On May 12, HUD posted the FY 2021 Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grants Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) on grants.gov. HUD is making available up to $5 million for planning grants. Planning grants are two-year grants of up to $450,000 that assist communities with severely distressed public or HUD-assisted housing in developing a neighborhood transformation plan and carrying out early action activities to help successfully implement the plan.
Applications are due to grants.gov on Tuesday, July 13, 2021.
The Vera Institute of Justice has created a fact sheet titled “Looking Beyond Conviction History.” The fact sheet was created by Vera collaborating with multiple PHAs across the country. It provides eight recommendations for PHAs that want to rethink their admission policies for people with criminal conviction histories. While the full fact sheet offers additional details and rationales, the recommendations are the following:
Shorten the lookback period to three years or less;
Screen for a limited number of convictions and not for arrests;
Conduct an individualized assessment of applicants’ conviction histories;
Discontinue the use of “one-strike” policies and adopt a case-by-case decision-making approach;
Allow people on probation or parole to live in public housing;
Limit the use of past evictions to determine successful tenancy in public housing;
Specify and limit denials connected to illegal drug use; and
Include absence as a result of incarceration as a permitted temporary absence and allow people to stay housed while completing diversion or alternative-to-incarceration programs.
The website hosting the fact sheet can be found here.
HUD has created an Emergency Housing Vouchers website. Emergency Housing Vouchers (EHVs) were created by the American Rescue Plan and provide 70,000 vouchers for people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness, fleeing domestic violence and other categories, or who people who are at a high-risk of housing instability. The website currently includes the following:
On May 11, HUD awarded nearly $51.4 million to 25 Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) in 19 states to help clean up lead hazards in public housing. NAHRO has long advocated for increased funding for PHAs to help remediate and eradicate lead-paint in public housing properties. Provided through HUD’s Public Housing Capital Fund, these grants are targeted to public housing units occupied by families with young children. HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge noted in HUD’s press release that “protecting families with young children from lead and other health hazards is an important part of HUD’s mission, and we don’t take it lightly… HUD is committed to President Biden’s directive to prioritize environmental justice and equity for disadvantaged communities.” HUD’s press release can be found here.
As part of the American Rescue Plan, Congress allocated $5 billion in funding for Emergency Housing Vouchers. On May 5, 2021, HUD published PIH 2021-15 titled “Emergency Housing Vouchers – Operating Requirements.” HUD is using a portion of that funding to allocate 70,000 vouchers to PHAs. The vouchers are to assist families that are experiencing homelessness (or at risk of homelessness); attempting to flee, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking or human trafficking; or were recently homeless and for whom providing rental assistance will prevent the family’s homelessness or having high risk of housing instability.
The notice lays out the procedures and requirements of receiving and administering the emergency housing vouchers (EHVs). It states operating requirements; allocation of administrative and other support services fees; the housing assistance payments (HAP) funding renewal process; family eligibility requirements; EHV waivers; the EHV recapture and redistribution procedures; and the prohibition on the reissuance of turnover of EHVs after Sept. 30, 2023.
In structuring this program, HUD reached out to industry groups to ask for feedback. NAHRO provided comments on how the program should be structured. We are pleased that much of NAHRO’s feedback was incorporated into this notice including creating a services fee, using enhanced payment standards, allowing security deposit assistance, allowing utility deposit assistance, allowing rental application assistance, allowing the use of landlord incentives, allowing purchasing essential household items (e.g., furniture), allowing initial self-certification of certain information, and using certain other flexibilities.
NAHRO members will receive additional information in the near future.
A federal judge has set aside and vacated the eviction moratorium put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). On May 5, Judge Dabney Friedrich of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia issued an opinion that was narrowly focused on one question, “Does the Public Health Service Act grant the CDC the legal authority to impose a nationwide eviction moratorium?” Judge Friedrich answered the question, “It does not” and further explains that the CDC and the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services exceeded the authority granted to them by the Public Health Service Act by issuing a nationwide eviction moratorium.
Judge Friedrich’s opinion can be found here. PHAs must continue to follow all local (state, county, city) eviction moratoriums and local landlord tenant laws. NAHRO will continue to follow this case and share additional information as it becomes available.
UPDATE (5/5/2021, 2:26pm ET) – The US Justice Department is appealing to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit the US District Court’s order vacating the CDC eviction moratorium.
UPDATE (5/5/2021, 3:31pm ET) – The US Justice Department has issued a statement respectfully disagreeing with the District Court’s decision and confirming that they have filed a notice of appeal of the decision. The statement is available here.
UPDATE (5/6/2021, 8:48am ET) – Judge Friedrich has issued an administrative stay putting her order vacating the CDC eviction moratorium on hold. The court will allow both parties to submit briefs against and in support of the stay and will then make a further decision on to keep the stay in place or not. As of this update, the CDC eviction moratorium remains in effect.
In a press release, HUD has selected PHAs to participate in its new mobility demonstration. The mobility demonstration serves as a research evaluation to demonstrate the efficacy of a bundle of mobility-related interventions (i.e., services offered to families that help remove barriers moving to areas of opportunity). Recent research has shown that moving to areas of opportunity has positive impacts on health and the future lifetime earnings of children.
Program participants will be divided into three groups: a control group; a treatment group which receives comprehensive mobility-related services; and a second treatment group which receives selected mobility related-services. The Department, PHAs, and researchers will then evaluate the efficacy and cost of the bundles of mobility-related services provided.
The PHAs selected for the demonstration can be found below.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has uploaded their 2021 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Implementation webinar. This presentation focuses on Notice PIH 2021-10 and discusses how the funding for the voucher program in 2021 will be implemented along with key deadlines for additional funding (e.g., housing assistance payment [HAP] set-aside funding and special administrative fees).
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has updated their Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Landlord Strategy Guidebook for PHAs. New chapters have been posted on monetary incentives and reimbursement funds, inspections, matching local rental markets, and partnerships. The guidebook provides suggestions and ideas for PHAs looking to recruit new landlords and retain current landlords to the HCV program.
The guidebook has the following chapters:
Choosing which Strategy is Right for Your PHA (incomplete);
On April 26, HUD released Notice PIH-2021-12, “Implementation of Public Housing Operating Fund Shortfall Funding from Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2021 Appropriations.” The FY 2021 Appropriations Act included $25 million for PHAs that experience, or are at risk of, financial shortfalls. The funding was provided to mitigate the risk of financial shortfalls among PHAs and was directed to prioritize the funding to PHAs with 249 or fewer public housing units that are determined to be experiencing shortfalls and have less than one-month of reserves before allocating funds to larger PHAs. MTW Agencies are eligible to apply as well.
For the purposes of this Notice, HUD defines having a financial shortfall as having less than two months of operating expenses held in reserve. The eligibility for the Shortfall Funding Program will be based on the amount of Monthly Operating Reserves (MOR) a PHA has according to their most recent audited or unaudited FDS submission. A list of agencies that fit this shortfall definition can be found here.
PHAs that are included on the list of eligible PHAs described above may apply for Shortfall funding by completing the Shortfall Funding Application found in Appendix A of the Notice and submitting it via e-mail to 2021ShortfallFunding@hud.gov no later than midnight (Eastern Time) on June 4, 2021. The application must be submitted by the PHA’s Executive Director or other authorized representative and include the PHA name and PHA code (e.g., CA001), as well as the contact information for HUD follow-up if necessary.