Project Based Rental Assistance

PROJECT BASED RENTAL ASSISTANCE (PBRA) PROGRAM

OVERVIEW

The Housing Authority of Travis County is committed to building and maintaining affordable housing for low to mixed income families in our community, without discrimination. We seek to promote safe neighborhoods by partnering with individuals and organizations to provide housing and facilitate employment opportunities and education benefits for eligible individuals to improve their quality of life.

The Housing Authority completed its first Travis County public housing project in 1980, now known as Summit Oaks (24 units). Shortly thereafter, Eastern Oaks (30 units) and Alexander Oaks (51 units) were built. The total number of units of this type that the Housing Authority manages is 105.

In 2016, the Housing Authority converted the 105 Public Housing units to Project Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) through HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) Program, enabling the Housing Authority to make improvements to its properties and improve residents’ lives, while also ensuring the properties remain affordable to low-income families for the next 40 years.

PROJECT BASED RENTAL ASSISTANCE (PBRA) DEVELOPMENTS

PBRA Affordable Housing units are located throughout the Austin area. Click here to see photos and locations of conventional public housing properties.

Alexander Oaks
6119 Valiant Circle, Austin, Texas 78749
Eastern Oaks
4922 Nuckols Crossing, Austin, Texas 78744
Summit Oaks
11607 Sierra Nevada, Austin, Texas 78759

Frequently Asked Questions

WHAT IS RAD?
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates there are 1.2 million units with $26 billion in needed repairs which have resulted in the decline of public housing units by 10,000 units being demolished or disposed of each year. In order meet HUD’s goal of preserving the nation’s rapidly aging and deteriorating stock of deeply affordable rental housing, HUD created and implemented RAD as a central part of its strategy.

RAD allows the current federal funding for public housing to be converted to long-term Project Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) contracts. HATC will receive the same amount of funding from the federal government as it has for traditional public housing subsidies. The RAD program will have no impact on local taxes.

RAD seeks to preserve public housing by providing Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) with access to more stable funding to make needed improvements to properties. HATC will have control of its properties and can mortgage land and buildings to finance the improvements and provide access to funding to maintain affordability of units

RAD allows HATC to utilize LIHTC (low-income housing tax credits) to secure access to public housing. By opening up access to 9% and 4% federal housing tax credits and to private capital (tax credit equity, debt), HUD is allowing HATC to renovate properties to preserve and create public housing units and other affordable apartments that are necessary to support Travis County's low-income population with safe, decent, and affordable housing.

WHAT RAD MEANS FOR RESIDENTS?
For individual residents, the process is transparent; they will see little difference in their financial requirements (rent and utilities). Rents will still be based on 30% of adjusted household income. No current resident has to reapply to stay at the property and has the right to stay in assisted housing and return to an upgraded unit in their original property.

In many cases, a RAD project may require relocation of residents when properties undergo repairs, are demolished and rebuilt, or when the assistance is transferred to another site. Each property will receive some improvements, and many units will be thoroughly upgraded, modernized, and made more energy-efficient.

Residents in the HATC’s PBRA-RAD program can apply to live at the specific HATC property of their choice. Residents who remain at the same PBRA property for two years will be placed on the Housing Choice Voucher waitlist that will allow them to seek housing in the private rental market.

OVERALL IMPACTS

BEFORE RADAFTER RAD
Properties are typically not funded at 100% in Public Housing. Section 91 platform has become unreliable due to recent federal pro-rations and funding cuts. Properties are converted from Section 9 and placed on a more stable Section 8 rental assistance funding program, which by law must be renewed at expiration.
In Public Housing, PHAs like HATC cannot easily secure private debt and/or equity capital to perform the needed repairs or improvements.PHAs of Public Housing units and owners of assisted housing projects can more easily borrow money and perform the necessary rehabilitation or repair work.
The Section 9 1 funding level fails to keep up with the pace of deteriorating living conditions of Public Housing units.
The living conditions of residents in HATC units are improved due to secure Section 8 funding platform and rent calculation methodologies.
Residents cannot choose to move from the Public Housing program without losing their housing assistance unless they are eligible to receive some other form of voucher assistance.Residents may receive a tenant-based voucher (Housing Choice Voucher) and may choose to move after 2 years in PBRA without losing their rental assistance (Referred to as Choice Mobility).
1Section 9 refers to Section 9 of the U.S. Housing Act of 1937, as amended

WHY IS PBRA NECESSARY?
PBRA provides low-income households with decent, safe, and sanitary housing for a rent they can afford. Without it, many of these families would face worst-case housing needs, meaning they would pay more than half of their income for rent, live in severely inadequate physical conditions, or both.

PBRA supports a stock of long-term affordable housing and helps preserve and protect the federal investment that went into developing and maintaining it over the years. Without this assistance, many properties would convert to market-rate housing with potentially large rent increases that existing residents would not be able to afford. Alternatively, in the absence of rental subsidies, owners of these properties would not be able to generate sufficient rental income to maintain them in habitable condition. Without ongoing rental income, some developments would be unable to continue payments on existing debt, including mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), or mortgages backed by bonds issued by state HFAs.

WHAT IS PBRA?
Project-based Section 8 rental assistance (PBRA) contracts provide subsidies for affordable multifamily rental developments to lower rental costs for low-income families and to help offset construction, rehabilitation, and preservation costs.

PBRA makes up the difference between market rents and what low-income tenants can afford, based on paying 30 percent of household income for rent, through Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) contracts between HUD and HATC. With a Section 8 Project-based Rental Assistance contract, the subsidy is tied to a specific property.

WHOM DOES PBRA SERVE?
PBRA currently provides affordable housing for over 2 million people in 1.2 million low-income households. In Travis County, PBRA serves approximately 200 individuals, including single adults and households with children. To be eligible for PBRA, households must be low-income [at or below 80 percent of area median income (AMI)]; however, PBRA typically serves households far below that threshold.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE
All adult family members must meet the following federal guidelines and applicant screening criteria:

  1. Meet HUD requirements on citizenship or immigration status;
  2. Meet the applicant selection criteria and complete a full application appointment;
  3. Meet the screening requirements related to criminal activity and have accepted prior rental history;
  4. Not have any family members engaged in any criminal activity that threatens the life, health, safety or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other residents, and not have any family members engaged in any drug-related criminal activity;
  5. Pay any money already owed to HATC; and
  6. Have an annual income that does not exceed income limits established by HUD (must not exceed 80% of Area Median Income (AMI) based on family size).

ARE THERE INCOME LIMITS?
Yes, there are income limitations for housing. Click here for income limits for the Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos area. However, we encourage you to complete and submit an application when the waiting list is open to determine eligibility. To qualify for PBRA, you cannot exceed the Low-Income Standards.

Limited to low-income families and individuals, HATC determines your eligibility based on annual gross income, whether you qualify as elderly, a person with a disability, or as a family; and U.S. citizenship or eligible immigration status.

A family must be ‘low-income’, meaning that its income may not exceed 80 percent of the local median income – in order to move into Section 8 PBRA housing. HATC uses income limits developed by HUD. HUD sets the lower income limits at 80% and very low-income limits at 50% of the median income for the county or metropolitan area in which you choose to live. Income limits vary from area to area so you may be eligible at one Housing Authority but not at another.

HOW IS INCOME BASED RENT DETERMINED? 
Tenants pay 30 percent of their income (after certain deductions are taken out) for rent and utilities. The gap between the tenant contribution and the cost of maintaining and operating the apartment is filled by a monthly Section 8 PBRA payment to the private owner of the building.

Your rent, which is referred to as the Total Tenant Payment (TTP) in this program, would be based on your household's anticipated gross annual income less deductions, if any. Based on your application, HATC will determine if any of the allowable deductions should be subtracted from your annual income. Annual income is the anticipated total income from all sources received from the family head and spouse, and each additional member of the family 18 years of age or older.

HOW LONG CAN I STAY IN PROJECT BASED RENTAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM?
In general, you may stay in public housing as long as you comply with the lease. If at reexamination, your family's income is sufficient to obtain housing on the private market, HATC may reevaluate your income to determine whether your family should stay in public housing.

Residents may receive tenant-based voucher (traditional Housing Choice Voucher) and may choose to move after 2 years in HATC PBRA unit without losing their rental assistance. In order to be eligible for the Choice Mobility option, families have to live in an HATC-owned PBRA property for at least 2 years. These families meet HATC’s HCV program requirements and are eligible to exercise portability when they first receive a voucher.

DO YOU CHECK CRIMINAL BACKGROUNDS?
Yes. The Housing Authority of Travis County has a screening process to determine eligibility. The screening process involves a criminal background check on every adult family member, credit check, as well as checking references for rental history.

IS IT A REQUIREMENT TO HAVE CHILDREN TO LIVE IN PROJECT BASED SECTION 8 RENTAL ASSISTANCE?
No. The bedroom size of the unit is determined by the number of household members.

TO QUALIFY, DO I HAVE TO BE WORKING?
No. However, you must have some form of income to be able to pay for your monthly utility bills.

HOW BIG ARE THE UNITS?
Units range in size from one to four bedroom units.

WHAT UNIT WILL BE OFFERED?
Once the screening process is completed, HATC will offer all available units in the appropriate bedroom size on a first-come, first-served basis, as outlined in the Tenant Selection Plan and Housing Choice Voucher Administrative Plan.

HOW CAN I APPLY?
HATC only accepts applications when the waiting list is open. When the waiting list opens, announcements will be posted in local newspapers, area social service agencies and other local sources.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER BEING PLACED ON THE WAITING LIST?
When an applicant family reaches the top of the waiting list, they will be invited in to the HATC office to complete an eligibility interview. The information provided to HATC by the applicant will then be verified for accuracy and eligibility. Once the family has been certified eligible, they will wait for the next unit to become available.

For More Information contact the Multi-Family Housing Manager