A proposal to streamline federal rental assistance programs is well intentioned but ill conceived, according to several national housing organizations.

Their concerns are in response to the Transforming Rental Assistance (TRA) initiative that was unveiled by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in its 2011 budget proposal.

HUD leaders say TRA is needed to simplify the current rental assistance system, which aids more than 4.6 million households through 13 different programs.

The initiative intends to move properties assisted under the various programs toward a uniform funding stream, governed by a single set of regulations.

In a recent letter to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, the housing groups say they do not support TRA as it is currently outlined. They point out that the current project-based rental assistance (PBRA) programs are understood and respected by lenders and investors.

“It is inconceivable to us, particularly at a time when the financial market remains extraordinarily risk averse, that HUD would propose converting PRBA to an undefined hybrid of the project-based voucher program.”

The National Leased Housing Association, National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials, National Affordable Housing Management Association, and several other groups sent the letter.

They stress that any change to the existing programs will affect the comfort level of lenders and investors.