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.

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