Utility Allowances Provided to Public Housing and Section 8 Households and Resulting Rent Burdens

T-RCED-90-41: Published: Mar 7, 1990. Publicly Released: Mar 7, 1990.

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GAO discussed utility allowances provided to public housing and section 8 households, focusing on: (1) the extent of the allowances; (2) the rent burdens of households receiving utility options; and (3) options for change. GAO noted that: (1) use of allowances was widespread, and allowances ranged from less than $10 to over $200 per month and averaged $52 per month for public housing households and $64 for section 8 households; (2) 33 percent of public housing households and 7 percent of section 8 households paid 30 percent of their adjusted incomes for rent, but 45 percent of public housing and 70 percent of section 8 households paid more than 30 percent; (3) annual rent burdens averaged 30.5 and 36.0 percent of the tenants' adjusted monthly incomes for public housing and section 8 households, respectively; and (4) while options for change included deriving utility allowances from actual consumption data, redefining excess consumption, and reviewing allowance amounts, none of the options was clearly preferable.

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