Public housing agencies will be granted more freedom when calculating rent payments to offer more housing options for families displaced by Hurricane Sandy, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Tuesday.

Additionally, HUD will allow local housing agencies to boost its payment standard up to 120% of the published Fair Market Rent, which will also give low-income families more housing options in currently tight rental markets. The annual Fair Market Rent is used by local housing agencies to determine how much rental subsidy low-income families quality for via HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher Program.

“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. 

Currently, the payment standards can be set as high as 110% of the Fair Market Rent.

“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.  This is just one more example of how the Obama Administration is cutting red tape to make our programs work better following a disaster,” said Donovan.

With the special waiver offered by HUD, families will continue to pay the required portion of their rent, typically 30% of the adjusted monthly income. However, because the available subsidy is increased, displaced families can afford housing they would not be able to otherwise, expanding the inventory for these families. 

The waiver will also prevent HUD-assisted families from being displaced when rent increases significantly due to the loss of rental housing stock in Sandy affected areas.