Some Section 8 voucher holders will have more options to use the subsidies

Line for public housing
People lined up to apply for Section 8 housing vouchers in front of the Northeast Regional Library in Minneapolis in June 2008.
Brandt Williams | MPR News 2008

The Minneapolis and Metropolitan Council housing authorities will soon give some people with Section 8 rental subsidy vouchers more choices about where they're used.

The federal government has authorized the two agencies to cut through traditional bureaucratic impediments. This will enable an initial pool of voucher holders to use them in communities outside those usually included in the agencies' operations.

“Our goal is to break down artificial barriers to families to help them use their vouchers wherever they want,” said Terri Smith, director of the Met Council's housing and redevelopment authority.

Initially, the effort will involve a just a small portion of the 12,000 rental vouchers distributed by the two agencies.

People with vouchers from either agency will be able to avoid traditional restrictions that limited their use. Under the new policy, voucher holders from Minneapolis, for instance, could use them in suburbs more expeditiously. And people with vouchers from the Met Council could more readily use them in Minneapolis.

“This partnership is about virtually eliminating [restrictions] to make it easier for families to move around for reasons of moving closer to their job or educational options or family,” said Tracey Scott, the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority’s interim executive director.

With a rental assistance voucher, low-income people pay 30 percent of their income for apartments that meet government guidelines for what's deemed to be fair market rents.

The Minneapolis Public Housing Authority says a family of four with a household income of $16,000 a year, for instance, could receive a rental subsidy of $1,600 toward rent of $2,025.

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