HUD Releases Notice on Environment Review Requirements

On December 5, HUD released Notice PIH 2016-22 (HA) titled “Environmental Review Requirements for Public Housing Agencies.” The notice provides information and guidance regarding Public Housing Agencies’ (PHAs) compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and other related laws. NEPA requires federal agencies to consider the environmental impact of proposed actions early in the planning and decision-making process to avoid and mitigate negative impacts to human health and the environment.

The notice clarifies the applicability of environmental reviews to all PHA activities at project site(s) assisted or to be assisted by HUD and to the use of all HUD funds, including operating funds. The notice also reiterates the prohibition on using any funding without environmental clearance, and presents submission and processing requirements using a five-year submission period as long as there are no changes to the project scope or environmental conditions. The notice also discusses the when PHAs are required to perform environment reviews for administrative, management, and certain maintenance activities and for Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) activities.

HUD considers an environmental review for a specific project to be valid for up to five years, so long as there are no changes to the project scope or environmental conditions. PHAs must request an environmental review for each environmental project site every five years. The following items are the responsibility of PHAs:

A. Identify Responsible Entity;
B. Designate Environmental Project Sites;
C. Prepare the Project Description;
D. Submit Project and Environmental Information to HUD or the Responsible Entity (RE);
E. Facilitate Public and Resident Notice and Participation;
F. Wait for Authorization to Use Grant Funds;
G. Abide by Review Requirements;
H. Advise of Changes in Scope or Conditions; and
I. Maintain Appropriate Records.

If a PHA fails to comply with the above-referenced requirements or the requirements of the notice, then HUD can pursue a wide range of remedies at its administrative discretion. PHAs are also required to conform with civil rights and fair housing laws, in addition to affirmatively furthering fair housing. This includes:

  • Mandatory training with the goal to curtail future non-compliance;
  • Corrective action plan tailored to the violation;
  • Suspension of HUD funds used to finance the violating activity;
  • Recapture of HUD funds used to finance the violating activity;
  • Debarment/suspension of principals and housing authorities that engage in the noncompliant activity; and
  • All other remedies at law.

HUD Releases Notice on Automation of CFP 5-Year Plans

On Friday, December 2 HUD released Notice PIH-2016-21 (HA) titled “Guidance on Automation of Capital Fund Program 5-Year Action Plans and Budgets in the Activity Planning Module of HUD’s Energy Performance and Information Center (EPIC).” The notice modifies the submission process for Capital Fund Program (CFP) 5-Year Action Plans and Budgets (formerly referred to as Annual Statements). PHAs will now be required to submit their CFP 5-Year Action Plans and Budgets within HUD’s Energy Performance and Information Center (EPIC) system instead of the current paper submission process. Concurrently with the shift to electronic submission of 5-Year Action Plans and Budgets in EPIC, PHAs will begin using a new Budget Line Item (BLI) structure across EPIC and HUD’s Line of Credit Control System (LOCCS).

The transition to electronic submission of CFP 5-Year Action Plans and Budgets in EPIC will begin with PHAs that have March 31, 2017 Fiscal Year Ends (FYEs). The transition will then proceed quarterly, as PHAs with June 30th , September 30th , and then December 31st FYEs submit electronically.  PHAs may, on a voluntary basis and with approval of their local HUD Field Office, elect to transition to electronic submission early. PHAs with an approved 5-Year Action Plan in EPIC may revise grant amounts in the 5-Year Action Plan to reflect actual awards and may “funge”, or reschedule, approved activities from one year to another without seeking additional HUD Field Office approvals.