Sandwich Housing Authority Increases Value Of Section 8 Voucher

SANDWICH, MA [Wednesday, October 18, 2023] – The Sandwich Housing Authority has approved an increase in fair market rents and payment standards for the upcoming year. In a meeting held on October 12, 2023, the authority discussed the 2024 fair market rent report published by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and decided on the adoption of new payment standards for Section 8 vouchers.

These payment standards are crucial as they determine the value of Section 8 vouchers, which assist residents in covering both rent and utilities. Housing Authority Executive Director Paula Schnepp recommended that the board adopt payment standards set at 110 percent of the fair market value. She emphasized the necessity of this increase, as both rent and utilities in the region are becoming increasingly expensive.

Ms. Schnepp revealed that the decision to increase the payment standards to 110 percent was a result of consultations with other housing authorities across Cape Cod. They aimed to ensure consistency and competitiveness with the current market rental rates.

Ms. Schnepp further explained, “When HUD came out with the new fair market rents, and they didn’t go up very much, and we’re seeing rents going up, we talked with other housing authorities on the Cape and decided we really need to go up to 110 percent of fair market rents.”

As a result of this decision, the vouchers for studio apartments will remain at the fair market value of $1,486. However, all other apartment sizes will see an increase:

  • One-bedroom units: $1,743
  • Two-bedroom units: $2,290
  • Three-bedroom units: $2,795
  • Four-bedroom units: $3,186

During the meeting, the authority also discussed the progress of its properties and renovation projects. The replacement of the Hansen Village roof is almost complete, with contractors now working on replacing the gutters. While working on the replacement, they discovered subpar flashing that needs replacement, incurring an additional cost of $3,329. The authority unanimously approved this change order, explaining that it has adequate funds in its contingency budget to cover the expense.

Currently, the housing authority has only one vacant unit, which Ms. Schnepp anticipates filling by December 1. She mentioned that the unit requires significant work, including flooring replacement and other necessary repairs.

The board also agreed to explore the possibility of paying off the mortgage on the Castle Lane property, which was acquired as part of the authority’s rental acquisition program about ten years ago. As interest rates have fluctuated in recent years, the board is considering paying off the remaining $84,055 balance to make the most of the authority’s resources.

Ms. Schnepp emphasized that further discussions with the loan provider, Cape Cod 5, are required to assess the feasibility of early payment. If early payment results in penalties that exceed the interest, the board may reconsider their decision.

The Sandwich Housing Authority’s decision to increase the payment standards for Section 8 vouchers aims to better serve residents in a region where housing costs continue to rise, ensuring that they can access affordable and decent housing.

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