Secretary Carson Discusses FY 2019 HUD Budget at Appropriations Hearing

HUD Secretary Ben Carson testified in front of the House Appropriations Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) subcommittee today, answering questions about HUD’s FY 2019 budget proposal.

A video of the full  hearing and his written testimony are available on the subcommittee’s web site.

Members of the subcommittee asked several pointed questions about the Administration’s plan to eliminate key components of the HUD portfolio, including the the Community Development Block Grant program (CDBG) and the HOME Investment Partnerships program (HOME). Congressman David Valadao (R-Calif.) and full committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) both asked the Secretary to comment on how communities would deal with losing CDBG dollars.

“We do have a way to take care of the good things CDBG does, and that is through the Opportunity Zones, a program that will bring in up to $2.2 trillion in money to substitute for that program and infrastructure,” said Secretary Carson. “I suspect we may be asking ourselves how we can use all that money.”

Several times, Secretary Carson offered the new Opportunity Zone program as a replacement for funding cut by the Administration’s budget. The program was created in December through the tax reform legislation and is run through the Treasury Department. It is unclear how much funding the program will generate or how the dollars will be distributed in communities.

The Administration also proposes eliminating the entire Public Housing Capital Fund, slashing the Operating Fund by $1.6 billion, and shifting the financial burdens of the Capital Fund and all its set-asides to the Operating Fund. This is part of a larger plan at HUD to move away from the public housing model, which the Secretary called “failing and financially unstable,” to the Section 8 platform through the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program. However, while the Administration does propose $100 million for RAD conversions, it does not request additional funding for more vouchers.

Subcommittee Ranking Member David Price (D-N.C.) asked Secretary Carson to address the budgetary problems this creates. “You’re proposing to totally eliminate public housing and merge the Capital Fund into Operating, while proposing to cut the Operating Fund,” he said. “The Operating Fund is slashed, so that’s not even adequate to address operating, much less absorbing capital expenses. And then if we’re going to go to RAD, we’re going to need some additional section 8 vouchers.”

The Secretary re-emphasized the benefit of RAD conversions. “We’re moving away from the whole concept of public housing, quite frankly,” Carson said. “I think this is going to work much better,”

He again mentioned Opportunity Zones as a replacement for lost capital funding and referenced unused Capital Fund reserves held by housing authorities to address the backlog in deferred maintenance.

The subcommittee has several members from areas hit by natural disasters in the past year, and those members reinforced the importance of HUD assistance to recover from the storms. Congressman John Culberson (R-Texas) pressed the Secretary to agree to lower the mandate that 70 percent of CDBG disaster relief (CDBG-DR) dollars go to families of low to moderate incomes, noting that funding has been slow to get to localities. Subcommittee Chairman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) thanked the Administration for its focus on mitigation in disaster relief recovery and asked for coordination on long-term efforts.

The Secretary was also asked several questions about the purchase of a $31,000 dining set for the HUD office and is likely to be pressed further on Thursday when he will testify before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee in a hearing on HUD oversight.

One bright spot of the hearing was a comment by full Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, who said that the T-HUD bill will be “getting a lot of money in 2018.” The final FY 2018 omnibus spending bill is expected to be released later tonight. The current continuing resolution providing funding for the federal government expires on this upcoming Friday.


Senate Approves Reforms for Small Agencies

This week the Senate approved the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (s. 2155), a wide-sweeping banking bill that also included several provisions to provide regulatory relief to small housing agencies and authorization for the Family Self-Sufficiency program.

The bill moved relatively quickly through the Senate; the initial draft was unveiled in November and it was approved by the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee in December. After two weeks of floor consideration, it was approved 67-31 on Wednesday, March 14.

While NAHRO did not take a position on the overall bill, NAHRO does support the small agency provisions. The bill includes:

  • Streamline public housing inspections, making the process less burdensome on the agency, while protecting residents’ right to decent, healthy housing;
  • Exempt small agencies from environmental reviews for projects under $100,000 and streamline the environmental review process for projects over $100,000;
  • Create an appeals process for troubled agencies that protects residents and allows agencies to demonstrate satisfactory unit condition;
  • Freeze formula utility and waste costs to accrue cost savings; Deploy a reporting system at HUD for agencies that choose to operate under a consortia; and
  • Enhance the Family Self-Sufficiency program.

The path forward is unclear; the Senate modified the bill to attract more support in the House, but the House has already approved similar legislation. NAHRO is working with Congressional staff to consider options for the small agency provisions.

HUD Publishes Small Area FMR Guidebook and Additional Information on Small Area FMR Implementation

HUD has recently published several additional sources of information on Small Area FMR implementation. Recently published sources of information include the following:

Additionally, links are provided to the previously published Small Area FMR guidance and Small Area FMR HUDUser page.

All of these links and additional information on each these sources can be found on the HUD Exchange page here.

Tomorrow – NAHRO e-Briefing on Work Requirement Proposals and Practices

Housing Rules!!

An e-Briefing series on formation & substance of HUD rules, regulations, and guidance.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 13, 2018 from 1:30pm to 3pm eastern time

Work Requirements – Proposals & Practices

The Administration has released their fiscal year 2019 budget proposal which includes many policy provisions that would affect an assisted family’s rent payment. One provision would allow a housing authority or unit owner to require non-elderly and non-disabled family members to be employed or in a vocational training program for a minimum number of hours. During this e-Briefing, the NAHRO Policy Team will provide an overview of the Administration’s proposal. Also joining us are Moving to Work PHAs that have implemented a minimum work requirement to discuss why they use minimum work requirements and explore the results that have been seen to this point.

What is an e-Briefing?

A 90-minute online session (1:30pm – 3pm ET) that focuses on industry hot topics which affect your agency now. Expert presenters from the housing and community development industry, HUD and/or other agency staff and practitioners will share the most current information and case studies on critical issues. The final 20 minutes of each e-Briefing are reserved for questions & answers. e-Briefings are different from e-Learnings in that not every person listening must be registered. We require only one registration per viewing site/connection/device.

Registration closes tonight at 11:59 eastern time. Click the Register Now button above or below to register.

HUD Issues Choice Neighborhood Planning Grants

Last week, HUD awarded nearly $5 million in Choice Neighborhood Planning Grants to six communities to “help create plans to redevelop severely distressed HUD assisted housing and revitalize neighborhoods.” The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative is place-based and focuses on three goals: housing, people, and neighborhoods. Through the Choice Neighborhoods planning process,  local governments, housing authorities, residents, nonprofits, tribal authorities, private developers, school districts, police departments, and other civic organizations “create a common vision and develop effective strategies to revitalize their neighborhood.”

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HUD Releases Guidance on Using Operating Subsidy for Capital Fund Program Activities

On Wednesday, February 28, HUD published Notice 2018-03 titled “Guidance on the Use of Operating Subsidy for Capital Fund Purposes for Subsidy Appropriated and Allocated for Calendar Year 2018 and Subsequent Years.” The Housing Opportunities Through Modernization Act of 2016 (HOTMA) included language that allows PHAs to transfer up to 20 percent of their Operating Funds to their Capital Fund, language NAHRO has advocated for strongly over many years. This guidance explains how public housing agencies (PHAs) operating public housing may use a portion of their Operating Subsidy for capital activities, subject to HUD requirements.

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Public Housing Reentry Technical Assistance

The Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) is accepting applications from PHAs for 14 months of technical assistance for those PHAs that are planning and implementing reentry programs or changing their policies to safely increase access to housing for people with conviction histories.

Vera encourages a diverse set of PHAs to apply–including those of all sizes and those with Housing Choice Vouchers. Multiple PHAs that are geographically close to each other may also submit a single joint application.

Applications will be accepted until 11:59 PST on Wednesday, May 2, 2018.

Questions should be directed to John Bae at Additional information on the application can be found here.

2018 HCV Admin Fee Rates posted

Yesterday, HUD’s Housing Voucher Financial Management Division sent an email stating that the CY 2018 Administrative Fee Rate Tables have been posted on HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program page.

The CY 2018 Administrative Fee Rates Description can be found here.

The CY 2018 Administrative Fee Rate Tables can be found here.

The Office of Housing Choice Vouchers website (where the tables are posted) can be found here.

HUD Permanently Sets Aside Small Area FMR Suspension

In a stipulated judgment filed on February 16, HUD has permanently set aside the Small Area Fair Market Rent (FMR) suspension. Last summer, using authority in the Small Area FMR regulation, HUD suspended the mandatory implementation of Small Area FMRs for 23 of 24 designated areas. Recently, a federal court found that HUD did not appropriately use its regulatory authority to suspend the mandatory components of the rule. In this document, HUD agrees to permanently set aside the suspension and continue implementing the Small Area FMR program on an expedited basis.

The full stipulated judgment and order can be found here.

HUD Updates FY 2018 FMRs

Earlier today, HUD published a notice in the Federal Register titled “Fair Market Rents for the Housing Choice Voucher Program and Moderate Rehabilitation Single Room Occupancy Program Fiscal Year 2018; Revised.” The notice updates the FY 2018 FMRs based on new survey data for the following eight areas:

  • Hawaii County, HI;
  • Hood River County, OR;
  • Jonesboro, AR HUD Metro FMR Area (HMFA);
  • Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA);
  • Santa Maria-Santa-Barbara, CA MSA;
  • Seattle-Bellevue, WA HMFA;
  • Urban Honolulu, HI MSA; and
  • Wasco County, OR.

These eight areas requested reevaluation and provided data to HUD to allow for a reevaluation. The notice also responds to comments previously submitted.

The full notice can be found here.