Up to $35 million in funding has been released through a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for the Resident Opportunity and Self Sufficiency (ROSS) Program on grants. gov. ROSS grant funding is provided to eligible applicants to hire a Service Coordinator to asses the needs of Public and Indian Housing residents and link them to supportive services. In the case of elderly or disabled individuals, the Service Coordinator links residents to services to help them age in place.
ROSS funding may be used to pay the coordinator’s salary and fringe benefits, travel and training expenses, and administrative costs. Applications are due October 15 at grants. gov. Please email any questions to ROSS-PIH@hud.gov.
On August 14, the Department of Homeland Security will publish a final rule titled “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds.” The advance copy of the final rule published in the Public Inspection of the Federal Register can be found here.
According to the law, any individual who is applying for a visa or for admission to the United States is inadmissible if he or she is likely at any time to become a public charge. Currently, however, public charge is not defined. The final rule would define a “public charge” based on the receipt of financial support from the general public through government funding (i.e. public benefits).” This includes individuals that receive federal rental assistance. The individual would need to receive one or more designated public benefits, including but not limited to federal rental assistance, for more than 12 months in the aggregate within any 36-month period to meet the threshold.
The final rule goes into effect 60 days after being published in the Federal Register. NAHRO is currently reading through and analyzing the final “Public Charge” rule, and will provide more information to our members in the coming week.
On August 5, HUD posted the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for the Choice Neighborhoods (CN) Implementation Grants on grants.gov. In FY 2019, Congress appropriated $150 million to the Choice Neighborhoods and permitted HUD to obligate any unobligated funds from prior year Appropriations in the FY19 NOFA (read more here, members only).
Opportunity Insights–a Harvard-based group of researchers and policy analysts, including economist Raj Chetty, who analyze data to help stakeholders make more informed policy decisions–has published a paper titled “Creating Moves to Opportunity: Experimental Evidence on Barriers to Neighborhood Choice.” The researchers, working in cooperation with the Seattle Housing Authority and King County Housing Authority, found that when families received the Creating Moves to Opportunity treatment (the treatment consisted of customized search assistance, landlord engagement, and short-term financial assistance), the fraction of families who moved to high-upward-mobility areas increased by forty percent between a control group and a treatment group.
The researchers found several insights during the course of their work. First, they found that in the Seattle area, Creating Moves to Opportunity (CMTO) interventions increased the fraction of families who moved to high-upward-mobility areas by forty percent between a control group and a treatment group. The researchers also found that utilization rates among groups remained the same (i.e., those families that chose to move to high-upward-mobility areas were able to use their vouchers at the same rate as the control group); all families across racial and ethnic groups benefited from the treatment; and families in opportunity areas were more satisfied with their new neighborhoods. The researchers also found that the customized manner of providing services according to each family’s need was crucial. Finally, the researchers found that other policy interventions such as higher payment standards (e.g., Small Area Fair Market Rents [SAFMR]) by themselves or providing additional rental information in a standardized manner were not effective. Indeed, on page 38 of the study, the researchers write “[o]ur analysis . . . shows that raising payment standards in more expensive neighborhoods — as is typically done in SAFMR policies — does not necessarily induce families to move to higher-opportunity areas.”
The CMTO services consisted of three prongs (see pages 12 and 13 of the study):
- Search Assistance (page 12);
- Information about high-opportunity areas and the benefits of moving to such areas for families with young children;
- Help in making rental applications more competitive by preparing rental documents and addressing issues in credit and rental history; and
- Search assistance to help families identify available units, connect with landlords in opportunity areas, and complete the application process;
- Increased Landlord Engagement (page 13);
- Explaining to landlords in high-opportunity areas the program and encouraging them to lease their units;
- Damage mitigation fund to cover possible damages to a unit not included in the security deposit (up to $2,000);
- Expedited lease-up process for landlords through fast inspections and streamlined paperwork;
- Short-term Financial Assistance (page 13);
- Funds for application screening fees, security deposits, and other expenses that stood in the way of lease-up;
- Payments were customized by staff to address the specific impediments a family faced; and
- On average families received $1,070 for these payments.
The researchers stressed that these services were tailored to meet the needs of individual families.
Defining Opportunity Areas
Opportunity areas were defined using Census tracts that have upward mobility in approximately the top third of the distribution across tracts within Seattle and King County. The definitions were adjusted to provide for contiguous areas and to take into account changes in neighborhoods. They were defined using data from the Opportunity Atlas.
Slides on the study can be found here.
A non-technical summary can be found here.
The full study can be found here.
In late July, HUD published a notice titled “Tenant Protection Vouchers for Foster Youth to Independence Initiative” [PIH 2019-20 (HA)]. This notice would allow PHAs that do not have a Family Unification Program (FUP), but that have a Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program, to request a tenant protection voucher to house a FUP-eligible youth.
Public Housing Agencies must receive a referral from a partnering Public Child Welfare Agency (PCWA) to request the tenant protection voucher. While not required, HUD strongly encourages participation of a Continuum of Care (CoC). Requests may be as small as one voucher up to 25 vouchers per PHA for a fiscal year. The funding for this initiative is not from the Family Unification Program account, but from the tenant protection voucher account and is subject to the availability of funding in that account. These vouchers sunset after being used and are not to be project-based.
- PHA Eligibility Requirements:
- PHA must have an HCV Program;
- PHA must not administer the Family Unification Program (FUP);
- PHA must amend its administrative plan;
- PHA must accept FUP-eligible youth;
- FUP-eligible youth: Youth that have met the following criteria:
- Attained at least 18 years of age and not more than 24 years of age;
- Left foster care, or will leave foster care, within 90 days; and
- Are homeless or are at risk of being homeless;
- PHA must determine eligibility;
- PHA must have a partnership with a Public Child Welfare Agency (PCWA);
- PCWA Roles and Responsibilities:
- Must identify FUP-eligible youth;
- Must have a system of prioritization;
- Must provide written certification to PHA that youth is FUP-eligible; and
- Must provide supportive services, including:
- Basic life skills information (money management; meal preparation; and access to health care, etc.);
- Counseling on compliance with rental lease requirements of the HCV program;
- Providing reasonable assurances to rental property owners;
- Job counseling; and
- Educational and career advancement counseling;
- PCWA Partnership Agreement (May take the form of a memorandum of understanding or letters of intent):
- Must define FUP-eligible youth;
- Must list supportive services and provide them for 36 months;
- Must address PHA responsibilities;
- Must address PCWA responsibilities; and
- Must address Continuum of Care–if involved–responsibilities, including:
- Integrating the referral process into the CoC’s coordinated entry process;
- Identifying services; and
- Making referrals of FUP-eligible youth to PCWAs.
The full notice may be found here.