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Brief on HUD’s Suspension of Housing Voucher Reform

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently suspended a rule to increase the availability of affordable housing in higher-rent neighborhoods. Our amicus brief in a suit against HUD argues that the suspension violates administrative law by disregarding economic impacts and failing to first seek public feedback.

Under the 2016 Small Area Fair Market Rent Rule, HUD directed many public housing agencies to calculate housing vouchers by zip code rather than by average rents across a metropolitan area by January 2018. This change would increase the purchasing power of housing vouchers and reduce concentration of voucher recipients in low-cost and less-diverse neighborhoods. But in 2017, HUD announced it was effectively suspending the rule until January 2020. Our brief supports the challenger’s request that the court direct HUD to withdraw its suspension while legal challenges make their way through the courts. We argue that to legally suspend the rule, HUD must say why its previous economic justification for the rule is no longer valid in addition to opening the suspension for public comment. Because HUD failed to do either, we argue that the plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their claims that the suspension violates the Administrative Procedure Act.