On September 30, HUD REAC released their Operating Fund Subsidy Eligibility for November, 2016. The Explanation of Obligations can be found on HUD’s Financial Management Division (FMD) website.
FAQ topics addressed include:
- AFFH and the AFFH Rule;
- The AFFH Data and Mapping Tool;
- The Assessment of Fair Housing;
- Community Participation Requirements; and
- Implementing the AFFH Rule.
For more information on AFFH, see NAHRO’s AFFH Resource Center (members only).
HUD sent out an email notifying PHAs that Guidance on Final 2016 Operating Subsidy Eligibility and Request for HUD Modifications/Corrections on HUD’s Operating Subsidy webpage. The guidance relates to the Public Housing Operating Fund Final Eligibility Report published on September 28. According to the email, “[t]he reported eligibility is based on HUD-52723s received and processed to date, and includes all new and existing projects to be funded for the calendar year using 2016 Appropriations. The eligibility in this report will be used to make final obligations for 2016 including any adjustments to the 12 months cumulative funding for projects.”
PHAs are advised to review the Final Eligibility Report worksheet to confirm that the eligibility shown is accurate. If PHAs identify issues with the eligibility, they should email their local Field Office immediately, but no later than October 5, 2016.
Requests for changes must be accompanied by the appropriate supporting documentation: proof that the PHA complied with the August 15, 2016 deadline and/or evidence that changes are needed due to HUD errors.
On September 26, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramirez sent an e-mail to PHA executive directors identifying the self-implementing provisions of the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016 (HOTMA). All the other Housing Choice Voucher or Public Housing provisions will require HUD promulgated notices or regulations.
Five HOTMA Self-Implementing Provisions
- Reasonable Accommodation Payment Standards – PHAs may establish, without HUD approval, a payment standard of up to 120 percent of the Fair Market Rent (FMR) as a reasonable accommodation for a person with a disability. The Streamlining Rule already provided this flexibility.
- Establishment of Fair Market Rent –
- HUD may publish FMRs directly to their website, skipping the Federal Register, but must publish a notice in the Federal Register that they are published. Changes how interested stakeholders comment on FMRs and requests that HUD reevaluate the FMRs in a jurisdiction before those rents become effective.
- PHAs will no longer be required to reduce payment standards as a result of a FMR reduction for families continuing to reside in a unit under a housing assistance payment (HAP) contract at the time of the FMR reduction. The regulation at 24 CFR 982.505(c)(3) requiring the new decreased payment standard be applied to program participant families at their second regular reexamination is no longer applicable. PHAs must “adopt policies in their Administrative Plans that further explain this provision.” HUD will issue additional guidance in the future.
- Family Unification Program (FUP) for Children Aging out of Foster Care –
- FUP-eligible youth may receive FUP assistance up to 36 months. Applies to current as well as new FUP-assisted youth.
- Expands eligibility requirements for FUP-eligible youth. Expanded eligibility applies to the following:
- Youth aged 18 to 24 that are homeless or at risk of being homeless, and
- for those that left foster care at age 16 or older, or those that are within 90 days of leaving foster care.
- “At risk of being homeless” is defined at 24 CFR 576.2.
- Preference for U.S. Citizens or Nationals in Guam – Only applies to Guam. Establishes a preference for U.S. Citizens or Nationals in receiving financial assistance.
- Exception to PHA Resident Board Member Requirement – provides an exception for certain jurisdictions from resident board member requirements. Provision has been in effect through multiple appropriations acts.
Today, HUD published a 30-day notice for public comment on the proposed Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Assessment Tool for States and Insular Areas (or “State and Insular Area Tool”). This proposed tool will be the vehicle by which States and Insular Areas receiving Community Planning and Development (CPD) formula funding from HUD will prepare and submit their Assessments of Fair Housing, as required by the AFFH final rule. The proposed tool would also be used for AFHs conducted through joint or regional collaborations (with local governments and/or public housing authorities [PHAs]) where the State is the lead entity.
HUD’s revised State and Insular Area Tool contains numerous updates compared to the previous version, including a streamlined analysis (called “insert”) that may be used by small program participants that are seeking to collaborate with a State to submit an AFH.
Small program participants are either:
- Qualified PHAs (QPHAs – PHAs with 550 or less total public housing and Section 8 units); or
- local governments that received a CDBG grant of $500,000 or less in the most recent fiscal year prior to the due date for the joint or regional AFH; or
- HOME consortium whose members collectively received less than $500,000 in CDBG funds or received no CDBG funding in the most recent fiscal year prior to the due date for the joint or regional AFH.
Beyond the insert, the revised tool contain changes that are largely clarifying – making questions in the tool more applicable to States. Among HUD’s specific requests for comments (which begin on Page 105 of the notice), the Department is seeking feedback on the following issues that are relevant to QPHAs and small local governments:
- Will the Small Program Participant insert facilitate collaboration among States and smaller local governments, and will the insert allow a small program participant to conduct a robust fair housing analysis and set meaningful fair housing goals?
- How can the QPHA insert be improved so that the QPHA may conduct a robust fair housing analysis and set meaningful fair housing goals when collaborating with a State?
- How can HUD better clarify the responsibilities for QPHAs that choose to participate in collaborations with States?
- Are there ways that HUD can improve the clarity of the questions and instructions for States and QPHAs when collaborating on an AFH?
- How can the QPHA insert, which covers the QPHA’s service area, be improved to facilitate a meaningful fair housing analysis for QPHAs, including those that are in rural areas?
- What additional guidance can HUD provide to QPHAs to better assist them in establishing meaningful fair housing goals?
The revised State and Insular Area Tool is available for review on the HUD Exchange website. Comments on the revised State and Insular Area Tool are due by October 28, 2016.
HUD has also announced that the public comment process for this tool will be extended to include two distinct stages with separate public notices. The first is the notice described in this blog post, and the second forthcoming notice will focus on the AFFH Data and Mapping Tool (AFFH-T) for States and Insular Areas.
Note: The State and Insular Area Tool is one of four separate AFH assessment tools that HUD has committed to issuing for program participants. The four tools are currently in various stages of development. Learn more by visiting the NAHRO AFFH resource page (members only)
On September 13, the U.S. Census Bureau released two new annual reports (Income and Poverty in the United States: 2015 and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2015) that offer the public some unmistakably positive news. According to the reports, the U.S. has experienced the largest decline in poverty rates in the last 16 years, with 13.5 percent of Americans (43.1 million people) living in poverty in 2015, compared to 14.8 percent in 2014. This decline coincides with the nation’s continued decrease in the number of people without health insurance coverage, which decreased from 10.4 percent of the population (33 million people) in 2015 to 9.1 percent in 2014. Additionally, real median household income increased to $56,516 in 2015, constituting a 5.2 percent gain from 2014 – the first annual increase since 2007, right before the most recent recession.
To complement the national-level reports, the Census Bureau also recently published local-level income, poverty, and health insurance statistics from the American Community Survey. According to the new data, between 2014 and 2015, real median household income increased in 39 states plus the District of Columbia and not one state experienced a decrease in real median household income. Additionally, between those same years, poverty rates declined in 23 states (largely for metropolitan areas) and not one state experienced a poverty rate increase.
Journalists and experts have been quick to note the effect of this income growth and poverty decline on our housing market. Dan McCue from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies points out that demand for housing, especially among young adults gaining independence, may grow. The income growth will likely work against the nation’s declining homeownership rates and help alleviate the stresses felt by housing cost-burdened households.
Kriston Capps from The Atlantic points out the number of people in poverty (43.1 million) is still higher than where it was before 2007, and households in the third, second, and lowest quintiles have yet to recover. Real median household income in 2015 was 2.4 percent lower than the peak in 1999, Capp writes, the economy is recovering, but Americans would feel it more profoundly if they weren’t putting all their money toward the rent.
On September 23, 14 members of Congress, including Chairman of the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance Blaine Luetkemeyer, submitted a letter to HUD requesting additional information about HUD guidance on the application of Fair Housing Act standards regarding the use of criminal records when admitting tenants. According to the guidance, if a policy or practice that restricts access to housing on the basis of criminal history results in a disparate impact on individuals of a particular race, national origin, or other protected class, such a policy or practice may be unlawful under the Fair Housing Act, even if the provider had no intent to discriminate.
The letter explicitly states that the members of Congress agree that discrimination against individuals with criminal histories should be eradicated, however the letter notes concerns stemming from legal and operating questions for property owners, managers and tenants. Specifically, members of Congress request that HUD provide them with additional information on
- HUD’s steps to reconcile the guidance with judicial decisions, most specifically Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. the Inclusive Communities Project.
- HUD’s efforts to ensure uniformity in FHA compliance efforts pursuant to the rule.
- Research, analysis and data sources used by HUD in conceiving, drafting, and finalizing this guidance, along with information that HUD will use to support criminal screening policies and practices in HUD supported housing.
NAHRO’s Community Revitalization and Development and Housing Committees will meet at NAHRO’s National Conference in New Orleans to begin a white paper highlighting best practices that PHAs can follow to comply with the HUD guidance. NAHRO’s past coverage of HUD’s guidance can be found here.
On September 21, HUD released an interim report, conducted by Econometrica Inc., that examines how the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program is performing. According to the report, by October 2015, public housing agencies (PHAs) that participated in the program successfully generated $2.5 billion in new investment to preserve and improve the public housing stock, leveraging $9 in capital for every $1 of public housing funds. In HUD’s press release, Secretary Castro noted that “[t]he early returns are in and RAD is proving itself to be an exciting new tool that allows us to ensure safe, quality housing for low-income Americans. As we continue to evaluate this demonstration, it’s already clear that RAD is helping to preserve an important piece of our nation’s affordable housing stock.”
NAHRO is pleased to see the success of RAD program in helping PHAs leverage needed dollars. However, more administrative capacity is required from HUD to ensure successful, streamlined RAD transactions.
RAD is not a panacea to fix our public housing properties. Although it works for some PHAs, it will not work all PHAs. It is imperative that policymakers renew their commitment to adequate funding for the program, and RAD remains just one tool that PHAs can use to modernize their public housing units.
HUD’s press release can be found here.
On September 20, HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing Issued HUD Notice PIH-2016-13 entitled Guidance on Property and Casualty Insurance Issues. The Notice provides guidance on the procedures, restrictions, reporting requirements and eligible uses related to casualties for Operating or Capital Funds. The Notice also modifies existing guidance on the eligibility of units that have been subject to a casualty for continued Operating Funds.
The Notice specifies that costs of repairing or rebuilding public housing projects due to damage or destruction caused by casualties, emergencies or natural disasters are eligible Capital Fund expenses. Costs may eventually be covered with insurance proceeds or, if approved by HUD, in a separate grant from the annual appropriations set-aside funds for emergency and natural disasters. PHAs are not required to repay the Capital Fund unless the proceeds cover the same work funded by an Emergency or Disaster grant.
PHAs are also allowed to use Operating Funds for emergency work due to unforeseeable and unpreventable emergencies that include damage to the physical structure of a PHA’s housing stock. PHAs must reimburse their operating account for any expenses that were initially covered with Operating Funds. PHAs must use insurance or disaster proceeds to reimburse their operating account up to the amount received.
The Notice further discusses steps PHAs must take in the event of rebuilding or demolishing damaged properties from unforeseeable and unpreventable emergencies.
On September 21, 2016, HUD will publish a final rule titled “Equal Access in Accordance with an Individual’s Gender Identity in Community Planning and Development Programs” in the Federal Register. The final rule, which builds upon HUD’s February 2012 Equal Access Rule, will add a new section to HUD’s general program regulations (24 CFR Part 5) requiring HUD CPD program recipients and subrecipients to provide transgender persons and other persons who do not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth with access to program benefits, services and accommodations in accordance with their gender identity.
The final rule will also amend HUD’s definition of “gender identity” so that it more clearly reflects the difference between actual and perceived gender identity and eliminate the current prohibition on inquiries related to sexual orientation or gender identity. Additionally, the final rule makes a technical amendment to the definition of “sexual orientation” to conform with the Office of Personnel Management’s current definition.
Elsewhere in the Federal Register, HUD will be requesting public comment on a proposed document entitled “Equal Access Regardless of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, or Marital Status” for owners or operators of CPD-funded shelters, housing, facilities, and other buildings to post on bulletin boards and in other public spaces where information is typically made available.
A link to the proposed document, as well as deeper analysis of the final rule, will be forthcoming for NAHRO members.