Housing Bills Pass Committee Along Party Lines

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

The House Financial Services Committee held a markup on July 27 and July 28 that included multiple housing-related bills. Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) led the markup, overseeing amendments offered by committee members. Waters began the markup by offering a brief overview of the housing-related legislation:

“This markup includes a slate of bills to strengthen oversight of our country’s affordable housing and give communities the tools they need to address the homelessness crisis”

The “Studying Barriers to Housing Act” and “Housing Inspections Accountability Act of 2022” would increase transparency and oversight of affordable housing. The first bill would instruct the Government Accountability Office to produce a report about the barriers that make it difficult to address homelessness with Housing Choice Vouchers. The second bill would require HUD and the USDA to provide a joint report to Congress about failed inspections in public housing. Rep. John Rose (R-TN) proposed an amendment to require HUD and the EPA to also analyze the prevalence of superfund sites within one mile of public housing. Rose’s amendment did not pass. Both bills passed along party lines.

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Advancing Choice in the Housing Choice Voucher Program 

In May 2022, NYU researchers Ingrid Gould Ellen, Katherine O’Regan, and Katharine WH Harwood published “Advancing Choice in the Housing Choice Voucher Program: Source of Income Protections and Locational Outcomes”. This blog post summarizes the key findings from their paper, which explores how source of income (SOI) laws impact locational outcomes for housing choice voucher (HCV) holders.  

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Senate Holds Hearings on the Housing Crisis

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

Affordable housing is becoming increasingly scarce in the United States. Last week, the Senate held three hearings discussing drivers and solutions to homelessness and the affordable housing crisis. On July 19th, the Housing, Transportation, and Community Development Subcommittee held a hearing addressing homelessness. The Finance Committee held a hearing on July 20th discussing the importance of tax incentives in affordable housing. On July 21st, the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee held a hearing about rising costs in both the homebuying and rental markets.

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House Holds Hearing on the Affordable Housing Crisis

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

Housing is a basic necessity, but many Americans struggle to find affordable housing, both in the rental and homeownership markets. On July 13th, The Ways and Means Committee held a hearing about the affordable housing crisis and its impacts on communities across the country.

Chairman Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) opened the hearing by discussing the impacts of affordable housing shortages on minority and low-income communities:

“The housing affordability crisis has deepened the already wide racial, wealth, and homeownership gaps. Today’s racial disparities in housing and wealth grow out of a long legacy of discrimination and unequal access.”

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HUD Proposes Changes to FMR Calculation Methodology

Earlier today, HUD published in the Federal Register proposed changes to the methodology for calculating fair market rents (FMRs). The notice is titled “Proposed Changes to the Methodology Used for Calculating Fair Market Rents.” Fair market rents are used to determine payment standards for the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program and also impact certain other federal programs.

Currently, HUD calculates FMRs through a seven-step process. First, HUD establishes a two-bedroom base rent from American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year data. HUD then updates this base rent with a “recent mover adjustment factor” based on one-year ACS data. This adjusted data is then inflated by a “gross rent adjustment factor” and then trended forward through the use of a “trend factor.” HUD then adjusts the rents for other unit sizes by applying “bedroom ratios” calculated from the relationships between different size units in the five-year ACS data. There is also a regulatory limit to how much HUD will allow an FMR to decline from one year to the next (i.e., an FMR cannot fall below this percentage “floor” in the span of one year). Finally, HUD also calculates minimum FMRs for each state based on the median FMR for non-metropolitan portions of each state.

The Department is proposing certain changes to the calculation of FMRs—primarily the use of private sector data in two steps during the calculation process in certain instances. First, due to the pandemic, there is a lack of ACS 1-year data. To correct for this, there is a special tabulation of the five-year ACS data for 2020 of rents paid by people who moved in 2020 or 2019. This special tabulation will be updated by private data sources in certain situations where the data sources are accurate and there are three private data sources. HUD would like to estimate the “recent mover adjustment factor” from these sources. When one-year ACS data becomes available again, HUD would like to use it again, while still considering augmenting it with private sector data. Second, HUD would like to use private data sources along with its standard Consumer Price Index (CPI) data in calculating the average gross rent inflation factor in certain instances. These changes would impact the calculation of Small Area FMRs also.

The Department is seeking comment on the appropriateness of using these private sector data sources. Additionally, HUD is seeking comment on whether HUD should continue to use these private rent data sources for FMR calculation after fiscal year 2023.

Comments are due Aug. 12, 2022.

The full Federal Register notice can be found here.

NOFO Deadline for ROSS Program is Fastly Approaching While FSS NOFO is Set to Be Announced

The deadline for the Resident Opportunity and Self-Sufficiency – Service Coordinator (ROSS-SC) Program Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) is approaching as applications are set to close by July 18, 2022. The grant program will provide funds to hire a Service Coordinator with the goal of assisting residents of Public and Indian Housing through economic improvements and housing self-sufficiency. Funding flexibility will also be given for grantees to provide direct services to ROSS participants. Approximately 125 awards are set to be granted with available funds totaling to $35 million.

In addition, the Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) Program announced on July 12, 2022 that their NOFO is set to be released this summer. Potential applicants should make sure their SAM.gov registration and Unique Entity ID (UEI) is up to date in preparation for the upcoming grant application. Guidance on how to ensure up to date information for your future grants can be found here.

More information regarding the ROSS FY2022 NOFO will be found in our next addition of The Monitor.

HUD Announces Public Housing Capital Fund Guidebook Webinars

Trainings begin on July 11th

HUD’s Office of Capital Improvements will provide six webinars on the Public Housing Capital Fund requirements. These trainings will each cover different important program elements and provide an update of recent changes to the program. Though the trainings will provide background on the Capital Fund program, participants who are unfamiliar with it should view short background “vignettes” prior to attending the trainings, available here. Participants must register in advance to attend the trainings and the separate question-and-answer session for participants that will follow each.

The link to register for the July 11th training is available here. The webpage with information and registration for the remaining five trainings is available here.

Advancing Equity through the American Rescue Plan

In May, the White House released a report titled Advancing Equity through the American Rescue Plan (ARP). The report explores 32 different ARP programs– each with a roadmap on how to improve their policy design and better serve historically marginalized communities. This blog post summarizes the sections of the report on the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program, the Emergency Housing Voucher (EHV) program, and the Homeowner Assistance Fund.  

Emergency Rental Assistance Program 

The ERA program provides $46.5 billion in federal funds to state, local, Tribal governments, and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to support low-income households impacted by the economic consequences of the pandemic. The program also provides housing stability services, including access to legal counsel for eviction prevention. 

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