Housing Voucher Program Funding History

Since 2003, when renewal funding became based on vouchers in use, PHAs have faced considerable instability in voucher funding.

For one thing, the measure of “vouchers in use” changed yearly.  In 2005 and 2006, use of a three-month “snapshot” baseline over-funded some agencies and under-funded others; agencies lost  four percent of eligible funds in 2005 and six percent in 2006.

As a result, tens of thousands of vouchers were lost. The ongoing uncertainty also undermined agencies’ ability to manage their programs efficiently,  since they could not predict the level of voucher utilization that they could support. 

Appropriators stabilized the renewal formula from 2007 forward, basing funding on most recent annual leasing and costs.  Still, large recissions from PHA reserves in 2008 and 2009 have caused a different kind of destabilization. This is especially true where HUD and PHA data  showed different amounts of reserve funds.

All agencies’ reserves were swept in 2005, but now even those that managed to build up a new reserve fund are largely left without any option for dealing with fluctuations in landlord participation, rising rents, declining tenant incomes, or other market factors beyond their control.  Because an adequate and stable reserve is the bedrock of any well-run enterprise, CLPHA believes that agencies should have protected reserves that allow them to continue to support leasing in their communities.

PHAs have also had to contend with inadequate administrative funding to cover costs of running the program, including accepting and reviewing applications, recertifying participants, and inspecting the rental units for quality.  From 2004 through 2007, administrative funding was relatively stable, based on fees earned in 2003.  In 2008, Congress returned to the statutory provision basing fees on units leased, providing an incentive for agencies to lease up.  Since that time, however, PHAs have received only 90%, at most, of the administrative funding for which they were eligible.

Recent HUD Budgets