NAHRO and Industry Partners Release Joint Statement Supporting Universal Housing Vouchers

On June 17, 2021, NAHRO along with its industry partners—CLPHA, PHADA, and the MTW Collaborative—jointly issued a statement on universal housing vouchers. Only one in five low-income households that are eligible to receive housing assistance can be served by existing programs due to limited funding. The statement discusses the need for additional rental assistance to address housing instability and prevent homelessness. The statement also discusses the strengths of the voucher program in providing scalable assistance that is proven and effective.

The full statement is can be view here.

Congress Holds Judiciary Hearing on Unlawful Evictions

On June 14, the House Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties held a hearing on “Potential Remedies for Unlawful Evictions in Federal Emergency Areas.” Chairman Steve Cohen (D-TN) opened the hearing by noting his Emergency Eviction Enforcement Act of 2021 (H.R. 1451), a bill that would provide federal protections to renters who are at risk of eviction during a national emergency. In response, Ranking Member Mike Johnson (R-LA) presented his view that federal renter protections would be a government overreach.

Witnesses from Memphis Area Legal Services, the Heritage Foundation, the University of Memphis, and NAACP provided expert testimony to the subcommittee. Three of the four witnesses testified in support of the legislation, citing the need for stronger enforcement of the COVID-19 eviction moratoriums and data showing that people of color are at greater risk for eviction during a crisis. The witness from the Heritage Foundation focused more on the needs of landlords who resorted to evictions where possible due to their lost rental income during the pandemic.  

Following the witness testimonies, subcommittee members expressed their views on evictions and questioned the witnesses. The discussion centered around “self-help evictions,” which occur when landlords force tenants to leave their units without going through the formal court proceedings. One witness explained that there were reports of informal evictions in her community. Landlords changed the locks on tenants who were behind on rent, for instance, even while the federal eviction moratorium was in place.

The hearing also included a broader conversation around evictions. Both the witnesses and members of the subcommittee acknowledged the number of evictions in the United States as a growing concern. The recorded hearing and all witness testimonies are available online.

HUD Updates Emergency Housing Vouchers FAQ to Version 3

HUD has updated a document of frequently asked questions (FAQ) on HUD’s new Emergency Housing Vouchers (EHV). Topics covered by the FAQ include eligibility, partnerships and collaborations, voucher administration, administrative and service fees, portability, reporting requirements, EHV voucher allocation, EHV voucher acceptance/rejection process, and Moving to Work (MTW).

The revised EHV FAQ can be found here.

HUD Webinar on Eviction Prevention and Stability Toolkit on June 10th at 2 pm ET

HUD will host a webinar on its Eviction Prevention and Stability Toolkit on June 10th at 2 pm ET. The webinar will focus on “how PHAs can use the components of the Eviction Prevention and Stability Toolkit to work with residents collaboratively.” Registration for the webinar is not required. The webinar can be joined by clicking the link below at the appropriate time.

Webex Link: https://ems8.intellor.com/login/839449 (no registration needed)

Dial-in: 888-251-2949 | Access Code: 2419011##

Summary of CARES Act Waivers Exploratory Meeting

The following is a summary of an exploratory meeting with HUD staff on 5/19/21 on CARES Act statutory waivers, considering the potential advantages and disadvantages of making each waiver permanent. PHAs and industry group members in attendance offered feedback and comments about their experience with the waivers, to give context to the operation of each waiver in practice. NAHRO will continue to be engaged in discussions to ensure efficient and effective HUD affordable housing programs that serve the needs of local communities. Select comments, questions, and concerns from the meeting are included below:

  1. HQS Inspection Requirement: Biennial Inspections
  • Allows for delay in biennial inspections
  • PHAs must require landlord certification there are no life-threatening deficiencies
  • All delayed biennial inspections must resume by 6/30/21 and be completed by 12/31/21

Comments on how to assure units meet HQS standards:

Switch to random inspections

For new units for last 2 years, allow landlord to do self-inspection but tenant has to sign-off on no life-threatening issues, and then every 5th unit look out for 90 days

RVI  was initially not well-received by households or inspectors, but now successful as inspectors became efficient with technology and residents got familiar with the process

2. Public Housing Agency Annual Self-Inspection

  • Waives the requirement that the PHA must inspect each project

Comments:

Goal to ensure compliance without being intrusive

Flexibility of the waiver is good, but residents need a mechanism to complain to the PHA

One solution is to send property staff with LIHTC state inspections, which are unofficial but reduce intrusions and get eyes on the property

3. Homeownership Option: Initial HQS Inspection

  • Waives the requirement to perform an initial HQS inspection to begin making homeownership assistance payments
  • Requires family to obtain independent professional inspection

4. Family Unification Program (FUP): FUP Youth Age Eligibility to Enter HAP Contract

  • Allows PHAs to increase age to 26 for foster youth to initial lease up

Comments:

Multiple comments that expanding age would help program with utilization, and benefit program overall

Youth considered a dependency on parental health insurance until 26 if parents have health insurance, and would help with youth in more expensive cities

Questions about different timelines for youth in FSS for FYI and FUP

5. Community Service and Self-Sufficiency Requirement (CSSR)

  • Temporarily suspends CSSR

Comments:

Has no specific outcome

Administrative argument to made as well that it takes unnecessary time, effort, funding to manage

6. 1-and 2-Year Substantial  Improvement Requirements

  • For PHAs designated as troubled prior to the date of this Notice that have not received a PHAs assessment for the first full fiscal year after the initial notice of the troubled designation.
  • HUD will: (1) evaluate the 1-year substantial improvement benchmark based on the first released score for fiscal years ending on or after June, 30, 2022; and (2) toll the evaluation of the 2-year recovery benchmark to the next sequential fiscal year.

7. Extension of Deadline for Programmatic Obligation and Expenditure of Capital Funds

  • Provides an 18-month extension for obligation and spending of cap funds

Comments:

Construction currently very difficult because of high building costs, can only get materials costs 6 weeks at a time

Hard to make a 5-year plan when we don’t know what the funding will be

Additional waivers and comments:

  • Waiver for publishing openings and closing of wait lists:
    • Feedback: Expensive to publish in print, requests to consider alternative methods of publication

HUD Updates Eviction Prevention and Stability Toolkit

HUD has updated its eviction prevention and stability toolkit. The toolkit provides ten items that can help PHAs and Housing Choice Voucher landlords stabilize families during the COVID-19 pandemic. The toolkit provides the following documents:

The updated eviction prevention and stability toolkit can be found here.

New HCV Landlord Participation Webinar on Partnerships and Monetary Incentives

HUD is hosting a webinar on two new chapters of the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Landlord Strategies Guidebook. The chapters are on establishing partnerships and monetary incentives. The webinar will be oriented towards current HCV landlords, landlords interested in the HCV program, PHAs, rental housing industry groups, and other interested stakeholders.

The one-hour webinar is on June 22, 2021 at 2 pm ET.

Registration for the webinar can be found here.

Emergency Housing Vouchers FAQ Updated to Version .2

HUD has updated the Emergency Housing Voucher frequently asked questions (FAQ) document to version .2. The FAQ can be found on HUD’s Emergency Housing Voucher (EHV) website. The new updated FAQ answers questions related to eligibility, partnerships and collaborations, voucher administration, administrative and service fees, portability, reporting requirements, EHV allocation, EHV voucher acceptance/rejection process, and moving to work (MTW).

The FAQ can be found here.

Application Deadline for SR-FBR Program Extended

HUD has extended the application deadline for the Small-Rural Frozen Rolling Base (SR-FRB) to June 30, 2021 (Notice PIH-2021-17). To apply to the SR-FRB program, eligible PHAs must elect to participate in the program via the Operating Fund Web Portal. The election will be made through the SR-FRB submodule, which can be found in the Energy Incentives module. Elections must be on or before June 30, 2021 if an agency wishes to begin the program in 2022. As with other Operating Fund Web Portal submissions, applications must be filled out by the PHA Executive Director. Detailed instructions on how to fill out the election form can be found here. A list of eligible PHAs for the program can be found here.

The SR-FRB program allows small, rural PHAs to freeze their three-year rolling base consumption level that is used to calculate their operating fund amounts received. Housing agencies will be able to freeze their most recent three-year period for a period of up to 20 years. All cost savings will go to the PHA and the PHA may use them for any eligible public housing purpose.

President Kicks Off Holiday Weekend With Proposal to Increase HUD Funding

The President’s full FY 2022 budget proposal released May 28, provides additional details to the topline numbers outlined by the Administration in April. Overall, the President proposes to increase HUD funding by 15%, focusing increases core programs, climate change resiliency, disinvested communities, and HUD staff capacity.  

The Administration proposes full funding for Section 8 On-going Administrative Fees, which HUD estimates to be $2.79 billion. In addition to fully funding Admin Fees, the President calls for an additional $490.7 million in Admin Fee for PHAs to use for mobility-related social services. If funded, it would be the first time since FY 2003 the full cost of operating the voucher program has been met. NAHRO commends the Administration for the recognition of the work that PHAs are doing in communities and the resources needed to continue those vital services.

NAHRO is glad to see the Administration’s support for affordable housing and community development reflected in the FY 2022 proposed budget. This 15% increase in HUD funding includes a significant increase for the public housing capital fund to preserve existing affordable housing, $500 million more for the HOME Program, which will build more affordable housing, and an increase in resources to support the Housing Choice Voucher Program. These are all vital steps in helping to house our nation’s families, seniors and children.

NAHRO President Sunny Shaw, in response to the budget proposal
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