NORWALK, Conn. – Rents for some Norwalk public housing households is expected to more than double in an “onerous” rent hike mandated by the federal government, Norwalk Housing Authority commissioners said Wednesday.
The rents mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will be instituted at different times for the 70 households affected, NHA Deputy Director Candace Mayer said.
“What HUD has sent down is new regulations,” she said. “There were no rules as to how housing authorities set flat rents and HUD is just setting rules. … Now the flat rents are required to be at least 80 percent of the published fair market rent.”
“It’s onerous. People won’t be able to do it,” Commissioner Beverly Krieger said.
“There’s not one of our flat rents that met this standard. Not one,” Mayer said.
The rent on a one-bedroom Roodner Court apartment would go from the current $584 to $1,231 in the new rules. A Fairfield Avenue studio apartment now renting for $652 would go for $1,106. A three-bedroom Washington Village apartment now renting for $1,214 would go for $1,904.
Board Chairman Cesar Ramirez called the hike “crazy.”
“The one thing is people have a choice, they can choose to leave the flat rent and go back to the income-based rent,” Mayer said.
“Residents use the flat rent to get ahead. You can’t, with a big jump like that. That’s ridiculous,” Commissioner Deidre Davis said.
Income-based rent would be 30 percent of the salaries made by the residents, she said. That would be $1,200 to $1,300 a month, she said.
“That’s still a lot, we’re taking the gross income of all the people in there so the rent is still going to be significant — $1,200 to $1,300 to live in public housing?” she said.
“The increases are limited to 35 percent,” Mayer said. “The only choice a public housing authority has is when to make this change effective. The choice is either at the next annual recertification or during the next annual rent option. It’s different for each person; it’s good for three years.”
NHA Executive Director Curtis Law said advocate groups, such as the Connecticut Housing Coalition, need to protest.
“These are some of the things that they ought to deal with because this becomes regulatory and then housing authorities get stuck with it,” he said. “I think they can do a great service for residents and certainly to housing authorities that catch the flak for these sort of things by organizing and protesting.”
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