Summary of CARES Act Waivers Exploratory Meeting

The following is a summary of an exploratory meeting with HUD staff on 5/19/21 on CARES Act statutory waivers, considering the potential advantages and disadvantages of making each waiver permanent. PHAs and industry group members in attendance offered feedback and comments about their experience with the waivers, to give context to the operation of each waiver in practice. NAHRO will continue to be engaged in discussions to ensure efficient and effective HUD affordable housing programs that serve the needs of local communities. Select comments, questions, and concerns from the meeting are included below:

  1. HQS Inspection Requirement: Biennial Inspections
  • Allows for delay in biennial inspections
  • PHAs must require landlord certification there are no life-threatening deficiencies
  • All delayed biennial inspections must resume by 6/30/21 and be completed by 12/31/21

Comments on how to assure units meet HQS standards:

Switch to random inspections

For new units for last 2 years, allow landlord to do self-inspection but tenant has to sign-off on no life-threatening issues, and then every 5th unit look out for 90 days

RVI  was initially not well-received by households or inspectors, but now successful as inspectors became efficient with technology and residents got familiar with the process

2. Public Housing Agency Annual Self-Inspection

  • Waives the requirement that the PHA must inspect each project

Comments:

Goal to ensure compliance without being intrusive

Flexibility of the waiver is good, but residents need a mechanism to complain to the PHA

One solution is to send property staff with LIHTC state inspections, which are unofficial but reduce intrusions and get eyes on the property

3. Homeownership Option: Initial HQS Inspection

  • Waives the requirement to perform an initial HQS inspection to begin making homeownership assistance payments
  • Requires family to obtain independent professional inspection

4. Family Unification Program (FUP): FUP Youth Age Eligibility to Enter HAP Contract

  • Allows PHAs to increase age to 26 for foster youth to initial lease up

Comments:

Multiple comments that expanding age would help program with utilization, and benefit program overall

Youth considered a dependency on parental health insurance until 26 if parents have health insurance, and would help with youth in more expensive cities

Questions about different timelines for youth in FSS for FYI and FUP

5. Community Service and Self-Sufficiency Requirement (CSSR)

  • Temporarily suspends CSSR

Comments:

Has no specific outcome

Administrative argument to made as well that it takes unnecessary time, effort, funding to manage

6. 1-and 2-Year Substantial  Improvement Requirements

  • For PHAs designated as troubled prior to the date of this Notice that have not received a PHAs assessment for the first full fiscal year after the initial notice of the troubled designation.
  • HUD will: (1) evaluate the 1-year substantial improvement benchmark based on the first released score for fiscal years ending on or after June, 30, 2022; and (2) toll the evaluation of the 2-year recovery benchmark to the next sequential fiscal year.

7. Extension of Deadline for Programmatic Obligation and Expenditure of Capital Funds

  • Provides an 18-month extension for obligation and spending of cap funds

Comments:

Construction currently very difficult because of high building costs, can only get materials costs 6 weeks at a time

Hard to make a 5-year plan when we don’t know what the funding will be

Additional waivers and comments:

  • Waiver for publishing openings and closing of wait lists:
    • Feedback: Expensive to publish in print, requests to consider alternative methods of publication

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