Families in areas hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy will get a little extra help if they qualify for rental assistance.  The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will now permit public housing agencies to increase a payment standard up to 120 percent of the published "Fair Market Rent" in affected areas.  This reflects the higher rents in areas in and around New York City as well as the tight rental market and is one of several actions HUD is taking to cut red tape to help families who were forced from their homes and require alternative housing.

Families will continue to pay their required portion of the rent, typically 30 percent of adjusted monthly income, but because of the increase in the maximum subsidy, displaced families will be able to afford housing they could not under the regular payment standard.  The measure also prevents displacement of HUD-assisted families if rents increase because of damage and destruction to rental stock in the disaster areas.

"We understand that in the wake of a disaster like Sandy, available rental housing becomes increasingly difficult to find, especially for lower income families," said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, who President Obama recently appointed to oversee long-term disaster redevelopment in the disaster region.  "Simply by giving local housing authorities greater flexibility in calculating rental assistance to these families can make all the difference in finding a suitable home or not."

HUD is also cutting red tape in other areas in response to Sandy.  These changes include allowing senior housing providers to rent vacant units to hurricane evacuees under the age of 55 without jeopardizing their exemptions under the Fair Housing Act and relaxing federal regulations for dozens of 'participating jurisdictions' in impacted areas so they can quickly rehabilitate single-family housing and to use vacant rental units to house displaced families.