President Kicks Off Holiday Weekend With Proposal to Increase HUD Funding

The President’s full FY 2022 budget proposal released May 28, provides additional details to the topline numbers outlined by the Administration in April. Overall, the President proposes to increase HUD funding by 15%, focusing increases core programs, climate change resiliency, disinvested communities, and HUD staff capacity.  

The Administration proposes full funding for Section 8 On-going Administrative Fees, which HUD estimates to be $2.79 billion. In addition to fully funding Admin Fees, the President calls for an additional $490.7 million in Admin Fee for PHAs to use for mobility-related social services. If funded, it would be the first time since FY 2003 the full cost of operating the voucher program has been met. NAHRO commends the Administration for the recognition of the work that PHAs are doing in communities and the resources needed to continue those vital services.

NAHRO is glad to see the Administration’s support for affordable housing and community development reflected in the FY 2022 proposed budget. This 15% increase in HUD funding includes a significant increase for the public housing capital fund to preserve existing affordable housing, $500 million more for the HOME Program, which will build more affordable housing, and an increase in resources to support the Housing Choice Voucher Program. These are all vital steps in helping to house our nation’s families, seniors and children.

NAHRO President Sunny Shaw, in response to the budget proposal
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Work Requirement MTW Cohort Rescinded

On May 21, HUD announced that the Department will rescind the selection notice seeking applications for the Work Requirements Cohort of the MTW Expansion (PIH Notice 2021-02). NAHRO remains supportive of the MTW Expansion and still encourages PHAs interest in the Expansion to apply to other cohorts. HUD notes that PHAs that were interested in applying to the Work Requirement Cohort can apply to either the Landlord Requirements Cohort (PIH Notice 2021-03) and/or future cohorts of the MTW Expansion. The application for the Landlord Incentives Cohort will be extended until at least September 2021.

Sec. Fudge Testifies on Importance of the American Jobs Plan

HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge and Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg testified this morning in a joint hearing on the American Jobs Plan for the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Titled “21st Century Communities: Expanding Opportunity Through Infrastructure Investments,” the joint hearing focused on how housing and transit work together to support communities and jobs, and the importance of housing as infrastructure.

In her testimony, Sec. Fudge focused on the ways that “yesterday’s lack of investment” is driving the affordable housing crisis through lack of supply of housing units and state of disrepair of existing housing units. She emphasized the different ways the American Jobs Plan (AJP) addresses these two issues, which includes $213 million to build 2 million new homes and $40 billion to repair existing public housing infrastructure.

In his testimony, Sec. Buttigieg highlighted how the relationship between housing and transit infrastructure impacts families who must choose between “living impossibly far from work to afford housing,” relying on aging transit systems in need of repair, or “paying more for housing than they can afford in order to have a reasonable commute.”  

Both Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) separately asked about manufactured housing, and the potential for HUD to issue guidance on manufactured housing. Sen. Scott emphasized the importance of manufactured housing in disaster recovery his state, and Sen. Sinema focused on the importance of manufactured housing considering increased construction materials costs. Sec. Fudge said HUD had been preoccupied by COVID, but supports manufactured housing as resilient, energy efficient, and affordable, and should have guidance out by the end of the year.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) asked about the lack of available senior housing, and how that might be a growing problem as the number of aging Americans significantly increases in the next decade. Sec. Fudge responded that many people forget a large percentage of public housing residents are seniors and need to be able to age in place, and that requires investing in Section 202.

Several senators also asked about landlord and community incentives to lease to voucher holders or to build new housing. Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) took the hearing as an opportunity to talk about his new bill with Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE).  Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) asked about how the AJP currently addresses zoning, and how more targeted incentives could motivate local communities to address exclusionary zoning, bans on multifamily construction, and other barriers to more affordable housing.

You can watch the hearing here.

You can find the testimony of the witnesses here.

HUD Posts First FAQ for Emergency Housing Vouchers

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has posted its first frequently asked questions (FAQ) document on Emergency Housing Vouchers. These vouchers–for people at-risk of homelessness, people experiencing homelessness, people fleeing domestic violence, and people experiencing housing instability–were recently allocated to almost 700 PHAs. The Department released guidance discussing how the vouchers will operate. This FAQ answers questions that may not have been answered by the initial operational guidance notice.

Topics in the FAQ include the following:

  • Eligibility;
  • Partnerships and collaboration;
  • Voucher administration;
  • Portability; and
  • Reporting requirements.

The full FAQ may be found here.

Tenant Participation Fund Guidance Released

On May 18, HUD published Notice PIH 2021-16 titled “Guidance on the use of Tenant Participation Funds.” The notice applies to all Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) operating public housing programs. HUD provides tenant participation (TP) funds to PHAs through the Operating Fund Grant specifically for resident participation activities. The activities allow resident councils to create strong partnerships between the duly-elected residents on the council, the PHA, and HUD.

The Notice covers the role of the PHA and the Resident Council as it relates to using and disbursing funds, financial management for TP funds, allowable and unallowable uses for TP funds, and includes a guide for evaluating TP fund expenses.

The Notice can be found here.   

FCC Launches Temporary Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

As of May 12, recipients of Federal Public Housing Assistance and other qualifying households can apply for the temporary Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBBP) to receive a monthly discount on internet access, as well as a one-time discount on equipment. The Federal Communication Program (FCC) program offers $50/month off of broadband service, $75/month off of broadband service on Tribal land, and a one-time discount of $100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop, as long as consumers pay between $10-$50. The program pays internet service providers directly, sending discounted bills to participants.

Recipients of Federal Public Housing Assistance are eligible, as are families with income at or below 135% of federal poverty guidelines. Households also qualify if any member of the household:

  • Qualifies for Lifeline. Recipients of Lifeline qualify automatically, and can receive both benefits simultaneously.
  • Participates in Supplemental Nutrition Insurance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Veterans Pension and Survivor Benefits.
  • Participates in Tribal programs (Tribal Head Start, Tribal TANF, or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations).
  • Receives Free or Reduced-Price Lunch in 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 school year, or received a Pell Grant in the current year.
  • Experienced a substantial loss of income after February 29,2020. Total household income must be no more than $99,000 for single tax filers, and $198,000 for joint tax filers.
  • Already participates in a low-income or COVID-19 program with their internet service provider.

The EBBP limits families to one monthly broadband discount and one device discount per household, defined as people living together who also share money. This is a temporary program, which will end either when funding is exhausted or six months after the Department of Health of Human Services (HHS) announces the end of the COVID-19 emergency.

To apply, see more here.

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HUD, HHS Partner on COVID-19 Vaccine Program

The U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Health and Human Services (HHS) have partnered to create a new program to make COVID-19 vaccines and testing more accessible for HUD-assisted households and people experiencing homelessness. Under the program, funded by the American Rescue Plan, HUD and HHS are directing all community health centers to build on or create new partnerships with HUD participants (including PHAs, Continuums of Care, and homeless providers) to facilitate on-site testing and vaccine clinics at HUD-assisted sites and to create mobile facilities to reach those experiencing unsheltered homelessness. HUD and HHS will support these partnerships by tracking the number of people being vaccinated and the number of vaccine clinics, as well as leveraging a new mapping tool to identify high-need areas for vaccination. Vaccines will come from the Health Center COVID-19 Program, which sends vaccines directly to 800 health centers across the country.

In addition to the vaccine sites themselves, these programs will also help with registering and scheduling testing and vaccine appointments, conduct outreach on vaccine safety and efficacy, and provide transportation to vaccination for those with limited mobility. Beyond COVID-19, the program should also provide information on access for more comprehensive primary health care services for participants. HUD and HHS estimate this will reach approximately 6,000 multifamily housing properties, 6,700 homeless shelters, and 7,500 public housing properties.   

More information can be found here.

Admin Fee Special Fee Applications

HUD’s Financial Management Division sent out an email with reminders for application deadlines for certain administrative fee special fees. Additional explanations of the categories can be found in Notice PIH 2021-10 on the implementation of the Housing Choice Voucher program in 2021. Today is the last day for certain categories!

CategoryDue Date
HUD-VASH Special Fees (HUD-VASH)Friday, May 14, 2021
Family Unification Program Special Fees (FUP)Friday, May 14, 2021
Disaster Related Special FeesFriday, October 29, 2021
Special Fees under The Secretary’s DiscretionFriday, October 29, 2021

Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grants NOFO Released

On May 12, HUD posted the FY 2021 Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grants Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) on HUD is making available up to $5 million for planning grants. Planning grants are two-year grants of up to $450,000 that assist communities with severely distressed public or HUD-assisted housing in developing a neighborhood transformation plan and carrying out early action activities to help successfully implement the plan.

Applications are due to on Tuesday, July 13, 2021.

Vera Creates “Looking Beyond Conviction History” Fact Sheet

The Vera Institute of Justice has created a fact sheet titled “Looking Beyond Conviction History.” The fact sheet was created by Vera collaborating with multiple PHAs across the country. It provides eight recommendations for PHAs that want to rethink their admission policies for people with criminal conviction histories. While the full fact sheet offers additional details and rationales, the recommendations are the following:

  • Shorten the lookback period to three years or less;
  • Screen for a limited number of convictions and not for arrests;
  • Conduct an individualized assessment of applicants’ conviction histories;
  • Discontinue the use of “one-strike” policies and adopt a case-by-case decision-making approach;
  • Allow people on probation or parole to live in public housing;
  • Limit the use of past evictions to determine successful tenancy in public housing;
  • Specify and limit denials connected to illegal drug use; and
  • Include absence as a result of incarceration as a permitted temporary absence and allow people to stay housed while completing diversion or alternative-to-incarceration programs.

The website hosting the fact sheet can be found here.

The full fact sheet can be found here.