The U.S. Housing and Urban Development Corp. has released its proposed Fair Market Rent for 2019 — and if the figures are adopted, Curry Homeless Coalition claims it will make it even harder for low-income residents to find housing in Curry County.

“Lowering Fair Market Rates (FMRs) will have a devastating impact on rent burdened individuals and families in our region,” said Beth Barker-Hidalgo, director of Curry Homeless Coalition. “this adjustment to FMRs is counter to what we know is happening in our region.”

The FMRs for a two-bedroom unit is currently $812; the proposal would lower that to $786. Other sized housing units are eligible for different monetary subsidies.

That means someone seeking housing who holds a $812 voucher toward rent costs would next year only receive a $786 subsidy.

“And if the rent is above the fair market rent, we can’t help people get into housing,” Hidalgo said. “And people are listing units above fair market value to avoid having to deal with that population at all.”

She cited a one-bedroom unit in Gold Beach that’s listing for $1,100 a month.

“Those are folks targeting a specific market,” she said, of traveling nurses and others who make a higher income. “That takes more units off the market. The (proposal) will increase that number.”

“That’s not uncommon, nor reflective of the local market, either, she said.

“HUD’s FMR adjustment is counter to our Community Health Assessment’s results as they relate to housing availability for people in extreme poverty or our working poor.”

“When FMRs are lowered, that means the housing authority and Oregon Coast Community Action have greater difficulty finding units we can subsidize,” Hidalgo said. “If rents are higher than FMR, we can’t assist people. This, in a nutshell, decreases further the number of available units for low-income people and or unhoused people.”

Tami Kaufman, a Gold Beach city councilor and property manager said the proposal runs counter to the common knowledge in Curry County that rents are increasing. She said rents were on a steady increase in the early 2000s until 2008 and the Great Recession struck.

She said a large supply of units were suddenly on the market and rents went down. By 2014, however, rents stabilized and stayed steady until 2014, when they started rising again.

Kaufman said rents are 10 percent to 20 percent above the market rate since the Great Recession.

“This proposal has (average rent rates) less in 2019 than (they are currently,)” she said. “Most people who wait for two years to get their Section 8 voucher from the North Bend-Coos Curry Housing Authority are unable to fill their voucher because they cannot find a housing unit that meets the already low-rent standard. It’s not reflective of what is needed in our communities,” she continued. “In fact, we would benefit from more vouchers, like a 25 percent increase and a higher fair market rate for rentals. This would help people actually take advantage of the program, reduce the homelessness issue and increase the livability of our communities.”

A housing study for the county — expected to be made public Oct. 4 — shows Curry County is short as many as 512 affordable housing units. And the number of residents deemed “rent burdened” is increasing, with some reporting paying up to 80 percent of their monthly income on housing, further increasing the chances of people ending up on the streets. Hidalgo cited a man who receives a voucher for $733 — and his rent is $600 a month.

“ORRCA said they can get him an application and maybe get him in the (rental assistance) program ... that’s what’s happening,” she said. “Where we sit right now with FMRs; it’s horrible. It’s going to get worse before it’s going to get better.”

Hidalgo and others are also frustrated because the deadline for comments about the proposal is Sunday, Sept. 30.

She said she didn’t know when the HUD information was originally released and that the Coos Curry Housing Authority — an organization involved in affordable housing issues — only learned about it Wednesday afternoon.

To submit comment, go to https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=HUD-2018-0071-0001 Another link, https://www.huduser.gov/portal/datasets/fmr/fmrs/FY2019 or https://www.huduser.gov/…/…/FY2019_code/select_Geography.odn outlines HUDs proposal for counties and regions throughout the nation.

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