HUD, IRS Announce Disaster Assistance for Victims of Hurricane Harvey

Earlier this week, HUD announced that the Department will expedite federal disaster assistance to the State of Texas and provide support to homeowners and low-income renters that are left without a home due to Hurricane Harvey.

Currently, President Trump has issued a disaster declaration for 18 counties in Texas: Aransas, Bee, Brazoria, Calhoun, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Harris, Jackson, Kleberg, Liberty, Matagorda, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria and Wharton. More counties may be added at a later date.

HUD’s disaster assistance will include: Continue reading

Interim Evaluation Illustrates Why Small Area FMRs Should be Voluntary

In mid-August, HUD published an interim evaluation which showed mixed results for the efficacy of Small Area Fair Market Rents (FMRs). Fair Market Rents are calculated by HUD on the county or metropolitan area level. HUD states that the FMR is the amount of money that would be needed to pay the gross rent (shelter rent plus utilities) of privately owned, decent, and safe rental housing of a modest nature. Fair Market Rents help determine the amount of rent covered by the voucher (i.e., the higher the FMR, the higher the potential value of the voucher). Small Area FMRs are FMRs calculated by zip code. The intended effect of Small Area FMRs is to decrease subsidies in low-opportunity (low-rent) neighborhoods and increase subsidies in high-opportunity (high-rent) neighborhoods to incentivize families to move from low-opportunity neighborhoods to high-opportunity neighborhoods.

In 2012, HUD began the Small Area FMR Demonstration (though the Demonstration uses PHAs which have been using Small Area FMRs since before 2012) which tested, among other things, the mobility incentive of Small Area FMRs across seven public housing agencies (PHAs) with varied and diverse characteristics. This new HUD interim evaluation titled “Small Area Fair Market Rent Demonstration Evaluation Interim Report” shows that Small Area FMRs have a mixed impact. Among other findings, the report has four key takeaways about the use of Small Area FMRs: 1) different housing markets are impacted differently; 2) there are more families moving into areas of opportunity; 3) there is a loss of affordable units; and 4) there is an aggregate higher cost burden for families. Understanding these findings illustrates why Small Area FMRs have both benefits and costs. Continue reading

HUD PD&R Thoughts on Implementing Small Area FMRs

HUD has published a short piece by Acting General Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research (PD&R) Todd Richardson in both HUD’s blog–the HUDdle–and on the HUDUser website as a piece titled “Message From PD&R Senior Leadership.” The piece notes that the decision to suspend the implementation of Small Area FMRs was a result of research. It goes on to note that “[w]e now have some preliminary results from a just-published interim evaluation that provides information on . . . program impacts such as changes to the availability of affordable units, average Housing [Assistance] Payments, and tenant rent burden.”

Additionally, the post offers great information on how to implement Small Area FMRs, for those PHAs which choose to implement Small Area FMRs now. The relevant information is reproduced exactly below except for some minor formatting changes.

  • Know your market.
    • Do your own market research. Does this change make more or fewer units available? Will this change cause you to have higher or lower average Housing Assistance Payments (HAP)? PHAs that operate only in high cost areas will experience a significant increase in their average HAP. PHAs that operate mostly in low cost areas may see a decrease in their average HAP, although the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016 (HOTMA) allows PHAs to grandfather payment standards for tenants that remain in place. The final rule implemented the HOTMA provision and provides additional flexibilities for PHAs in setting payment standards for families currently receiving assistance in areas where the FMR decreases.
    • Do the leg work to determine how you would set payment standards around the Small Area FMR before you have to do it. This is a major work item.
    • Think about recruiting new landlords.
    • Ideally you are ready to implement Small Area FMRs when market conditions are favorable. A soft rental market is your friend.
  • Get the back office ready.
    • This does increase your administrative costs — both one-time costs for information technology (IT) changes and the development of new procedures as well as ongoing operations costs. Start planning your administrative budget.
    • Upgrade your IT now.
    • Be prepared for a spike in moves among existing tenants. You may need to temporarily increase your capacity to conduct inspections.
    • Talk to your front-line staff about implementation before and during the process. Be quick to address misunderstandings and retrain as needed.

The Interim Small Area FMR report can be found here, while the final Small Area FMR rule can be found here.

The entire post can be found either here or here.

Update: Budget and Appropriations as August Recess Ends

As September approaches, time is running out to finalize FY 2018 spending before the beginning of the new fiscal year. Congress adjourned for August recess without making final spending decisions, leaving only 12 legislative days to put in place a bill to keep the government operational beyond the end of the fiscal year on September 30.

Making matters more complicated, the nation is set to reach its debt ceiling on September 29 and unless the ceiling is lifted or suspended, America will not have the ability to pay its current debt obligations. Additionally, the devastating Hurricane Harvey will likely require a significant investment in emergency disaster relief and could impact budget negotiations. And finally, the President has vowed to shut down the government unless funding is included to construct a border wall.

The House and the Senate have taken dramatically different approaches to the upcoming fiscal year that will need to be resolved in order to finalize spending for FY 2018. Realistically, this is unlikely to happen in 12 legislative days, so a continuing resolution (CR) is all but inevitable at this point. The question now is how long will a CR last and can a government shutdown (or greater economic crisis) be avoided?

House Update

The House is struggling to approve a budget resolution, but has been efficient in moving spending bills through committee. In June, the House Budget Committee released a draft budget resolution that provided an additional $72 billion for defense spending, while cutting non-defense programs like HUD by $5 billion. This is a violation of both the caps put in place by the Budget Control Act (BCA) and the required parity in cuts to domestic and defense spending. The proposal increased spending too much for deficit hawks, but did not increase defense spending enough for defense hawks.  After nearly two months of debate within the committee, the budget resolution was narrowly approved in July. It has not been brought to the floor yet for final consideration and it’s unclear whether it could be approved in its current state.

Meanwhile, the House Appropriations Committee drafted and approved spending bills written at the budget resolution level, making deep cuts to domestic programs. On July 17, the House Appropriations Committee voted 31-20 to advance its FY 2018 THUD bill. The bill provides $56.5 billion in funding for the bill, $1.1 billion lower than current spending levels and $8.6 billion above the President’s request for FY 2018.

Considering the President’s budget proposal to slash spending on most HUD programs and the House’s deep cuts to domestic spending, the House THUD spending bill could have been significantly worse. The bill rejects the President’s proposal to eliminate the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME programs, though it does cut each by $100 million. It also rejected an attempt by the Administration to slash the Public Housing Capital Fund by 68 percent, though it does cut the program by nearly $100 million from current spending levels.

The Appropriations Committee managed to approve all 12 appropriations bills, but only four were passed on the floor. Unfortunately, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) was not considered on the floor.

Senate Update

The Senate has not considered a budget resolution, but did pass six bills through the full committee, including THUD. The Senate wrote spending bills at the FY 2017 cap level, which is higher than FY 2018 and would trigger across-the-board sequestration cuts. Unless a budget resolution is agreed to, cuts to domestic spending are inevitable.

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted unanimously on July 27 to approve its FY 2018 THUD bill. The bill provides $60.058 billion in funding overall, $2.407 billion higher than current funding levels and $3.5 billion higher than the House THUD bill. Considering the constraints of the FY 2018 budget cap, the increased THUD allocation is a huge win and allowed appropriators to avoid making the same types of cuts seen in the House THUD bill.

Because of the higher overall spending cap, the Senate’s THUD bill provides level funding for CDBG and HOME, and increases spending for the Public Housing Capital Fund. It also provides $175 million more for Ongoing Administrative Fees.

The Senate has not considered any bills on the floor, including THUD.


When Congress resumes work in September, the House is expected to immediately consider an omnibus spending package to approve all remaining appropriations bills. It’s unclear whether this package of bills written at a controversial spending level can receive enough votes to be approved. Members were instructed to submit amendments to the omnibus bill during the August recess and more than 900 amendments were received by the Rules Committee.

Even if the omnibus is approved by the House, it is unlikely to be approved by the Senate, and it is likely that a CR will need to be approved to give Congress more time to work out the differences between House and Senate spending levels. It’s unclear at this point how much time Congress will give itself, though most initial CRs have been three months long, running out in early- to mid- December.

The passage of a CR could be made more complicated by the need for emergency disaster relief as a result of Hurricane Harvey; in recent years, some lawmakers have insisted that disaster relief be offset by other spending cuts and this debate could reemerge.

It could also be impacted by the debt ceiling, which is estimated the nation will reach on September 29. Recently, the nation has extended the debt ceiling without much debate or fanfare, but some members of Congress and the Administration have said that spending cuts will need to be made in order for them to agree to raising the debt ceiling in September. The last time spending cuts were required to raise the debt ceiling, the Budget Control Act and sequestration were put into place. It’s not clear yet whether the debate next month will rise to that level or if a “clean” extension of the ceiling will be allowed without any cuts.

Additionally, the President has threatened on multiple occasions to shut down the government unless funding is included in FY 2018 to begin construction on a border wall. It is unclear whether he intends to prevent a short-term CR from being put in place next month or if he is aiming for a fight later when FY 2018 spending is being finalized.



HUD Releases Notice on RAD Cap Increase and Rent Setting

Tomorrow, August 23, HUD will release a Notice in the Federal Register increasing the unit cap for the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) and setting rents for units accepted under the increase. The FY 2017 enacted budget expanded the 185,000 unit cap on Public Housing conversions to 225,000 units and changed the September 30, 2018 deadline for submission of RAD applications under the first component to September 30, 2020.

PHAs that have already submitted Letters of Interest (LOI) to reserve their position on the RAD waiting list are eligible for award under the expansion if the PHA submits a complete RAD Application, Portfolio Award, or Multi-phase Award for the number of units identified in their LOI within 60 days of publication of the Notice.

HUD will use rent levels based on the FY 16 RAD rent base year for CHAPs issued beyond the 185,000-unit cap and for any replacement awards made as a result of revocations or withdraws that occurred after May 5, 2017. HUD will use rent levels based on the FY 14 RAD rent base year for replacement awards made under the 185,000-unit cap as a result of revocations or withdraws that occurred prior to May 5, 2017.

PHAs that are issued Multi-phase Awards after May 5, 2017 will have until September 30, 2020 to submit an application for the final phase of the project. HUD may approve extensions up to September 30, 2020 for Multi-phase Awards made prior to May 5, 2017 on a case-by-case basis.


HUD Study Finds Small Area FMRs Have Mixed Results

Last week, HUD published a report titled “Small Area Fair Market Rent Demonstration Evaluation: Interim Report,” which provides preliminary findings from HUD’s Small Area Fair Market Rent (FMR) Demonstration. The Small Area FMR Demonstration is a Demonstration of seven PHAs that have implemented Small Area FMRs in a variety of housing markets to test their effectiveness. The potential adverse impacts to Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program participants that this report identifies is one of the reasons that HUD suspended implementation of mandatory Small Area FMRs.

While NAHRO is still in the process of reading through and analyzing the report, the key takeaways from it on the imposition of Small Area FMRs are the following: different housing markets are impacted differently; there are more families moving into areas of opportunity; there is a loss of affordable units; and there is an aggregate higher cost burden for families.

The evaluation looks at the effects of Small Area FMRs on 1) potential access to opportunity; 2) actual access to opportunity; and 3) costs and rents. Additionally, the study looks at costs to PHAs. Click below for a brief summary of the evaluation findings.

Continue reading

HUD Extends Section 3 “Past Due” Reporting Deadline to December 31, 2017

HUD has revised the July 7, 2017 SPEARS Update that set a reporting deadline of July 31, 2017 for “past due” (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, & some 2017 report years) reports.

On August 14, 2017, HUD issued a SPEARS Update that extended the reporting deadline for “past due” reports to December 31, 2017. The SPEARS Update is available at

HUD’s Section 3 office is also aware of issues in submitting adjusted reports (6, 9, or 15 month reports) due to the reporting year switching to the PHA fiscal year. It is anticipated that HUD will update the SPEARS system to correct this issue in the very near future.

More information on Section 3 reporting is available at

HUD Releases ’17 FSS NOFA

On August 16, HUD announced that the FY2017 Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) is available via HUD notes that there are several changes from the FY2017 NOFA, including a revised HUD 52651 Form (now an electronic fillable form), and a 3 percent increase in the maximum salary that may be requested per FSS Coordinator. The maximum salary has increased from $69,000 to $72,000.

A pre-recorded webcast will be made available soon with more information.

FSS applications are due September 15, 2017.

HUD Suspends Mandatory Implementation of Small Area FMRs

Earlier this morning, HUD sent letters to PHAs suspending the mandatory implementation of Small Area Fair Market Rents (FMRs) for 23 of the 24 metropolitan areas which were originally designated as areas in which PHAs would have to use Small Area FMRs. Small Area FMRs are FMRs calculated by zip code, instead of a wider metropolitan area. Among other concerns, there was widespread concern among industry groups and PHAs that the mandatory imposition of Small Area FMRs would mean that new program participants would receive lower voucher subsidy amounts and without appropriate wrap-around services would be unable to find units in neighborhoods which would receive higher subsidies.

NAHRO has long stressed that the quick imposition of mandatory Small Area FMRs would lead to adverse consequences for program participants and is pleased that HUD listened to NAHRO’s concerns and made implementation of Small Area FMRs voluntary. HUD has only suspended the mandatory imposition of Small Area FMRs. PHAs may still choose to voluntarily apply them, if it is the appropriate action for their program participants and community. All other aspects of the Small Area FMR rule remain in place. The suspension will last until October 1, 2019 (for a 2020 implementation), unless the Small Area FMR rule is changed. The Small Area FMR mandatory implementation remains in effect for the Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX Metro Division.

In a letter to HUD, NAHRO previously suggested suspending the Small Area FMR designation using authority under 24 CFR § 888.113(c)(4)(iii). HUD followed NAHRO’s suggestion and suspended the mandatory imposition of Small Area FMRs using the NAHRO-suggested provision. NAHRO is pleased that HUD recognized the potential adverse impacts to program participants and is following the NAHRO-suggested steps to avoid those consequences. NAHRO looks forward to continuing to work with HUD collaboratively to find solutions to tackle tough problems.

NAHRO’s letter to HUD recommending suspending the mandatory imposition of Small Area FMRs can be found here.

NAHRO’s comment letter to HUD on the Small Area FMR rule can be found here.

HUD Releases Guidance on Lead Free Rule

On August 10, HUD released Notice PIH 2017-13 (HA)/OHHLHC 2017-01, titled “Guidance on HUD’s Lead Safe Housing Rule Pertaining to Elevated Blood Lead Levels for the Public Housing, Housing Choice Voucher, and Project-Based Voucher Programs.” This Notice provides information to public housing agencies (PHAs), Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) property owners and Project-Based Voucher (PBV) property owners on the required actions they must take when a child in a family receiving HCV or PBV assistance is identified as having an elevated blood lead level (EBLL). On January 13, HUD published its “Requirements for Notification, Evaluation and Reduction of Lead-Based Paint Hazards in Federally Owned Residential Property and Housing Receiving Federal Assistance; Response to Elevated Blood Lead Levels” (Lead-Free) final rule that amended HUD’s lead-based paint regulations (LSHR) on reducing blood lead levels in children under age 6 who reside in federally-owned or -assisted housing that was built pre-1978. The final rule also formally adopted the revised definition of “elevated blood lead levels” (EBLLs) in children under the age of 6 in accordance to the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The compliance date for the final rule was July 13.

Continue reading