New Study on Choice Mobility Option in RAD Properties Published

HUD recently published a study titled “Evaluation of the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD): Early Findings on Choice Mobility Implementation.” In projects that have converted from public housing to either project-based rental assistance (PBRA) or project-based vouchers (PBVs), the housing agency is required to allow residents to request a housing choice voucher (HCV) (i.e., a tenant-based voucher where the subsidy follows the family) after the resident has lived in the RAD property for 1 year (for PBV-based properties) or 2 years (for PBRA-based properties). If requested, the resident will be provided a voucher when one becomes available.

The study found the following:

  • There were only limited instances where residents requested HCVs;
  • While most agencies adopted limits to the number of HCVs requested at once, none of the agencies ever reached those limits;
  • Housing agency staff felt they effectively communicated the choice mobility option to their residents, while resident experiences varied between agencies;
  • Both housing agency staff and residents mentioned other barriers to exercising the choice mobility option:
    • Residents had trouble finding private-market housing;
    • Nearly all residents stated that paying security deposits, application fees, and first month’s rent presented barriers to using vouchers;
    • Housing agency staff noted high rents presented barriers, especially in tighter rental markets;
    • Resident credit was another barrier;
    • There were certain barriers caused by the pandemic; and
  • Housing agency staff did not believe that the choice mobility option affected unit turnover or impacted management costs.

One-half of the residents who moved noted dissatisfaction with their new neighborhood.

Residents moving from these RAD developments tended not to receive extensive mobility counseling, but the report notes that “[a]lthough PHAs receive administrative fees for PBVs and other HCVs . . . none of the staff at the PHAs interviewed reported using those fees to cover housing search assistance for residents exercising the choice mobility option. Staff at one PHA noted that the lack of direct funding for housing search support from HUD resulted in their search assistance efforts being limited and ad hoc . . . .”

The full study can be found here.

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