HUD Defines “Small Rural PHAs” and Implements parts of Small PHA Section of the Housing Act of 1937

Tomorrow HUD will publish in the Federal RegisterEconomic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act: Initial Guidance on Property Inspections and Environmental Reviews.” The act referred to in the notice is commonly call by its Senate bill number, S. 2155 and S. 2155 will be used in this post to refer to the act. NAHRO worked very closely with Congress to ensure S. 2155 provided statutory and regulatory relief to small PHAs across the country. Additionally, NAHRO also submitted comments to help guide HUD in the implementation of the provisions, many of which HUD incorporated into this notice. NAHRO is thrilled to see the critical provisions of S. 2155 being implemented!

The notice also resolves a key sticking point in the implementation of S. 2155 – what is a small rural PHA? HUD defines “small rural PHA” as a PHA that operates 550 or fewer combined Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher units and predominantly operates in a rural area. The notice takes NAHRO’s suggestions to exclude Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) units in determining unit count. The notice also draws heavily on NAHRO’s comments on how to define “predominantly operates,” taking two out of three of NAHRO’s suggestions on the definition. “Predominantly operates in a rural area” is defined as having a primary administrative building with a physical address in a rural area OR more than 50 percent of its combined Public Housing units and voucher units under Section 8(o) are in a rural area. Rural area is defined by a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau regulation. Currently there are 1,519 PHAs that qualify as a “small rural PHA” under this definitions and HUD has published a list of small rural PHAs (scroll to bottom on HUD link page).

Small Rural PHA Map - 2-26-2020
Map of Small Rural PHAs

The notice also implements potions of the property inspection and environmental review provisions of S. 2155.

Small rural PHAs that operate the Housing Choice Voucher programs can now inspect their tenant-based and project-based vouchers units every three (3) years. This new inspection schedule will begin for the small rural PHA after its next currently schedule inspection. Small rural PHAs must continue to conduct any lead safety inspection that are required under the Lead-Based Paint Poisoning Prevention Act.

Small rural PHAs will now be exempt from Environmental Reviews with respect to development or modernization projects that cost no more than $100,000. This exemption applies to any section 9(d) Capital Fund, section 9(e) Operating Fund, or section 8(o)(13) Project Based Voucher (PBV) eligible work activity by a small rural PHA at a project site with a project cost of $100,000 or less. For project with a cost of more the $100,000, the small rural PHA must complete the appropriate Environmental Review but HUD will use the rulemaking process to proposed streamlined Environmental Reviews.

NAHRO will continue to work with HUD to ensure full implementation of S. 2155, Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act.

NAHRO’s comments can be found here.

The notice can be found here.

The list of small rural PHA can be found here.

IMS-PIC down from March 13, 2020 to March 23, 2020

Earlier today, HUD sent a letter to PHA Executive Directors in which HUD states that the Inventory Management System-Public Housing Information Center (IMS/PIC) will not process 50058 submissions from March 13, 2020 to March 23, 2020. During this time, the system will be upgraded to fix a security flaw. Housing agencies are asked to not use the system during this window.

This upgrade is being done to patch a security-related exploit in the system. Current web browsers will soon receive a patch that will make them unable to use the current system because of the exploit. The upgrade will also result in reduced functionality in certain system modules like PIC inventory removal and changes to existing building and unit information. The Department is developing a plan for additional support during this time.

The Department is encouraging PHAs with programs with fiscal years that end December 31 to complete submission of their SEMAP certification prior to the system entering the shutdown (i.e., testing) phase.

The system will resume operation on March 24, 2020. At that time, the Department will publish step by step instructions for PHAs and Field Offices to address potential problems.

Questions on concerns can be directed to

Further updates may be found here.

The full letter from HUD REAC can be found here.

Vera Technical Assistance Grant Application Due Friday, Feb 28th

As previously mentioned on this blog, the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) is seeking applications for technical assistance from PHAs that would like to plan and implement reentry programs or change their policies toward people with conviction histories. Applications are due in one week on Friday, February 28, 2020.

The goals of the initiative include the following: increase housing for people with conviction histories while increasing public safety; improve the safety of public housing through the use of reentry strategies; and promote collaboration between PHAs, law enforcement, and other criminal justice stakeholders.

Housing authorities of all sizes (including those with housing choice vouchers) are encouraged to apply. Applicants must submit a letter of intent, an application narrative, and letters of support. Award announcements will be made in April.

Additional information may be found here.

IHBG Grants Released

HUD has released more than $655 million in Indian Housing Block Grants (IHBG) to Native American tribes in 38 states. The IHBG program is a formula grant enabled by the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act of  1996 (NAHASDA). The grant provides Federally recognized Indian tribes or their tribally designated housing entity (TDHE) and a limited number of state recognized tribes funds for a range of affordable housing activities on Indian reservations and Indian areas.

In HUD’s press release, HUD Secretary Ben Carson noted that “[t]hese grant funds will allow local leaders to build stronger and vibrant communities that drive more economic development.” Assistant Secretary for Public Housing R. Hunter Kurtz noted that “HUD is committed to helping Native Americans thrive and…build stable communities.”

HUD’s press release can be found here, and the final allocation summaries are posted on the Office of Native American Programs (ONAP) Codetalk website.

Housing Choice Voucher Dashboard Published

Earlier today, HUD announced that it published a Housing Choice Voucher Dashboard. The dashboard provides information about vouchers at both the state and national levels. It includes budget and leasing utilization information, reserve balance information (it highlights PHAs that have high reserves as a percentage of their budget authority and in absolute terms), attrition, per unit cost trends, and leasing potential. There is also utilization data on special purpose vouchers (HUD-VASH, FUP, Mainstream, etc.). The data is mostly taken from the voucher management system.

A tutorial on the dashboard can be found above.

The dashboard data dictionary can be found here.

The dashboard itself can be found here.

2020 Capital Funds Released

HUD has released FY 2020 Capital Fund Processing Information. The 2020 Appropriations Act provided about $2.87 billion for the Capital Fund, $95 million more than FY 2019 funding. The process for retrieving the 2020 ACC amendments is the same the same as it was 2017. More information and the list of Capital Fund awards by PHA can be found on HUD’s website.

The president’s 2021 budget proposes the elimination of the Capital Fund. The president has proposed eliminating the Capital Fund in previous budgets, but Congress has decided to fund the program at increased funding levels for the past 3 years.

Looking Back, Looking Forward – Smoke-Free Public Housing Webinar

Clean Air for All logo 2019

Clean Air For All is presenting a complimentary Smoke-Free Public Housing webinar on Thursday, February 27, 2020 from 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm eastern time.

As the Clean Air for All team wraps up a second year of smoke-free public housing support, we take a look back at lessons learned and success stories from public housing agencies across the country. Then we’ll look to the future of smoke-free housing by addressing the changing landscape of e-cigarette and marijuana regulations on clean indoor air laws, how RAD conversions impact smoke-free housing, and tips for maintaining a smoke-free policy for years to come. We are pleased to be joined by speakers from Live Smoke Free, NAHRO, the Public Health Law Center, and the Bayonne Housing Authority.

Click here to register for the Thursday, February 27, 2020 Smoke-Free Public Housing webinar.

Public Charge Rule Implementation Begins February 24, 2020

Except for in the State of Illinois, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin applying the Public Charge Final Rule to immigration applications and petitions postmarked or submitted electronically on or after February 24, 2020.

As a reminder the Public Charge Final Rule primarily applies to individuals that are applying for entry into the United States and to individuals that are temporarily in the United States and are applying for permanent residency in the United States. NAHRO has also issued an informational one-pager on the Public Charge Final Rule to provide PHAs an overview of the rule. 

USCIS as issued a press release, Question and Answer Legal Resource, and updated the USCIS Policy Manual to provide additional information on the implementation of the Public Charge Final Rule. USCIS will provide additional information on implementation in Illinois if the injunction is lifted.