Last week HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD) issued two memorandums; one of the availability of waivers and suspensions of the HOME Program requirements in response to COVID-19 pandemic and the other on suspensions and waivers to facilitate use of HOME-Assisted Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) and short-term assistance response to COVID-19 pandemic. These memos can be found on the HUD Exchange.
The memo on waivers and suspensions of HOME Program requirements in response to COVID-19 provides guidance and the necessary statutory suspensions and regulatory waivers to allow HOME participating jurisdictions (PJs) to address immediate housing needs and help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. A PJ that intends to implement the HOME statutory suspensions and/or regulatory waivers must send written notification via email to the CPD Division in its local field office. Waivers and suspensions include those available only to major disaster areas and those that are available to all PJs.
PJs in major disaster areas are allowed to use 25 percent of their FY19 and FY20 allocations and program income for administrative and planning costs. HUD is also waiving the CHDO set-aside for PJs in major disaster areas for fiscal years ’17, ’18, ’19, and ’20 allocations. PJs in major disaster areas are also allowed to provide up to 10 percent of 2019 and 2020 HOME allocations to CHDOs as operating assistance and to permit a CHDO to receive funding to fill operating budget shortfalls, even if the amount exceeds to the higher of $50,000 or 50 percent of its annual budget through June 30, 2021. Lastly, PJs in major disaster areas are allowed to reduce their affordable housing matching contributions through September 30, 2021.
HUD CPD has also released waivers that can be used by any PJ. PJs are allowed to reduce their comment period for substantial amendments to their consolidated plans to 5 days for FY 2020. PJs are also allowed to use self-certification of income in lieu of source documentation to determine eligibility for HOME assistance of persons requiring emergency assistance relating to COVID-19 through December 31, 2020. PJs can waive ongoing periodic inspections of HOME-assisted rental housing and annual inspection of TBRA units through December 31, 2020. PJs must complete inspections to units that would have been subject to on-going inspections during the waiver period within 120 days after the end of the waiver period. Insular areas are allowed to request a one-year extension on the four-year project completion requirement through December 31, 2020. HUD will also waive the nine-month deadline for sale of homebuyer units built with HOME funds. PJs that need to use HOME funds for operating reserves of troubled HOME projects will not need HUD approval through December 31, 2020. Lastly, HUD is providing PJs an extended period to respond to any findings of noncompliance in recognition of unanticipated circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
HUD’s second memo provides guidance to PJs that use HOME TBRA funds to facilitate urgent housing assistance to communities and families experiencing financial hardships. PJs in major disaster areas can waive the requirement to amend Consolidated Plans to include an analysis of local market conditions and certify that the use of HOME funds for TBRA is an essential element of the consolidated plan. PJs in major disaster areas can also waive their requirement to establish written tenant selection criteria for their TBRA programs. PJs are allowed to reduce the comment period for substantial amendments to their consolidated plans to 5 days.
PJs can waive the requirement to conduct a rent comparison prior to providing rental assistance. PJs are also allowed to pay the full cost of monthly utilities in addition to rental assistance and security deposit payments for new and existing TBRA families affected by COVID-19. PJs may also provide up to 100 percent subsidy for rent, security deposit payments, and utility bills paid by tenants affected by COVID-19. The need for PJs to establish utility allowances for different types and sizes of units for its TBRA program is also eliminated. These provisions will remain in effect through December 31, 2020.
HUD is waiving the requirement that rental assistance contracts must begin on the first day of the term of lease. PJs can also waive the requirement that leases must have a term of not less than one year to assist individuals that are already in rental units but are unable to pay their rent due to COVID-19. PJs are also allowed to have families self-certify their income in lieu of providing source documentation. These provisions will remain in effect through December 31, 2020.
Lastly, HUD is waiving HQS requirements for HOME TBRA units and annual inspection requirements through December 31, 2020. However, PJs must conduct physical inspections within 120 days following the end of the waiver period and minimize risk that housing continues to meet HQS.