An additional 41 metropolitan areas will be required to use Small Area Fair Market Rents (SAFMRs), a move that will expand housing opportunities for more than 800,000 total households using Housing Choice Vouchers, announced the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

These areas join 24 other metro regions covered by HUD’s 2016 Small Area Fair Market Rent final rule. Find the list of required metropolitan areas here.

New metro areas covered by the SAFMR rule include several in Ohio—Akron, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, and Dayton. Others new areas include Detroit, Indianapolis, Miami, and Phoenix.

“Today’s action helps realize a dream that has been deferred for too long. By expanding the housing choices of 800,000 households of modest means, HUD is increasing opportunities and working to break down longstanding, harmful systems of segregation,” said Secretary Marcia L. Fudge. “While the housing crisis remains a challenge, implementing innovative solutions is crucial and will foster a more sustainable future within our communities.”

The move ensures that a portion of units in every neighborhood are affordable to tenants renting with a voucher, including higher-rent neighborhoods with high-performing schools and other life-enriching opportunities, according to HUD. Find the notice, pending publication in the Federal Register, linked here.

SAFMRs allow public housing agencies (PHAs) to set the maximum rent that housing vouchers will cover at the ZIP code level instead of the entire metropolitan area. This policy allows voucher payments that more accurately reflect the local market and enable voucher holders to choose from a wider range of neighborhoods that suit their and their family's preferences and meet their needs, at no additional cost to them, explains HUD.

While 65 metropolitan areas will be required to use SAFMRs to calculate rental assistance, HUD calculates and publishes these rents for all metropolitan areas, which PHAs can voluntarily adopt.

“This is the largest expansion of voucher choice ever, and HUD looks forward to working with PHAs to implement a change that will be life changing for their residents,” said Richard J. Monocchio, principal deputy assistant secretary for public and Indian housing. “In addition to required metropolitan areas, HUD encourages all PHAs to review the available SAFMRs for use and implementation.”

The agencies within the 41 new metropolitan areas will have 15 months to implement the changes. The notice is effective Oct. 1, 2024; PHAs will have until Jan. 1, 2025, to align their payment standards with the notice. Households that use Housing Choice Vouchers for rental assistance can start speaking to their PHA housing specialists now to inquire how this change could impact them.