Brookings Publishes Guide on Writing Effective Regulatory Comment Letters

The folks over at the Center on Regulations and Markets at Brookings have written a handy and short (seven pages!) guide to commenting on regulations. It discusses the federal rulemaking process; how to structure a comment letter; some things to consider about a regulation; assessing the legality of a regulation; and the mechanics of commenting on the rulemaking process.

If you’re interested in writing effective comments to HUD (or any other federal agency), this may be a good guide to take a look at.

The guide can be found here.

HUD to Reopen AFFH Rule

Earlier today, HUD published a press release announcing that it published a notice inviting public comment on amendments to its Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation.

[8/16/18 Edit – the notice has been published in the Federal Register. It can be found here. The comment due date is October 15, 2018.]

The Department wishes to receive comments on amending the rule so that it does the following:

  1. minimizes regulatory burden while more effectively aiding program participants to meet their statutory obligations;
  2. creates a process focused primarily on accomplishing positive results, rather than on analysis;
  3. provides for greater local control and innovation;
  4. seeks to encourage actions that increase housing choice, including through greater housing supply; and
  5. more efficiently utilizes HUD resources.

Currently, HUD has suspended the obligation of local governments to file Assessments of Fair Housing (AFHs) using the local government tool. The Department believed that the tool was “confusing, difficult to use, contained errors, and frequently produced unacceptable assessments, and otherwise required an unsustainable level of technical assistance.” There is currently a lawsuit brought by three civil rights groups filed against HUD on its action suspending requirements of the rule.

NAHRO will provide additional information to our members as we continue to read through the notice and as additional information becomes available.

The Department’s press release can be found here.

A pre-publication copy of the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking can be found here.

[8/16/18 Edit – the published copy can be found here.]

HUD Publishes Notice on HOME Homebuyer Program

On August 8, HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development posted Notice CPD-18-09, “Requirements for HOME Homebuyer Program Policies and Procedures.” The Notice provides guidance to HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) participating jurisdictions (PJs) on requirements for the homebuyer program. Requirements include: homebuyer underwriting standards, responsible legal standards, and standards for refinancing and subordination of HOME loans. PJs must implement these requirements for all homebuyers who receive HOME assistance of purchase a unit developed with HOME funds.

The Notice also includes guidance on the housing counseling requirements for the HOME Homebuyer Program, including the use of HUD-approved counselors and housing counseling agencies.

 

Senate Approves FY 2019 Transportation-HUD Spending

This afternoon the Senate voted 92-6 to approve a four-bill spending package that includes the FY 2019 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) bill.

Details on the Senate’s THUD bill can be found here (NAHRO log-in required). The bill was passed without major changes; no funding levels were altered and only a couple of housing-related amendments were approved, including one on mapping the presence of a pyrrhotite across the country and eviction protections for domestic violence and sexual assault victims.

The FY 2019 THUD bill generally maintains the spending gains achieved in by the FY 2018 omnibus bill that increased HUD spending by 10 percent. This is a major victory considering funding for the overall federal budget is not increasing significantly in FY 2019 and the spending allocation for the Senate’s THUD bill was lower than the House THUD allocation. Despite these obstacles, housing programs fared well compared to most of the transportation programs funded by the bill, demonstrating the effectiveness of NAHRO members’ advocacy efforts.

Though the passage of the FY 2019 THUD bill is a major step toward finalizing spending, the path forward from here is unclear. The House FY 2019 THUD bill contains several controversial policy riders (largely transportation-related) and both members of the Democratic Party and the conservative House Freedom Caucus are unhappy with funding levels contained in the bill. As a result, THUD is seen as one of the more controversial spending bills this year and is unlikely to be brought to the House floor as a stand-alone bill.

Because Congress is unlikely to finalize FY 2019 THUD spending before the beginning of the fiscal year on October 1, 2018, a continuing resolution will be needed to keep THUD programs operating. A continuing resolution is a stop-gap bill that maintains previous year spending levels until a set date, allowing Congress additional time to finalize spending. Conversations about a CR have not yet begun in Congress, but like recent years, it’s probable that a CR would last until late November or early December.

HUD Implements Over Income Limits for Public Housing Residents

On July 26, HUD posted a notice in the Federal Register implementing Public Housing income limits as required by the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016 (HOTMA). HOTMA places the threshold for over-income families as those with incomes over 120 percent of area median income (AMI) for the most recent two consecutive years. If a family meets this threshold, public housing authorities (PHAs) have the option of either charging the higher of the fair market rent for the unit or the monthly subsidy (operating and capital fund), or terminating the tenancy within 6 months. Language in HOTMA also provides the Secretary the discretion to establish different income limitations based on local construction costs or unusually high or low incomes, vacancy rates, or rents.

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Today!! – Complimentary Smoke-Free Public Housing Webinar

ANSR2Today, July 19 at 12:30pm Eastern Time join the Clean Air for All team for a complimentary, live discussion and Q&A on the “Instituting Smoke-Free Public Housing” final rule. Participants will hear a brief update on the rule and be able to submit questions to Live Smoke Free, NAHRO, and NAR-SAAH staff. Have any and all your remaining questions on final implementation of the rule answered before the July 30 compliance date. Join us to help your agency transition to and maintain successful smoke-free public housing environments. Register for this complimentary session at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/884748810457188355.

To learn more about the Clean Air for All: The Smoke-Free Public Housing Project or to seek support for a PHA, contact gbanna@nahro.org or goto www.smokefreepublichousingproject.org.

RAD Roundup – RAD Supplemental Guidance

There has been a lot of activity around the new RAD guidance documents over the past few days. This post is meant to compile a lot of that information in one place.

New RAD Guidance Documents:

Additional HUD Documentation of new RAD Guidance Documents:

Additional non-HUD Posts:

 

HUD Publishes Notice on Voluntary Transfer and Consolidation of HCV Programs

HUD has published PIH 2018-12 titled “Process for Public Housing Agency Volunteer Transfers and Consolidations of Housing Choice Vouchers and Project-Based Vouchers.” The notice describes the process by which a PHA may request a voluntary transfer or a consolidation of the agency’s Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program. In a voluntary transfer, one PHA’s identifying number and Consolidated Annual Contributions Contract (CACC) remains intact, while in a consolidation, both or all of the PHA’s names, CACCs, and identifying numbers are terminated and replaced. The notice applies to PHAs that administer the HCV program, including project-based vouchers (PBVs), but excludes the Public Housing Low-Rent program and the Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation program.

Click below for additional information.

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HUD Publishes New RAD Guidance

Tomorrow, HUD will publish new Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) guidance in the form of two new Federal Register notices. The Department has also published a new RAD Public and Indian Housing (PIH) Notice. The three new guidance documents are the following:

  1. Rental Assistance Demonstration: Implementation of Certain Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Appropriations Act Provisions (link is to a pre-publication copy);
    1. [7/3/18 Edit – The final, published document can be found here];
  2. Rental Assistance Demonstration: Supplemental Guidance on Final Notice (link is to a pre-publication copy);
    1. [7/3/18 Edit – The final, published document can be found here]; and
  3. PIH-2018-11Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) – Supplemental Guidance.

[7/2/18 11:55 am edit – At the same time this post was published, HUD sent a RADBlast! email with additional information.

  • Modified FY 16 RAD Rents can be found here.
  • HUD will host a webinar on July 9, 2018 at 2 pm ET. Registration can be found here.
  • Finally, a version of the RAD notice revised version 3 as amended with the Supplemental Notice can be found here.]

The first notice announces several things:

  1. HUD will use rent levels based on the FY 18 RAD rent base year for Commitments to enter into a HAP contract (CHAPs), portfolio awards, and multi-phase awards issued on or after January 1, 2019. Those rent levels will be published once the final public housing operating subsidy obligation is made for FY 18.
  2. For awards before Jan. 1, 2019, HUD will modify the FY 16 RAD rent base year by replacing the PHA’s FY 16 Capital Fund Formula Grant  with the PHA’s FY 18 Capital Fund Formula Grant (i.e., in calculating RAD rents before Jan. 1, 2019, HUD will use FY 18 Capital Grant allocations, but FY 16 Operating Fund allocations and tenant rents);
  3. The Department can award RAD authority to certain projects where PHAs have submitted Letters of Interest (LOIs) to reserve their position on the RAD waiting list if they submit a complete RAD application within 60 days of publication of the notice;
  4. For all multi-phase awards issued after March 22, 2018, PHAs will have until September 30, 2024 to submit an application for the final phase of the project covered by the multi-phase award; and
  5. HUD may approve a replacement CHAP without new application materials, when a PHA voluntarily withdraws a project and requests new RAD authority for the same project within one month thereafter.

The second notice summarizes certain aspects of the PIH notice. It expands Rent Bundling such that PHAs may bundle between RAD project-based vouchers and non-RAD project-based vouchers. It allows PHAs to establish a project-specific utility allowances for Covered Projects. It provides alternative developer fee limits when a PHA adopts a waiting list preference for households exiting homelessness. It establishes that HUD will disapprove a proposed conversion where a PHA is disposing units at a proposed project and HUD determines that the use of disposition and RAD undermines the unit replacement requirements of RAD. It creates a streamlined conversion option for PHAs that have a very small public housing portfolio of 50 units or less that will not involve any rehabilitation, new construction, or relocation.

NAHRO members will receive additional coverage on these notices and the RAD program.