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Proposed Rule

Fair Market Rents for Fiscal Year 2001 for Certain Areas

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AGENCY:

Office of the Secretary, HUD.

ACTION:

Notice of Proposed FMRs for Certain Areas.

SUMMARY:

This notice proposes revised FMRs that reflect the 50th percentile rent levels for 39 areas, as determined by applying the criteria of HUD's interim rule amending its FMR regulations published on October 2, 2000, and trended to April 1, 2001.

DATES:

Comments Due Date: November 6, 2000.

ADDRESSES:

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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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

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 Lynn Rodgers, Economic and Market Analysis Division, Office of Economic Affairs, telephone (202) 708-0590, Extension 5735 (e-mail: lynn_a._rodgers@hud.gov). 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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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Section 8(c)(1) of the United States Housing Act of 1937 (42 U.S.C. 1473f(c)) requires the Secretary to publish FMRs periodically, but not less than annually to be effective on October 1 of each year. FMRs are used (1) to establish payment standards for the Housing Choice Voucher program; (2) to determine initial contract rents in new commitments for Section 8 project-based assistance (e.g., the project-based voucher program); (3) to determine whether comparability applies to adjustment of contracts rents for substantial rehabilitation and moderate rehabilitation programs; (4) as a limit on renewal rents for certain Section 8 projects (including mark-up-to-market projects); and (5) to determine maximum subsidy levels for HOME tenant-based rental assistance, and maximum rent levels in HOME multifamily rental housing. The FMRs also apply to any other programs requiring their use. Today's notice proposes revised FMRs that reflect the 50th percentile rent levels for 39 areas, as determined by applying the criteria of HUD's interim rule, published on October 2, 2000, and trended to April 1, 2001.

Raising FMRs for certain areas, which is part of HUD's new FMR policy, being implemented through HUD's interim rule, published on October 2, 2000, is designed to ensure that low-income families have access to a broad range of housing opportunities throughout a metropolitan area. FMRs will be increased to the 50th percentile in those metropolitan areas where a FMR increase is most needed to promote residential choice, help families move closer to areas of job growth, and deconcentrate poverty.

Publication of FMRs

Section 8(c) of the U.S. Housing Act of 1937 requires the Secretary of HUD to publish FMRs periodically, but not less frequently than annually. HUD's regulations reflect this statutorily required process. Section 888.115 provides that HUD will publish FMRs at least annually. Section 888.115 also provides that HUD first publish proposed FMRs and that HUD provide a comment period for the proposed FMRs of at least 30 days. After evaluating the public comments, HUD will publish the final FMRs (see 24 CFR 888.115).

New paragraph (c) of § 888.113, as added by the interim rule, published on October 2, 2000, provides as follows:

(c) Setting FMRs at the 50th percentile rent to provide a broad range of housing opportunities throughout a metropolitan area.

(1) HUD will set the FMRs at the 50th percentile rent for all unit sizes in each metropolitan FMR area that meets all of the following criteria at the time of annual publication of the FMRs:

(i) The FMR area contains at least 100 census tracts;

(ii) 70 percent or fewer of the census tracts with at least 10 two bedroom rental units are census tracts in which at least 30 percent of the two bedroom rental units have gross rents at or below the two bedroom FMR set at the 40th percentile rent; and

(iii) 25 percent or more of the tenant-based rental program participants in the FMR area reside in the 5 percent of the census tracts within the FMR area that have the largest number of program participants.

(2) If the FMRs are set at the 50th percentile rent in accordance with paragraph (c)(1) of this section, HUD will set the FMRs at the 50th percentile rent for a total of three years.

(i) At the end of the three-year period, HUD will continue to set the FMRs at the 50th percentile rent only so long as the concentration measure for the current year is less than the concentration measure at the time the FMR area first received an FMR set at the 50th percentile rent. HUD will publish FMRs based on the 40th percentile rent for FMR areas that do not qualify for continued use of the 50th percentile rent.

(ii) For purposes of this section, the term “concentration measure” means the percentage of tenant-based rental program participants in the FMR area who reside in the 5 percent of the census tracts within the FMR area that have the largest number of program participants.

(iii) FMR areas that do not meet the test for continued use of FMRs set at the 50th percentile will be ineligible to use FMRs set at the 50th percentile for a period of three years.

(iv) A PHA whose jurisdiction includes one or more FMR areas that are no longer eligible to use FMRs set at the 50th percentile may be eligible for a higher payment standard under § 982.503(f).

Schedule B of this document lists 39 areas for which HUD is proposing to adopt 50th percentile FMRs for all unit sizes on the basis of the criteria specified in § 888.113(c).

Method Used to Develop 50th Percentile FMRs

FMRs are estimates of rent plus the cost of utilities, except telephone. FMRs are housing market-wide estimates of rents that provide opportunities to rent standard quality housing throughout the area. The level at which FMRs are set is expressed as a percentile point within the rent distribution of standard quality rental housing units in the FMR area. FMRs are set at either the 40th or 50th percentile rent—the dollar amount below which the rent for 40 or 50 percent of standard quality rental housing units falls. The 40th or 50th percentile rent is drawn from the Start Printed Page 60085distribution of rents of all units that are occupied by recent movers. Adjustments are made to exclude public housing units, newly built units and substandard units.

Specifically, HUD is proposing to increase FMRs to the 50th percentile rent for all unit sizes in the 39 metropolitan FMR areas that HUD determined met the criteria in § 888.113(c) of the interim rule, published on October 2, 2000.

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 is unchanged, except that the manufactured home space rental FMRs for the 39 areas now are based on the 50th percentile two-bedroom FMR rather than the 40th percentile FMR. HUD will consider public comments requesting modifications of manufactured home space rental FMRs where the 40 percent FMRs are thought to be inadequate. To be considered as a basis for revising the FMRs, comments must contain statistically valid survey data that show the 50th percentile manufactured home 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 of this document. 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 other housing assisted under the housing choice voucher program.

Request for Comments

Through this notice, HUD is proposing to set 50th percentile FMRs for 39 metropolitan FMR areas. HUD seeks public comments on revised FMR levels for the 39 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 that plan to use the RDD survey technique should obtain a copy of the survey guide entitled “Random Digit Dialing Surveys; A Guide to Assist Larger Public Housing Agencies in Preparing Fair Market Rent Comments.” The guide is 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: http://www.huduser.org/​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 50th 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 50th 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 50th 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)) certifies that this notice would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities because the proposed FMRs will not change the rent from that which would be charged if the rental unit were not in the housing choice voucher program.

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 Start Printed Page 60086CFR part 888, are proposed to be amended as follows:

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Dated: October 2, 2000.

Andrew Cuomo,

Secretary.

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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 incorporate OMB's 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 three 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

Dallas, TX—Henderson County

Washington, DC-MD-VA-WV—Berkeley and Jefferson Counties in West Virginia; and Clarke, Culpeper, King George and Warren Counties in Virginia

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 Housing Choice Voucher 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 Housing Choice Voucher program FMRs. The FMR area definitions used for the rental of manufactured home spaces are the same as the area definitions used for the other FMRs.

4. Arrangement of FMR Areas and Identification of Constituent Parts

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.

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BILLING CODE 4210-32-P

[FR Doc. 00-25679 Filed 10-5-00; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4210-32-C