Pre-Registration for NSPIRE Demonstration Opened

Yesterday, HUD opened a pre-registration for agencies interested in participating in the NSPIRE Demonstration. The NSPIRE demonstration will change the way that public housing agencies, owners, and agents (POAs) inspect public housing properties. HUD’s Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) wants to ensure that public housing units are adequately maintained, so they are developing the NSPIRE protocol to emphasize regular upkeep and maintenance of units throughout the year, rather than immediately before inspections. NSPIRE scores will be advisory, and agencies will keep their current UPCS scores during their participation in the demonstration.

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HUD Publishes Study About Attracting Landlords to the Housing Choice Voucher Program

In February, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) continued exploring how to increase participation in the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program with a paper by their Multidisciplinary Research Team titled “Landlord Participation Study.” The study found that the most common method for incentivizing landlord participation is increasing payment standards, though many of the methods described below are still relatively new. However, HUD believes that these landlord incentives may apply to rental housing markets across the country.

Conclusions about Rental Markets

The study was conducted in two parts: a quantitative analysis of administrative data and a qualitative set of interviews with nine innovative Public Housing Authorities (PHAs). The primary quantitative findings are as follows:

  • vouchers per landlord increased from 2010 to 2016, from 2.6 to 3.1;
  • the concentration of vouchers is increasing mainly in neighborhoods with higher rates of poverty, unemployment, and residents without high school degrees; and
  • the change in voucher concentration is unequal across states.

The qualitative interviews confirmed that three common hypotheses about why landlords decline to participate in HCV programs are financial concerns, administrative burdens, and negative perceptions of voucher tenants. These interviews revealed several key points about rental markets:

  • each PHA interviewed works in a competitive place to find housing;
  • PHAs frequently have to increase payment standards, the amount that they pay to landlords to assist tenants with vouchers;
  • tenants frequently need help with more than rent, such as searching for units and paying security deposits; and
  • supply and demand for housing can become unbalanced due to other local housing factors.

Why Landlords Do Not Participate

Staff identified three primary concerns when asked about the most important reason why landlords do not participate in the HCV program: five PHAs answered with financial or profitability considerations, 3 named concerns about the bureaucratic and administrative process, and one cited negative attitudes about voucher holders. Specifically, PHAs mentioned anecdotes similar to the following:

  • low payment standards sometimes made vouchers unprofitable for landlords;
  • fair market rents (FMRs) can adjust slowly to increasing rents;
  • money sometimes trumps the social mission to landlords;
  • neither the hassle of dealing with a bureaucracy nor concerns that PHAs do not value landlords’ time exist in the free market; and
  • stigmas about voucher-holders exist.

Incentives to Encourage Landlord Participation

Researchers asked staff from the nine PHAs selected for this study about what activities they have begun to overcome landlords’ concerns. First, in order to build confidence in the profitability of the HCV program, the most common approach has been increasing payment standards. Other frequent activities include:

  • helping tenants pay security deposits or negotiating other arrangements regarding damages;
  • offering bonuses to landlords for joining the program; and
  • making it easier to complete administrative steps and communicate with the PHA.

Second, the most common strategies for simplifying the bureaucracy for landlords involve altering inspection requirements to make the process easier and implementing landlord portals to facilitate communication and conduct business quickly. Staff also mentioned creating ways for landlords to inform PHAs about tenant compliance and making other processes like payment electronic or automatic.

Finally, PHAs offer an array of strategies to change negative views of tenants, most of which are based on strengthening ties between landlords and tenants through communication. The most evidence-based activity for overcoming negative stereotypes is the District of Columbia Housing Authority’s “Meet-and-Lease event” model, in which PHAs bring landlords and tenants together to facilitate lease-ups. PHAs have also implemented regular landlord communications, dedicated communication positions, and information campaigns.

This summary has been a brief overview of the “Landlord Participation Study.” The full paper contains more detailed lists of anecdotes and analysis and can be found here.

Celebrate Year 1 of the PH Smoke-Free Rule – Complimentary Webinar – July 18 @ 12:30pm ET

Join Clean Air For All, a joint effort between NAR-SAAH, NAHRO, and Live Smoke Free on Thursday, July 18 at 12:30pm eastern time, for a live discussion and Q&A on the “Instituting Smoke-Free Public Housing” final HUD rule. Participants will hear a brief update on the rule and will be able to submit questions to NAR-SAAH, NAHRO, and Live Smoke Free staff. Have your questions about the rule, cessation resources, and enforcement answered. These calls are intended for those working and living in affordable housing. Everyone is welcome to attend all of the calls and hear the various perspectives.

Registration for the webinar can be done at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6659582895810385675?source=NAHRO.

This month’s Connect Call is all about the anniversary of HUD’s smoke-free rule. We will discuss what is going well in smoke-free public housing and challenges PHAs face maintaining smoke-free policies. Participants will hear about ways to celebrate their PHA’s smoke-free policy, success stories, and how to find resources to improve compliance and enforcement.

At the end of the Connect Call, Clean Air for All will raffle off a Smoke-Free Public Housing Party in a Box to one lucky participant. The box contains everything a PHA needs to throw a smoke-free celebration for approximately 30 residents.

Smoke-Free Public Housing Party in a Box includes:
• Streamers, balloons, and 6 table covers
• 6 table tent decorations
• 30 magnetic clip giveaways
• Educational literature for residents
• Smoke-free housing bingo card game
• Gift certificate for 1 sheet cake from local bakery

Registration for the webinar can be done at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6659582895810385675?source=NAHRO

NAHRO Submits Comment Letters on Mixed-Immigration-Status rule and FMR Methodology

Mixed Immigration Status Proposed Rule

On July 5, NAHRO submitted comments on HUD’s proposed immigration rule. The proposed rule, if implemented, would terminate federal housing assistance for families with mixed-immigration-statuses.

The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials believes that the current verification of eligible status system should be left in place. The changes in the proposed rule would unnecessarily hurt families and children, including U.S. citizens, and add additional administrative burden, all without the commensurate benefits suggested in the proposal. The current subsidy proration policy decouples the size of the family from the federal benefit received. This policy has been in place for over two decades and providers of assisted housing, particularly those most impacted by this proposal that serve many mixed-status families, have not vocalized any hardships or desire to change the policy.

In its comment letter to HUD, NAHRO offers the following recommendations:

  1. Make no changes to the current eligible status verification regulations;
  2. If unwilling to follow the first recommendation, then restrict application of the new rule to new applicants of covered programs; and
  3. If unwilling to follow either of the first two recommendations, then take the steps and adopt the recommended language in NAHRO’s comment letter before implementing the proposed rule.

The Department will still be accepting comments until end of the day, July 9th. We encourage all of our members to submit comments in opposition to this rule. We also urge members to use their own language in writing comments, so that they are not automatically screened out before being read. Comments may be submitted here.

The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Official’s full comment letter can be found here.

FMR Methodology Changes

On July 5, NAHRO submitted comments on HUD’s proposed changes in how it calculates FMRs. The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Official’s comment letter can be found here.

New Voucher Funding Announced

Mainstream Vouchers
The Department recently published a new Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for new Mainstream vouchers. This NOFA makes available a $150 million for additional vouchers. The Department expects to make 300 awards from this amount with a minimum amount of $20,000 per project period to a maximum amount of $3 million per project period. These vouchers are to assist non-elderly persons with disabilities who are transitioning out of institutional or other segregated settings, at serious risk of institutionalization, currently experiencing homelessness, previously experienced homelessness and currently a client in a permanent supportive housing or rapid rehousing project, or those at risk of experiencing homelessness. The application deadline is Sept. 9, 2019.

The full Mainstream voucher NOFA can be found here.

HUD-VASH Vouchers
The Department recently published a new notice for new HUD-VASH Vouchers. The notice, titled “Registration of Interest for HUD-VASH Vouchers,” announces the availability of $40 million for approximately 5,000 vouchers. These vouchers enable homeless veterans and their families to access affordable housing and supportive services. The registration of interest deadline is August 19, 2019.

The full HUD-VASH notice can be found here.

Presenters Updated! Tomorrow!! Complimentary PH Unit Preservation Webinar – July 2, 1pm ET

LAST CHANCE TO REGISTER. NAHRO is hosting a complimentary Public Housing Unit Preservation Webinar tomorrow, Tuesday, July 2, at 1pm eastern time. Join Andy Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Nampa (ID) Housing Authority; Edward Mayer, Executive Director of the Housing Authority of the County of Butte (CA); and Georgi Banna, NAHRO’s Director of Policy and Program Development who will share and overview of the preservation options and will their experiences and decision making process in preserving their Public Housing units.

This session is for agencies of all sizes from the smallest to the largest and will discuss HUD’s outreach, the options and first-hand PHA experiences. Below is information on the session and the registration link.

Public Housing Preservation Options – The PHA Perspective

Has HUD reached out to your agency to discuss the future of your public housing? Join us for this complimentary session to review your options, and the NAHRO Policy team is here to provide more information and help sort through a lot of the chatter. Are you interested in joining the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), using the Section 18 Demolition/Disposition program, removing your Declaration of Trust, participating in a streamlined voluntary conversion process, or continuing in public housing? We’ll provide overviews of the options available to PHAs of all sizes and discuss HUD’s plans for the future. We will also be joined by Andy Rodriguez of the Nampa (ID) Housing Authority and Edward Mayer of the Housing Authority of the County of Butte (CA), who will share their experiences and decision making process in preserving their Public Housing.

Please register for Public Housing Preservation Options – The PHA Perspective on Jul 2, 2019 1:00 PM EDT at:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4425060811873671691?source=blog2

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.