Over the weekend, HUD published a list of fiscal year (FY) 2021 Fair Market Rents (FMRs). The FMR is the basis for defining the payment standard amount in the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program. The Department also uses FMRs for certain other HUD programs. A FMR is “the amount that would be needed to pay the gross rent (shelter rent plus utilities) of privately owned, decent, and safe rental housing of a modest (non-luxury) nature with suitable amenities.” It set at a level to estimate the 40th percentile gross rent (i.e., it is set at a level to allow a program participant to be able to rent a unit from 40 percent of the appropriate available stock in the area). Comments on FMR methodology or requests for FMR reevaluation must be submitted by Sept. 30, 2020. New FY 2021 FMRs will become effective on October 1, 2020.
The Department uses a several step process to calculate the FMRs. First, HUD begins with the U.S. Census Bureau’s 5-year American Community Survey (ACS) data collected between 2014 and 2018. The Department then updates this base year rent data with a 1-year recent mover factor based on the 1-year 2018 recent mover gross rent. The data is only updated if the recent mover factor increases the base year rent data. For both the base year data and the recent mover trend factor, alternative methods may be used for areas that do not have statistically reliable data. The Department then updates this data by using the annual change in gross rents measured through the Consumer Price Index (CPI) from 2018 to 2019. Finally, the Department trends forward the data using one of three models to bring the data from a 2019 estimate to a 2021 forecast. The model used to trend forward the data is based on which model “generates the lowest Root Mean Square Error (RMSE) statistic.”
Once the data has been forecast to FY 2021, the Department takes additional steps. First, the Department adjusts the data, which is typically for two-bedroom units, to create FMRs for other unit sizes. Second, the Department limits the amount of decrease an FMR may have from one year to the next. The current year’s FMR may be no less than ninety percent of the prior year’s FMR. Additionally, the FMRs are subject to the lower of a state or national floor for the FMR.
Small Area FMRs have a distinct methodology employed when being calculated, including their own alternative methods if the data for an area does not meet a statistical check.
Public housing agencies may request that HUD recalculate their FMRs for specific areas. Agencies may fund local surveys of rent and may use their administrative fees to fund these surveys. For a recalculation, a PHA must supply HUD with data more recent than the 2018 ACS data used in calculating FY 2021 FMRs. In early October, HUD will post a list of areas requesting reevaluations. Data for the reevaluations must be submitted by Friday, January 8th. The Department will then post revised FMRs. Data submitted after January 8, 2021 will be incorporated into FY 2022 FMRs.
The full notice can be found here.
The FY 2021 FMRs can be found here.