HUD will publish it’s Notice of Demonstration to Assess the National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate (NSPIRE) and Associated Protocols in the Federal Register tomorrow. 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. Through the Notice, HUD is seeking comment on the proposed, voluntary demonstration. Comments are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. The demonstration is also anticipated to begin 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. Interested agencies may pre-register for the demonstration here.
According to HUD, the NSPIRE demonstration aims to improve inspection standards, protocols, and processes. The demonstration has three major components: 1) three types of inspections, 2) three categories of deficiencies, and 3) three inspectable areas. The three types of inspections include self-inspections completed by PHAs and property owners and agencies, inspections conducted by contractors and/or federal inspectors, and those conducted solely by federal inspectors. The three categories of deficiency include: health and safety, function and operability, and condition and appearance. Lastly, the three inspectable areas include inside (common areas and building systems), outside (building site, building envelope, and building systems outside the building), and unit (interior of the unit).
HUD will develop new inspection systems through the NSPIRE demonstration. This includes a system that POAs can use to self-inspect their properties, create work orders, and submit results to HUD and stream property files, certificates, and work orders directly to HUD. HUD will also create a system of more objective standards and simpler protocols that will enable trained inspectors to better detect, identify, and record deficiencies and report those to HUD. These objective standards will be in the form of Critical to Quality (CTQ) assessment standards. CTQs will be a well-defined subset of the entire set of NSPIRE Standards. This subset will allow inspectors to evaluate fewer standards than the self-inspection, but remain highly effective in determining substandard conditions. This subset will be developed later in the demonstration. Prior to the start of the demonstration, HUD will also publish a minimum, standardized list of exigent health and safety (EH&S) items. These items must be corrected, remedied, or abated 24 hours of receipt of notification of such deficiencies from HUD. This list will be similar to the EH&S items in UPCS and the life-threatening conditions included in UPCS-V.
The NSPIRE demonstration will also test the transition to automated systems/processing through which POAs will submit inspection results, work orders, certificates, and property profiles. Participants are allowed to either use their own software, or use software provided by HUD. Participants that opt to use their own software are responsible for having and maintaining their own IT resources and support.
HUD is seeking participation from 4,500 properties across all regions in the demonstration. However, properties located HUD’s Region III will receive preference as the initial cohort. Properties within other regions will be added on a regional, rolling basis, through the demonstration period. HUD has already opened pre-registration for the demonstration. Participants in the demonstration will generally not be subject to both and NSPIRE and UPCS inspection. However, if during the demonstration HUD believes substandard conditions exist, the Department may require a UPCS inspection to be performed. Any NSPIRE scores agencies receive during the demonstration will be advisory and only used to refine the demonstration.
Comments on the demonstration are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, and the demonstration will begin 60 days after the publication in the Federal Register. Agencies can pre-register for the demonstration here.