developed annually for the metropolitan and nonmetropolitan parts of each of the 10 HUD regions. The RDD factors are used to update the base year estimates for all FMR areas that do not have their own local CPI survey.

State Minimum FMRs: FMRs are established at the higher of the local 40th percentile rent level or the Statewide average of nonmetropolitan counties, subject to a ceiling rent cap. The State minimum also affects a small number of metropolitan areas whose rents would otherwise fall below the State minimum.

Bedroom Size Adjustments: FMRs have been calculated separately for each bedroom size category. For areas whose FMRs are based on the State minimums, the rents for each bedroom size are the higher of the rent for the area or the Statewide average of nonmetropolitan counties for that bedroom size. For all other FMR areas, the bedroom intervals are based on data for the specific area. Exceptions have been made for some areas with local bedroom size rent intervals below an acceptable range. For those areas the intervals selected were the minimums determined after outliers had been excluded from the distribution Start Printed Page 25173of bedroom intervals for all metropolitan areas. Higher ratios continue to be used for three-bedroom and larger size units than would result from using the actual market relationships. This is done to assist the largest, most difficult to house families in finding program-eligible units.

RDD Surveys: RDD surveys are used to obtain statistically-reliable FMR estimates for selected FMR areas. This survey technique involves drawing random samples of renter units occupied by recent movers. RDD surveys exclude public housing units, other assisted units for which the market rent cannot be determined, units built in the past two years, seasonal units, non-cash rental units, and those owned by relatives. A HUD analysis has shown that the slight downward RDD survey bias caused by including some rental units that are in substandard condition is almost exactly offset by the slight upward bias that results from surveying only units with telephones.

Approximately 8,000-12,000 telephone numbers need to be contacted to achieve the target survey sample level of 200 eligible recent mover responses. RDD surveys have a high degree of statistical accuracy; there is a 95 percent likelihood that the recent mover rent estimates developed using this approach are within 3 to 4 percent of the actual rent value. Virtually all of the estimates are within 5 percent of the actual value.

Today's notice proposes FMRs based on RDD surveys conducted in early-2000 for the following areas:

Proposed FMR Increase Above Normal Update Factor

Fort Smith, AR-OK

Orange County, CA

Jacksonville, FL

Atlanta, GA

Augusta-Aiken, GA-SC

Muscatine County, IA

Montgomery County, IN

Macon County, MO

Montgomery County, MO

Biloxi-Gulfport-Pascagoula, MS

Jackson, MS

Greenville, NC

Pender County, NC

Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, NC

Defiance County, OH

Henry County, OH

Williams County, OH

Youngstown-Warren, OH

Austin-San Marcos, TX

Proposed FMR Decrease

Lake Charles, LA

Springfield, MA

Utica-Rome, NY

Providence-Fall River-Warwick, RI-MA

Brownsville-Harlingen-San Benito, TX

Proposed FMR Increase by Normal Update Factor

Imperial County, CA

Salinas, CA

Washington, DC-MD-VA

Macon, GA

Indianapolis, IN

Lexington, KY

Monroe, LA

Shreveport-Bossier City, LA

Lowell, MA-NH

Lewis County, MO

Marion County, MO

Monroe County, MO

Pike County, MO

Ralls County, MO

Randolph County, MO

Shelby County, MO

Lincoln, NE

Atlantic-Cape May, NJ

Cleveland-Lorain-Elyria, OH

Toledo, OH

Columbia, SC

Johnson City-Kingsport-Bristol, TN-VA

Nashville, TN

Fort Worth-Arlington, TX

Killeen-Temple, TX

AHS Areas: AHSs cover the largest metropolitan areas on a four-year cycle. The 40th percentile rents for these areas are calculated from the distributions of two-bedroom units occupied by recent movers. Public housing units, newly constructed units, and units that fail a housing quality test are excluded from the rental housing distributions before the FMRs are calculated.

Detailed rent data from the metropolitan AHSs conducted in 1998 were not available in time for publication of the proposed 2000 FMRs. Twelve AHS areas were put into final effect in the October 1,1999 publication, because they had either increases or normal updates. Providence-Fall River-Warwick, RI-MA and Washington, DC-MD-VA would have been proposed for decreases based on the 1998 AHS data, but HUD conducted RDDs in April 2000, with the result that the decrease being proposed for Providence-Fall River-Warwick is much less than it would have been, and no decrease is being proposed for Washington, DC-MD-VA.

Manufactured Home Space FMRs

FMRs for the rental of manufactured home spaces in the housing choice voucher program are now 40 percent of the applicable Section 8 existing housing program FMRs for two-bedroom units. (This percentage was recently increased from 30 percent to 40 percent because the cost of utilities is now included in the manufactured home space rent; Section 545 of the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998.) HUD accepts public comments requesting modifications of these FMRs where the 40 percent FMRs are thought to be inadequate. In order to be accepted as a basis for revising the FMRs, comments must contain statistically valid survey data that show the 40th percentile space rent (including the cost of utilities) for the entire FMR area. Manufactured home space FMR revisions are published as final FMRs in Schedule D. Once approved, the revised manufactured home space FMRs establish new base year estimates that are updated annually using the same data used to update the other FMRs, until they are superseded by rising FMRs for the regular housing choice voucher program.

Request for Comments

HUD seeks public comments on FMR levels for specific areas. Comments on FMR levels must include sufficient information (including local data and a full description of the rental housing survey methodology used) to justify any proposed changes. Changes may be proposed in all or any one or more of the bedroom-size categories on the schedule. Recommendations and supporting data must reflect the rent levels that exist within the entire FMR area.

HUD recommends the use of professionally-conducted Random Digit Dialing (RDD) telephone surveys to test the accuracy of FMRs for areas where there is a sufficient number of Section 8 units to justify the survey cost of $10,000-$12,000. Areas with 500 or more program units usually meet this cost criterion, and areas with fewer units may meet it if actual two-bedroom rents are significantly different from the FMRs proposed by HUD. In addition, HUD has developed a version of the RDD survey methodology for smaller, nonmetropolitan PHAs. This methodology is designed to be simple enough to be done by the PHA itself, rather than by professional survey organizations, at a cost of $5,000 or less.

PHAs in nonmetropolitan areas may, in certain circumstances, do surveys of groups of counties. All grouped county surveys must be approved in advance by HUD. PHAs are cautioned that the resulting FMRs will not be identical for the counties surveyed; each individual FMR area will have a separate FMR based on the relationship of rents in that area to the combined rents in the cluster of FMR areas. In addition, PHAs are advised that counties whose FMRs are based on the State minimum will not have their FMRs revised unless the grouped survey results show a revised FMR above the State minimum level. Start Printed Page 25174

PHAs that plan to use the RDD survey technique should obtain a copy of the appropriate survey guide. Larger PHAs should request HUD's survey guide entitled “Random Digit Dialing Surveys; A Guide to Assist Larger Public Housing Agencies in Preparing Fair Market Rent Comments.” Smaller PHAs should obtain a guide entitled “Rental Housing Surveys; A Guide to Assist Smaller Public Housing Agencies in Preparing Fair Market Rent Comments.” These guides are available from HUD USER on 1-800-245-2691, or from HUD's Worldwide Web site, in Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat format, at the following address:​datasets/​fmr.html.

HUD prefers, but does not mandate, the use of RDD telephone surveys, or the more traditional method described in the survey guide intended for small PHAs along with the simplified RDD methodology. Other survey methodologies are acceptable as long as the surveys submitted provide statistically reliable, unbiased estimates of the 40th percentile gross rent. Survey samples should preferably be randomly drawn from a complete list of rental units for the FMR area. If this is not feasible, the selected sample must be drawn so as to be statistically representative of the entire rental housing stock of the FMR area. In particular, surveys must include units of all rent levels and be representative by structure type (including single-family, duplex and other small rental properties), age of housing unit, and geographic location. The decennial Census should be used as a starting point and means to verify whether the sample is representative of the FMR area's rental housing stock.

Local rental housing surveys conducted with alternative methods must include the following documentation:

—Identification of the 40th percentile gross rent (gross rent is rent including the cost of utilities) and the actual distribution (or distributions, if more than one bedroom size is surveyed) of the surveyed units, rank-ordered by gross rent.

—An explanation of how the rental housing sample was drawn and a copy of the survey questionnaire, transmittal letter, and any publicity materials.

—An explanation of how the contract rents of the individual units surveyed were converted to gross rents. (For RDD-type surveys, HUD requires use of the Section 8 utility allowance schedule.)

—An explanation of how the survey excluded units built within two years prior to the survey date.

—The date the rent data were collected so that HUD can apply a trending factor to update the estimate to the midpoint of the applicable fiscal year. If the survey has already been trended to this date, the date the survey was conducted and a description of the trending factor used.

—Copies of all survey sheets.

Since FMRs are based on standard quality units and units occupied by recent movers, both of which are difficult to identify and survey, HUD will accept surveys of all rental units and apply appropriate adjustments.

Most surveys cover only one- and two-bedroom units, in which case HUD will make the adjustments for other size units consistent with the differentials established on the basis of the 1990 Census data for the FMR area. When three- and four-bedroom units are surveyed separately to determine FMRs for these unit size categories, the commenter should multiply the 40th percentile survey rents by 1.087 and 1.077, respectively, to determine the FMRs. The use of these factors will produce the same upward adjustments in the rent differentials as those used in the HUD methodology.

Findings and Certifications

Environmental Impact

A Finding of No Significant Impact with respect to the environment as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321-4374) is unnecessary, since the housing choice voucher program is categorically excluded from the Department's National Environmental Policy Act procedures under 24 CFR 50.19(c)(d).

Regulatory Flexibility Act

The undersigned, in accordance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 605(b)), hereby certifies that this Notice does not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, because FMRs do not change the rent from that which would be charged if the unit were not in the program.

Executive Order 13132, Federalism

This notice does not have federalism implications and will not involve the preemption of State law by Federal statute or regulation. The Fair Market Rent schedules do not have any substantial direct impact on States, on the relationship between the Federal government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibility among the various levels of government.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance

The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance program number is 14.156, Lower-Income Housing Assistance Program (section 8).

Accordingly, the Fair Market Rent Schedules, which will be codified in 24 CFR part 888, are proposed to be amended as follows:

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Dated: April 21, 2000.

Andrew Cuomo,


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Fair Market Rents for the Housing Choice Voucher Program

Schedules B and D—General Explanatory Notes

1. Geographic Coverage

a. Metropolitan Areas.—FMRs are housing market-wide rent estimates that are intended to provide housing opportunities throughout the geographic area in which rental housing units are in direct competition. The FMRs shown in Schedule B are determined for the same areas as the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) most current definitions of metropolitan areas, with the exceptions discussed in paragraph b. HUD uses the OMB Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) and Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area (PMSA) definitions for FMR areas because they closely correspond to housing market area definitions.

b. Exceptions to OMB Definitions.—The exceptions are counties deleted from several large metropolitan areas whose revised OMB metropolitan area definitions were determined by HUD to be larger than the housing market areas. The FMRs for the following counties (shown by the metropolitan area) are calculated separately and are shown in Schedule B within their respective States under the “Metropolitan FMR Areas” listing:

Metropolitan Area and Counties Deleted

Chicago, IL: DeKalb, Grundy and Kendall Counties

Cincinnati-Hamilton, OH-KY-IN:

Brown County, Ohio; Gallatin, Grant and Pendleton Counties in Kentucky; and Ohio County, Indiana

Dallas, TX: Henderson County

Flagstaff, AZ-UT: Kane County, UT

New Orleans, LA: St. James Parish

Washington, DC-MD-VA-WV:

Berkeley and Jefferson Counties in West Virginia; and Clarke, Culpeper, King George and Warren counties in Virginia

c. Nonmetropolitan Area FMRs.—FMRs also are established for Start Printed Page 25175nonmetropolitan counties and for county equivalents in the United States, for nonmetropolitan parts of counties in the New England states, and for FMR areas in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Pacific Islands. Nonmetropolitan area FMRs are set at the higher of the local 40th percentile rent level or the Statewide average of nonmetropolitan counties. (The State minimum also affects a small number of metropolitan areas whose rents would otherwise fall below the State minimum.)

d. Virginia Independent Cities.—FMRs for the areas in Virginia shown in the table below were established by combining the Census data for the nonmetropolitan counties with the data for the independent cities that are located within the county borders. Because of space limitations, the FMR listing in Schedule B includes only the name of the nonmetropolitan county. The complete definitions of these areas including the independent cities are as follows:

Virginia Nonmetropolitan County FMR Area and Independent Cities Included

AlleghanyClifton Forge and Covington.
AugustaStaunton and Waynesboro.
RockbridgeBuena Vista and Lexington.

2. Bedroom Size Adjustments.— Schedule B shows the FMRs for 0-bedroom through 4-bedroom units. The FMRs for unit sizes larger than 4 bedrooms are calculated by adding 15 percent to the 4-bedroom FMR for each extra bedroom. For example, the FMR for a 5-bedroom unit is 1.15 times the 4-bedroom FMR, and the FMR for a 6-bedroom unit is 1.30 times the 4-bedroom FMR. FMRs for single-room-occupancy (SRO) units are 0.75 times the 0 bedroom FMR.

3. FMRs for Manufactured Home Spaces.—FMRs for manufactured home spaces in the housing choice voucher program are 40 percent of the two-bedroom existing housing program FMRs, with the exception of the areas listed in Schedule D whose manufactured home space FMRs have been modified on the basis of public comments. Once approved, the revised manufactured home space FMRs establish new base-year estimates that are updated annually using the same data used to estimate the existing housing FMRs. The FMR area definitions used for the rental of manufactured home spaces in the housing choice voucher program are the same as the area definitions used for other FMRs.

4. Arrangement of FMR Areas and Identification of Constituent Parts. a. The FMR areas in Schedule B are listed alphabetically by metropolitan FMR area and by nonmetropolitan county within each State. The exception FMRs for manufactured home spaces in Schedule D are listed alphabetically by State.

b. The constituent counties (and New England towns and cities) included in each metropolitan FMR area are listed immediately following the listings of the FMR dollar amounts. All constituent parts of a metropolitan FMR area that are in more than one State can be identified by consulting the listings for each applicable State.

c. Two nonmetropolitan counties are listed alphabetically on each line of the nonmetropolitan county listings.

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[FR Doc. 00-10660 Filed 4-27-00; 8:45 am]