Congress Holds Hearings on Homeownership

This article was written by Richa Goel, NAHRO’s Legislative Affairs Intern

With housing prices and rents skyrocketing, homeownership has become out of reach for many Americans, especially low-income and minority populations. On June 28th, the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing analyzing the impact of institutional investors on individual homeownership and rent prices.

Chairman Rep. Al Green (D-TX) opened the hearing by discussing predatory purchasing practices: “Private equity companies have bought up hundreds of thousands of single family homes and placed them on the rental market…these homes tend to be located in communities with significantly more families of color than the national average.

Five expert witnesses testified in front of the subcommittee, including:

  • Jim Baker, Executive Director, Private Equity Shareholder Project
  • Shad Bogany, Agent, Better Homes and Gardens
  • Sofia Lopez, Deputy Campaign Director of Housing, Action Center on Race and the Economy
  • Elora Lee Raymond, Assistant Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Jenny Schuetz, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institute

Baker, Lopez, and Raymond discussed the relationship between institutional investors acquiring single-family homes and increased rents and eviction filings. Bogany spoke about institutional investors targeting minority communities, charging high rent prices, and diminishing minority chances of homeownership. Schuetz highlighted the increasingly tight housing market, asserting that local zoning policies and regulations have hindered home building and driven high housing costs.

Democrats and Republicans disagreed on the causes and remedies for high housing costs. Ranking Member Rep. Tom Emmer and Rep. William Timmons (R-SC) emphasized inflation, accusing Democrats of using institutional investors as a scapegoat for policy and spending mistakes. In contrast, Rep. Nikema Williams (D-GA) and Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver (D-MO) emphasized the impact of institutional investment on minority communities. They advocated for closing the gap between investors and individuals in the homebuying process.

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Upcoming EHV Landlord Engagement Webinar Series

HUD will continue its Emergency Housing Voucher (EHV) Landlord Engagement webinar series beginning Tuesday, June 28. The series is designed to address utilization challenges in competitive rental markets. The Zoom link along with a schedule for the series are listed below:  

Zoom link for each webinar session 

Landlord Financial Incentives  

Tuesday, June 28, at 3 pm EDT 

This webinar will focus on creating financial and other incentives to encourage private market landlords to lease their units to EHV households.  

Marketing, Outreach, and Retention Strategies 

Tuesday, July 12, at 3 pm EDT 

This webinar will focus on landlord engagement and retention strategies and best practices for CoCs, PHAs, and other community partners.  

Landlord Engagement and Unit Identification Webinar Wildcard (Office Hours Session) 

Tuesday, July 26, at 3 pm EDT 

During the webinar series and office hours, participants can let HUD know what they would like to see in the final webinar regarding EHV landlord engagement and unit identification. 

Previously recorded webinars from the EHV Landlord Engagement series can be found here.  

Housing Bills Move Forward in Committee

Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) held a markup for several housing-related bills. The House Financial Services Committee offered amendments to bills that will move forward once approved by a committee vote. Chair Waters opened the markup, saying, “The bills we are marking up today will benefit working families all across this country… by reducing the cost of housing…”

Two bills, the “Housing Temperature Safety Act of 2022” and the “Public and Federally Assisted Housing Fire Safety Act of 2022,” address the issue of fire safety in federal housing. The members who introduced the bills both represent cities where tragic fires occurred earlier this year – Philadelphia and the Bronx in New York City. After hearing comments from the bill sponsors, the committee voted to pass both bills.

The committee considered three other housing bills, including:

  • HR 68, the “Housing Fairness Act of 2021” (Passed 28-24)
  • HR 3111, the “Grandfamily Housing Act of 2021” (Passed 29-24)
  • HR 4495, the “Downpayment Toward Equity Act of 2021” (28-23)

The bills would provide additional funding for fairness in homeownership and housing support for grandparents raising children. Committee members expressed greater disagreement on these bills. Republican members said they would not vote for additional funding until inflation subsides, while Democrat members said the bills address long-standing issues that deserve timely action. The committee voted to pass all three bills along party lines.

In addition to housing, the committee heard bills related to the banking industry and small businesses. The full markup and all bill texts are available on the House Financial Services Committee website.

U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness Releases Guidance on Addressing Encampments

On June 15th, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) released guidance for addressing encampments that can be found here. Unsheltered homelessness and encampments have been considered by USICH to be a crisis in the United States. According to USICH, more individuals that experienced homelessness in 2020 were living on the streets than in shelters for the first time.

The guidance lists seven core principles in addressing encampments, which includes:

  1. Establishing a Cross-Agency, Multi-Sector Response
  2. Engage with Encampment Residents to Develop Solutions
  3. Conduct Comprehensive and Coordinated Outreach
  4. Address Basic Needs and Provide Storage
  5. Ensure Access to Shelter or Housing Options
  6. Develop Pathways to Permanent Housing and Supports
  7. Create a Plan for What Will Happen to Encampment Sites After Closure

This release follows the unanimous vote by USICH to approve the national goal to significantly reduce homelessness. The goal and strategies to achieve it will be published in the newest federal strategic plan to be released later this year.

More information regarding the guidance will be provided in the next edition of the Monitor published on June 30.

HUD Requests Comments on NSPIRE Standards

On June 16, HUD pre-published its Request for Comments: National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate (NSPIRE) and Associated Protocols in the Federal Register. The request for public comment is focused specifically on the inspection standards associated with the new NSPIRE inspection protocol that HUD will begin implementing in April, 2023. NSPIRE aims to create a unified assessment of housing quality through inspections across multiple HUD programs. NSPIRE applies to the Public Housing program, Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) units, Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) units, and Project-Based Voucher (PBV) programs. Certain HUD Community Planning and Development (CPD) programs would also be required to adopt theses new standards. These programs include the HOME Program, Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA), Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) Program, and Continuum of Care (CoC). A full list of the NSPIRE Standards can be found here. Comments are due 45 days after publication in the Federal Register.

NAHRO will provide an in-depth analysis of the NSPIRE Standards soon.

After NAHRO’s Urging, HUD Expands Administrative Fee Eligible Uses

On June 13th, HUD published a notice [Notice PIH 2022-18 (HA)] expanding the eligible uses of the administrative fee for the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program. The notice is titled “Use of Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) and Mainstream Voucher Administrative Fees for Other Expenses to Assist Families and Lease Units.” Earlier this year, NAHRO had written to HUD recommending that it expand the eligible uses of the HCV administrative fee in order to increase voucher utilization. NAHRO wrote that HUD should “[i]mmediately issue guidance in the form of a new PIH notice clarifying that administrative fees may be used for activities and expenses that help a PHA utilize vouchers . . . .” NAHRO is pleased that HUD recognized–after NAHRO’s urging–the importance of allowing administrative fees to be used for these additional purposes, which will have the end effect of helping more families find and lease homes.

The notice clarifies that administrative fees may be used for the following activities:

  • Administrative Activities: These activities include–but are not limited to the following:
    • Front-line, day-to-day operational activities:
      • applicant intake;
      • lease-up activities;
      • income determinations and reexaminations;
      • unit inspections;
      • disbursing HAP to landlords;
      • policy and operational planning and implementation;
      • financial management;
      • HCV record-keeping and reporting;
    • Indirect overhead activities associated with operating the HCV program:
      • PHA management;
      • human resources;
      • legal;
      • finance;
      • accounting and payroll;
      • information technology;
      • procurement;
      • quality control;
      • central office cost center HCV program expenses;
    • Housing search assistance activities;
      • pre-move counseling;
      • helping a family identify and visit potentially available units during their housing search;
      • helping a family find a unit that meets the household’s disability-related needs;
      • providing transportation and directions; and
      • assisting with the completion of rental applications;
    • Post-lease up activities related to search assistance:
      • post-move counseling and landlord/tenant mediation;
    • HCV owner recruitment and outreach activities:
      • costs associated with materials or webpages specifically geared to owners;
      • costs of landlord liaison staff;
      • associated expenses;
  • Other Eligible Activities (PHAs must change their administrative plans to support these activities; Note: some of these activities have certain restrictions, please see Notice PIH 2022-18 (HA) for specifics on use):
    • Expenses for activities designed to help assist HCV families in leasing units:
      • Owner incentive and/or retention payments;
      • security deposit assistance;
      • utility deposit assistance/utility arrears;
      • application fees/non-refundable administrative or processing fees/refundable application deposit assistance/broker fees;
      • holding fees; and
      • renter’s insurance if required by the lease.

Additionally, administrative fee reserves or outside funding sources may also be used for the listed activities. Similarly, mainstream voucher administrative fees may also be used to assist mainstream voucher families to lease units, though mainstream administrative fees may only be used for mainstream vouchers. The notice also notes that for both regular and mainstream HAP funding may not be used to pay for any of these activities. Finally, the notice provides certain information on reporting the new authorized expenses.

The full notice may be found here.

Applications for the Adult and Juvenile Crisis Stabilization and Community Reentry Programs Now Open

The Bureau of Justice Assistance is now accepting applications for funding meant to enhance and or implement services to individuals who were or are involved in the criminal justice system.

There are two deadlines for applications: July 28, 2022 at 8:59 p.m. ET through and August 2, 2022 at 8:59 p.m. ET through JustGrants. The applications are meant to be completed in two steps through both of these websites. Applicants must ensure that their System for Award Management (SAM) registration is current.

Applications are open to state, local, and tribal governments, as well as, nonprofit organizations with or without 501(c)(3) status. The funding would be meant to expand or enhance existing programs that are focused in the following:

  • clinical services
  • reducing recidivism
  • improving reentry
  • providing recovery treatment for those with mental health and or substance use issues
  • other related services to those involved in the criminal justice system

Additional information on eligibility can be found here.

The full notice for applying to this program can be found here.

Operating Fund Shortfall Funding Announced

On July 13, HUD published its notice implementing the Public Housing Operating Fund Shortfall Funding from the FY 2022 Appropriations Act (Notice PIH-2022-17). The FY 2022 Appropriations Act included a provision that provided $25 million for PHAs that experience, or are at risk of, financial shortfalls as determined by HUD. PHAs that are included on the list of eligible PHAs may apply for Shortfall funding by visiting the OpFund Web Portal. PHAs must apply by July 12, 2022. The list of eligible PHAs can be found here.

NAHRO to Host Webinar on HCV Utilization Resources

Join NAHRO–tomorrow, June 9th at 2 pm ET–for this webinar focused on HUD voucher utilization resources. HUD staff have been invited to share some of the resources available to PHAs on HUD’s website to help increase voucher utilization. Learn about the various resources available and how they can be used to help your PHA optimize its voucher utilization strategy!

Registration can be found here.

HUD Hosting Payment Standards Webinar

On June 10, 2022, from 2 pm to 4 pm ET, HUD will host a webinar to aid PHAs in “understanding and using payment standards, exception payment standards, Fair Market Rents (FMRs), and Small Area FMRs (SAFMRs).” In addition to learning what these items are, webinar participants will also learn best practices and tools to use them.

Webinar registration can be found here.

After the webinar has been complete, a recording will be found here.