Assisted Housing:

Rent Burdens in Public Housing and Section 8 Housing Programs

RCED-90-129: Published: Jun 19, 1990. Publicly Released: Jun 19, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the proportion of income that assisted households paid for rent and utilities at six public housing agencies.

GAO found that: (1) the average rent burden for approximately 4,500 public housing households with utility allowances was 30.5 percent of their adjusted income; (2) the average burden for about 5,000 section 8 certificate households with utility allowances was 36 percent of their adjusted income; (3) overall averages tended to mask differences in rent burdens; (4) the current method for administering utility allowances makes it likely that many households will have rent burdens other than 30 percent; (5) energy allowances derive from generalized energy consumption estimates for classes of buildings and dwelling unit size; (6) allowances are not tailored to individual unit or household energy consumption characteristics; and (7) other influences, such as inclement weather and differing tendencies to save energy, may cause the amount of utilities consumed to differ from the estimates.

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