Small Area Fair Market Rent

On June 1, 2018 MHA began using Small Area Fair Market Rent (SAFMRs) to calculate rental assistance in the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program. Use of this new approach is required by HUD for all PHAs in Atlanta MSA.

SAFMR stands for “Small Area Fair Market Rent.” SAFMRs are typical rent levels (including the cost of utilities, except telephone), within a ZIP code, for rental units with different numbers of bedrooms. SAFMRs are established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) each year.

Until June 1, 2018, the amount the PHA would pay toward rent for families with vouchers was based on rental rates across the entire metropolitan area. The new approach uses the localized rent in each ZIP code (the SAFMR) to determine how much assistance families with vouchers are eligible to receive.

As a voucher family, you will still be able to choose the unit that meets your needs (subject to PHA requirements). However, you will be able to use your voucher in more places than would have been possible before – including neighborhoods with higher rents that may have high-performing schools, low levels of poverty, and access to grocery stores, parks, and other amenities. If you choose to rent in a high-cost neighborhood, you will likely receive more assistance toward rent and utilities than you would have under the old approach. If you choose to rent in a neighborhood where rents are low, you may receive less assistance toward rent and utilities under the new approach. MHA hopes that you will make the most of this new approach to choose housing in an area that offers the most benefits for you and your family.

What are payment standards?

Payment standards are used to calculate the maximum subsidy that the PHA will pay for your rental unit. Under the HCV program, you are generally required to pay 30 percent of your adjusted income for rent and utilities. The PHA then pays the difference between your required contribution and either (a) the payment standard or (b) the gross rent (rent plus estimated utilities) of the unit – whichever is lower.

Effective June 1, 2018, MHA will use different payment standards for different ZIP codes in its jurisdiction. You can use the SAFMR Payment Standard Look-Up Tables and ZIP Code Area Map to determine the payment standard in any neighborhood.


MHA utilizes Georgia Housing Search to provide detailed information about rental properties available throughout Cobb County.  Please visit their website: www.georgiahousingsearch.org

Detailed information about the Cobb County School District (CCSD), including school ratings can be found on their website: www.cobbk12.org   Some items of interest include: CCSD is the second largest school system in Georgia and the 23rd largest in the nation. It serves nearly 113,000 students with 112 schools, including 67 elementary schools, 25 middle schools, 16 high schools, one charter school, one special education center, one adult education center and one performance learning center.

The Cobb County website: https://cobbcounty.org can provide you with details about neighborhoods that you may be unfamiliar with in addition to transportation options offered by CobbLinc, Cobb County’s public transportation provider.

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