For years, MAHT has advocated for changes to the State’s Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP). Thanks to pressure from MAHT and our partners at the Citizens’ Housing and Planning Associations (CHAPA), we are now seeing results.
On January 26th, Governor Baker released a FY2023 Budget Recommendation that outlines several significant changes to the MRVP. Included was a plan to lower MRVP tenant rent share from 40% to 30% of household income. This major change, which has long been spearheaded and championed by MAHT, will affect upwards of 9,500 low-income households. Lowering tenant rent share to 30% is within the Governor’s discretion to enact administratively, meaning that the Department of Housing and Community Development can make the change without going through the long budget setting process.
Other MRVP-related recommendations in the Governor’s budget include allocating at least 75% of vouchers for extremely low-income households earning below 30% of the Area Median Income and establishing a payment standard instead of a maximum permissible rent for MRVP voucher holders. Switching from a maximum rent to a payment standard increases housing options for MRVP voucher holders by allowing vouchers to cover higher rents that more accurately reflect what is available on the housing market.
The good news doesn’t stop there. To assure that these victories are permanent and cannot be undone by changes to the administration or the annual budget setting process, housing advocates have been working to pass H.1428 An Act Codifying the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program. H.1428 was reported out favorably by the Joint Committee on Housing this past week, which brings the bill one step closer to passing this Legislative Session! Along with codifying the victories listed above, H.1428 proposes other significant changes, including but not limited to establishing inspection requirements for units rented with MRVP vouchers and allowing unspent allocated MRVP dollars to carry over to the next fiscal year.
Stay tuned for more information and advocacy opportunities!