Section 8 Changes Could Open Doors For Low-Income Pittsburghers

New Fair Market Rent Calculation Aims To Make More Neighborhoods Accessible

Jennifer Bloodworth
March 12, 2018 - 7:09 pm
Pittsburgh Skyline

PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) — Changes are on their way for Pittsburgh’s Section 8 voucher program that could open new opportunities in new neighborhoods.

The new payment standards for the Housing Voucher Choice Program, commonly known as Section 8, is set to begin on April 1st. Current calculations make high-rent neighborhoods in the city unattainable because they utilize rent prices from the entire metropolitan area including Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette and Westmoreland Counties.

The new payment standards and fair market values would be calculated based on ZIP code, making previously unavailable neighborhoods and amenities accessible to Section 8 voucher recipients.  

Anita Zuberi is an assistant professor of sociology at Duquesne University who studies Section 8 told the KDKA Radio Afternoon News Monday the change is intended to prevent keeping voucher recipients limited to certain areas of the city.

“This was intended to really try and allow for people to not be so concentrated in certain neighborhoods and to spread out more, which we know is better for their outcomes and also for neighborhoods’ outcomes.”

“Right now, people’s options have been somewhat limited,” Zuberi explained, something the new fair market rent order by HUD is meant to remediate.

“In theory, [it] should make people have a higher rent that they can pay with their voucher to be able to open up some more opportunities,” Zuberi said. “So that people aren’t all forced to be in the higher poverty neighborhoods and you may see some deconcentrating of that poverty.”

Some critics are concerned the change may decrease the total number of units and vouchers available.

Public hearings on the issue will be held Tuesday at 12 and 5:30 p.m. at in the housing authority board room at 200 Ross Street, Downtown.