Mobility Demonstration Notice to be Published Tomorrow

Tomorrow, a notice titled “Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers: Implementation of the Housing Choice Voucher Mobility Demonstration” will be published in the Federal Register. This notice implements $53 million worth of funding ($10 million for new vouchers, $40 million for services, and $3 million for research) to implement a mobility demonstration program. The purpose of the demonstration is to evaluate the effectiveness of mobility-related strategies in encouraging families to move to lower-poverty areas.

The notice states guidelines by which the demonstration will be governed. New vouchers–and the mobility-related services that will accompany those vouchers–must be provided to families with children. Services include pre-move services, housing search assistance, family financial assistance, landlord recruitment, and post-move services. Public Housing Agencies that are eligible to participate in the demonstration include PHA partnerships, consortia with high-performing Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) programs, consortia with small PHA(s), and certain single agencies. There are certain other eligibility requirements. The Department must submit a report to Congress within five years of implementation.

Applications will be due on October 13, 2020 before midnight ET.

Staff at NAHRO are still in the process of reading through the notice and NAHRO members can expect additional updates.

A pre-publication copy of the notice can be found here.

The Department’s Mobility Demonstration page can be found here.

Tomorrow, Wed., July 15th, Deadline to Apply for HCV Set-Aside Funds

Earlier today, HUD sent two emails reminding PHAs with Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) programs that tomorrow, Wed. July 15th, was the last day to apply for the following:

  • HCV Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) set-aside funding;
  • Additional administrative fees;
  • Blended administrative fee rates; and
  • Higher administrative fee rates.

These alternative funding options are described in HUD’s notice titled “Implementation of the Federal Fiscal Year (FYY) 2020 Funding Provisions for the Housing Choice Voucher program” (PIH 2020-04). These funds were allocated by the fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations bill. They are distinct from the emergency supplemental funding appropriated by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the majority of which HUD has not allocated nor announced distribution mechanisms for.

Public housing agencies with questions should contact their Financial Management Center (FMC) financial analyst or the Financial Management Division at 2020SpecialFees@hud.gov.

Expanding Housing Access During Coronavirus

The following is a guest blog post by Jacqueline Altamirano Marin, Program Associate at the Vera Institute of Justice.

Interview with Alan Zais, Illinois Reentry Task Force member and Executive Director of the Winnebago County Housing Authority

As much of the country continues to observe stay-at-home orders, some of the most vulnerable members of our communities, including people leaving prisons and jails, continue to struggle with access to safe and stable housing. Housing organizations have sprung into action to create guides that help Public Housing Authorities (PHA) not only reunite returning community members with their friends and families but also provide safe reentry during these unprecedented times. PHAs can take this time to rethink their policies towards people with conviction histories. In this conversation, the Vera Institute of Justice talks to Alan Zais, Illinois Reentry Task Force member and Executive Director of the Winnebago County Housing Authority about what housing authorities can do to help people reentering find safe homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

  1. We know the Illinois Department of Corrections has released 4,000 people in response to the pandemic. How are you and other housing authority directors talking about housing access for people with conviction histories during COVID-19?

The pandemic that affected so many in prison was just one part—those released had the trauma of being exposed and then the trauma of trying to find a place they could afford to live. Housing authorities have needed to be sensitive both to the trauma and the need to provide housing to impact against any like surge in recidivism. Housing authorities also have finite resources and waitlists that can have applicants waiting months to years [to secure housing].  It’s a complex problem, but fortunately, one easy solution is to let released people reunite with their families that are already in housing.

The pandemic is just one piece of this moment. The protests prompted by the deaths of George Floyd and many others have brought the focus to the inequities Black Americans face in criminal charges, convictions, and criminal histories. At this moment, housing authorities can help their communities make these transformational changes to recognize [that] how we currently review criminal histories can be inconsistent from one agency to another and based on a conviction system that is inequitable and disproportionate towards people of color.  

All of this has dramatically raised the conversation of housing access for persons with criminal histories to a high profile and urgent discussion.

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HUD PIH Provides Updates on FAQs and Eviction Prevention and Stability Toolkit

On Thursday, July 9th, HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) hosted a conference call providing updates on several items, including PIH Notice 2020-13 (which extends most of the COVID-19 related waivers to December 31st and adds certain new waivers); frequently discussed topics; an eviction and stability toolkit; and new developments in the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program.  

Department officials provided updates on the new waiver notice during the first part of the call. Each PHA continues to have discretion to choose which waivers to adopt and use, and must notify the public, if it chooses to use any waiver or alternative requirement. The notice adds six new waivers: 

  • HCV-11: Youth using Family Unification Vouchers may continue to receive housing assistance six months past the 36-month limit.  
  • HCV-12: PHAs may accept referrals from child welfare agencies for youths leaving foster care within 120 days.  
  • HCV-13: For families experiencing hardship in the last year of their homeownership term, PHAs may extend homeownership assistance for up to one year.  
  • HCV-14: Units under a Project Based Voucher (PBV) contract with zero housing assistance payments may remain on contract after 180 days. Public Housing Agencies may resume Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) should the family’s income change to require a HAP payment. This flexibility is available until the end of 2020. 
  • PH-11: Designated Housing Plans may be extended through the end of 2020 if they are set to expire beforehand, but PHAs will need to submit a renewal request 60 days prior to December 31st, 2020.  
  • PH-12: PHAs may waive the requirement to inspect each project during CY 2020, but must complete inspections during CY 2021. PHAs must also keep units in good working order and complete exterior inspections. If a PHA chooses not to use this waiver, HUD encourages use of Remote Video Inspections (RVI) instead. 

The notice also makes some additional changes. For Housing Quality Standards (HQS) waivers, where the PHA has accepted an owner’s certification, an inspection must be conducted within 1 year of the owner certification. For PHA’s that employ biennial inspections, the PHA will be required to perform an inspection as soon as reasonably possible, but not later than 1 year from the date when the biennial inspection would have occurred. The period to informally adopt changes to a PHA’s administrative plan or a PHA’s Admission and Continued Occupancy Plan (ACOP) ends on September 31. The PHA must formally adopt the changes by December 31. 

The HUD officials then provided updates about frequent topics of interest. These topics included the effective date of interim recertifications;  calculating income for hazard pay and other unemployment insurance related topics; planning for the end of the eviction moratorium; privacy concerns; eligible uses of funding; a reminder that Violence Against Women Act guidance remains in effect; and Remote Video Inspections. 

The Department officials then reminded call participants that HUD has posted an Eviction Prevention and Stability Toolkit on its website, which includes resources for PHAs, landlords and tenants on rent repayment agreements and avoiding eviction-related expenses. 

Additionally, presenters discussed a series of recommendations that PHAs could take avoid evictions at the end of the eviction moratorium. The presenters also used Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority to illustrate some of these best practices. These recommendations include the following: 

  1. enter into repayment agreements with residents, update repayment agreement policies, and encourage Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) landlords to enter into repayment agreements;
  2. revise policies to allow for retroactive interim reexaminations;
  3. review hardship exemption policies and consider setting minimum rent to zero;
  4. communicate with households with unpaid rent; and 
  5. position residents for future stability by maximizing Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) and Jobs Plus benefits with other steps.

Finally, HUD presenters gave an update on the HCV program. The presenters noted that supplemental HAP funding would be provided via a notice to be released in late-July. They also stated that a second round of administrative fees would be disbursed in late-July or August. They noted that the new mobility demonstration would likely be published in the next few weeks and that HUD was going to start allowing PHAs that have Family Unification Programs (FUP) to participate in the Foster Youth the Independence initiative. The next round of FUP funding is anticipated to be announced later this summer. Finally, HUD staff announced the next round of HUD-VASH vouchers and answered some questions. 

Additional COVID-19 resources can be found at www.nahro.org/coronavirus.