Great Problems Great Minds Seminar Series: Small Area Fair Market Rents and Opportunity Moves

Join the Department of Social Sciences for this Great Problems, Great Minds seminar series event featuring guest speaker, Robert Silverman, who will conduct a discussion about, “Small Area Fair Market Rents (SAFMRs) and Opportunity Moves: Public Housing Authority (PHA) Administrators’ Perceptions of Policy Implementation.” This seminar will take place on Zoom on Thursday, April 6, 2023, from 12:40–1:40 p.m.

Abstract: In 2016, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development promulgated the small area fair market rent (SAFMRs)  rule to address the clustering of housing choice vouchers (HCVs) in segregated and economically distressed areas. The SAFMRs rule was designed to set HCV subsidies based on average rents at the ZIP code level. This was a change from the practice of setting subsidies based on metropolitan-wide average rents. The shift to SAFMRs was intended to increase subsidies in high rent areas, removing barriers to “opportunity moves” in areas with amenities linked to upward mobility (e.g. access to jobs, high performing schools, transportation, health care, etc). This presentation summarizes public housing authority (PHA) administrators’ experiences implementing SAFMRs. Data was collected from semi-structured interviews taken place in 2022 during the fourth year of implementation under the SAFMRs rule.

Bio: Robert Silverman is a professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University at Buffalo (UB) and the State University of New York. He is an affiliate research associate at Buffalo Center for Social Research and a senior research associate at the Center for Urban Studies. Silverman received his Ph.D. in urban studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, his master’s degree in public administration, and his bachelor’s degree in political science from Arizona State University. Before joining the faculty at UB, he was a faculty member in the sociology department at Wayne State University and the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at Jackson State University. His research and teaching focus on fair and affordable housing, neighborhood planning, and community development. He has published scholarly articles on these topics in top journals, such as the Urban Geography, Housing Policy Debate, Journal of Urban Affairs, Urban Studies, and other journals. His research has been funded by Poverty & Race Research Action Council, Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, American Sociological Association, Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority, Erie County Urban County Consortium, the state of New York, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

This event is part of the Great Problems, Great Minds seminar series which explores the major problems facing humanity as we move into the heart of the twenty-first century. To see the full schedule and videos from previous events, visit the seminar series page. For more information, contact Assistant Professor of Social Sciences Hao Huang at