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The goal of Cityscape is to bring high-quality original research on housing and community development issues to scholars, government officials, and practitioners. Cityscape is open to all relevant disciplines, including architecture, consumer research, demography, economics, engineering, ethnography, finance, geography, law, planning, political science, public policy, regional science, sociology, statistics, and urban studies.

Cityscape is published three times a year by the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

  • Small Area Fair Market Rents
  • Volume 21 Number 3
  • Managing Editor: Mark D. Shroder
  • Associate Editor: Michelle P. Matuga

Extremely Low-Income: Has the New Measure Made a Difference?

Chalita Brandly
Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Economic Affairs

Extremely Low-Income (ELI) Limits have been used in the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV), Public Housing, and Multifamily programs to prioritize housing assistance for the poorest households since 1998. The original measure of ELI was calculated as 30 percent of area median income. In 2014, the definition of ELI was modified to consider the official U.S. poverty measure. This policy brief discusses the goal of this definition change and how the new measure differs from the old measure. The extent to which households in these programs benefited as a result is evaluated using U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administrative data. Findings shared in the brief reveal that 5 percent of new households benefit from this definition change. These households are more likely to consist of more than one person and reside in non-metropolitan portions of the country. Findings also show that while ELI targets are being met across HUD’s three largest programs, many public housing agencies (PHAs) in the HCV program are unable to meet their targets.

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Note: Guidance documents, except when based on statutory or regulatory authority or law, do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. Guidance documents are intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.