Last week, HUD announced the first thirty public housing agencies to join a small group of innovative agencies as part of the Moving to Work (MTW) demonstration program. Additionally, HUD is inviting agencies interested in participating in this unique demonstration to submit applications for the third and fourth cohorts of the MTW Expansion. The selectees for the second cohort will be announced later this spring.
“At HUD, we believe that individuals know how to best govern their own lives. We have seen that giving PHAs flexibility to care for their vulnerable populations has led to excellent results for low-income families,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “The MTW Expansion allows PHAs to tailor services to fit their communities’ unique needs, improving upon the outdated ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to affordable housing. At the same time, HUD will evaluate specific policy changes so we can apply “what works” to other agencies and benefit families across the nation.”
Through the thirty agencies selected in this initial cohort, HUD will evaluate the overall impact of MTW flexibilities on PHAs with less than 1,000 units. Selected PHAs represent communities from across the nation, including: Auburn, Alabama; Fayetteville, Arizona; Pocatello, Idaho; Ruston, Louisiana; Ripley, Missouri; Neptune, New Jersey; Rosenberg, Texas. In their own words, selected PHAs will the use MTW designation in order to: offer encouragement in the form of incentives to help families work toward self-sufficiency and homeownership; establish emergency or transitional services to the homeless or otherwise hard to house; leverage financial flexibility to adequately fund all programs; develop creative partnerships with public and private collaborators; address mental health impediments of assisted residents; remove barriers that discourage income increases; achieve the highest level of internal operating efficiency; and much more. For a full list of the selectees in this initial cohort, please visit www.hud.gov/mtw.
Through the PHAs that will be selected in the third and fourth cohorts of the MTW Expansion through the notices that were published this week, HUD will learn whether work requirements promote self-sufficiency or how incentives could encourage landlords to participate in HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher program.
The third cohort of the MTW Expansion will test the impact of implementing a work requirement policy on both the agency and the residents it serves. PHAs may choose to implement a work requirement policy in the public housing and/or voucher programs. In the third cohort, HUD seeks to balance the goal of allowing applicant PHAs maximum flexibility to design a work requirement policy while still ensuring that the policies across the PHAs are similar enough to support rigorous evaluation.
The fourth cohort of the MTW Expansion will evaluate landlord incentives and their effect on landlord participation in the HCV program. PHAs in the fourth cohort of the MTW Expansion must implement at least two MTW landlord incentive activities from a provided list. HUD will select PHAs for the fourth cohort of the MTW Expansion using a lottery, thereby establishing two groups: a “treatment group” of PHAs that join the fourth cohort of the MTW Expansion and a “control group” of PHAs that do not join the fourth cohort of the MTW Expansion. An independent research team will compare outcomes for the two groups of PHAs.
Currently, there are 39 MTW PHAs throughout the nation. In 2015, Congress allowed HUD to expand the MTW demonstration program to 100 additional PHAs over a seven-year period.
The 100 new MTW PHAs will be added in several cohorts. Each cohort will experiment with a certain affordable housing policy, and HUD will study that specific policy change to learn what successful MTW innovations should be applied to all PHAs across the nation. The MTW Research Advisory Committee recommended the following policy changes that HUD will evaluate: MTW flexibilities, rent reform, work requirements, and landlord incentives.
Interested agencies should think about the types of policies they would like to implement as part of the MTW demonstration program. Examples of policies that have been implemented by agencies can be found on the MTW website.