When Tonya Rooks moved into public housing, she paid about $50 for rent. Within 18 months she landed a full-time job as a recruiter with First Things First and chose to pay a flat-rate rent of $447 a month, instead of 30 percent of her income.

A flat rate allowed her to plan her monthly expenses better. With overtime pay, her rent would have fluctuated.

For six months, until she left public housing, she was among 206 residents who earned income but lived in public housing by choice and paid flat-rate rent. The flat rates are close to market rate: tenants living in Greenwood will pay $490 for a two-bedroom apartment; residents at the Villages at Alton Park pay $509 for a two-bedroom unit.

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