EDA approves HUD housing requirements

NEW ULM — The New Ulm Economic Development Authority approved a series of annual Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requirements, Tuesday.

The board approved a revision to the utility allowance schedule for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program. The voucher program provides rental assistance to very low-income households. Program participants pay approximately 30 percent of their adjusted monthly income toward rent and utility costs. The New Ulm EDA pays the remaining portion of the rent to the landlord.

The utility allowance schedule is an estimate of what the household will pay for utilities based on the bedroom size, type of unit and location. The utility schedules must be reviewed annually and adjusted based on current rates, weather factors and other information that affect the cost of utilities.

Section 8 serves all of Brown County, meaning the EDA approved schedules for New Ulm, Sleepy Eye, Springfield and rural areas.

In 2019, the utility allowances have remained fairly flat with the exception of a decrease in liquefied petroleum (LP) and oil rates across the board and a slight decrease in electric rates.

Housing Coordinator Heather Bregel said she did not see these changes affecting the program financially in any significant way.

The board reviewed a draft of the Annual Plan for Fiscal Year 2019. The plan included a proposed increase to the Public Housing minimum rent from $25 to $50. (HUD) allows housing authorities to set a minimum rent between $0 and $50. Tenants were informed of this proposed change.

Bregel said it was rare for a household to be eligible for a minimum rent. In order to be eligible the household must have zero income. Most are receiving general assistance or social security which prevents hitting the minimum requirement. Only one or two tenants a year pay the minimum rent and usually only for a short time.

The board also awarded the Public Housing Program property liability insurance package bid of $12,536.92 to State Farm Insurance. This package covers the Broadway Haus apartment building and ten family rental units. Three bids were received and State Farm offered the lowest bid.