Extended Deadline and New Webinar for MTW Landlord Incentives Cohort

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has extended the deadline for the Moving to Work (MTW) Demonstration Expansion under the Landlord Incentives Cohort to October 15, 2021. The department will hold a webinar for PHAs interested in applying on July 20, 2021 at 1:30 EST to learn more about the application process, ask questions, and hear from current MTW PHAs.  

MTW agencies have the ability to waive certain statutory requirements to create more flexible, locally-designed approaches. The Landlord Incentive Cohort (MTW Cohort #4) must use at least two MTW activities designed for their cohort, including flexibility around payment standards and small area fair market rent, vacancy loss and damage claims, inspections, a signing bonus for new landlords, and more.

To attend the webinar:

Step 1:  Dial into the conference. 

  • Dial-in: 888-251-2949 or 215-861-0694 
  • Access Code: 4047630#  

Step 2: Join the conference on your computer.

For technical assistance:

  • Audio Connection: 1-888-796-6118
  • WebEx Connection: 1-888-793-6118

To learn more about the Landlord Incentives MTW cohort, see here. For a complete list of approved cohort activities, see here.

White House Summit on Eviction Prevention Best Practices

At a White House summit on eviction prevention, researchers and experts in the field shared resources and best practices from around the country.

After outlining documented long-term health and economic impacts of evictions, Matthew Desmond, director of the Eviction Lab at Princeton, focused on the problems present in eviction courts. Since so few municipalities guarantee families facing an eviction the right to counsel, many families simply don’t show up because they don’t think they can win. Labeling eviction courts those without “justice or fairness,” Desmond called for advocates to focus three alternate approaches:

  1. Advocacy – including the right to counsel, with either a lawyer or a caseworker
  2. Assistance – wraparound social services
  3. Alternative Processes – eviction diversion  

Desmond urged advocates to focus as much as possible on early stage interventions, because a third of families move between notice and filing, court records can follow families and make it harder to move into a good home, and because families can still end up moving or being harmed by court proceedings without an official eviction. Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta also recommended that state courts consider issuing orders requiring landlords to apply for emergency rental assistance before filing, and alerting litigants about availability of rental assistance.  

To help stand up new eviction diversion programs that include these three pieces, the National Center for State Courts has developed an eviction diversion program that offers models, resources, and technical assistance here. Multiple administration officials repeated in today’s summit that Treasury made it clear that the $350 billion from the American Rescue Plan can be used for court-supported eviction diversion programs.

Best Practices

Experts from the field then shared their knowledge about how to make these programs work in practice. Rasheedah Phillips, Managing Attorney of Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bridget Mary McCormack both recommended that diversion programs need a right to counsel or other tenant representation. Philadelphia passed a right to counsel law in 2019, and uses trained mediators, housing counselors, and legal representation depending on tenant need. However, Michigan has only included a right to counsel in its emergency diversion program for COVID, and it has made a significant difference in both application rates and successful cases. Prior to this program, only 4% of tenants in Detroit had representation in eviction cases.

Philadelphia has also recently passed the Renters Access Act, which prohibits landlords from rejecting potential tenants solely because of evictions or low credit scores, prohibits rejections based on failure to pay rent or utility bills during the pandemic, and requires landlords to inform potential tenants why they were rejected.

From the landlord perspective, Gilbert Winn of WinnCompanies, which houses over 45,000 tenants in more than 15 states, spoke about the program his company launched to prevent evictions, which WinnCompanies believes can serve as a blueprint for other landlords going forward. This included:

  • Long-term, sustainable payment agreements to have backpay addressed
  • Pre-court checklist before any staff can file for eviction
  • Incentives to property staff and property legal counsel to lower eviction filings

With zero evictions in the last 15 months with all 15,000 participating families, the program has been extremely successful, and WinnCompanies intends to use it into the post-pandemic period.

More resources on eviction prevention can be found here.

Senate Hearing on Bipartisan Bills to Increase Access to Housing

On Thursday June 24th, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs held a full committee hearing, “Examining Bipartisan Bills to Increase Access to Housing,” to consider the following legislation:

Witnesses included Lisa Mensah, CEO of the Opportunity Finance Network, and Nan Roman, CEO and President of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, who both testified about the need to rehabilitate existing housing and build more housing in order to address the current crisis in affordable housing and homelessness. American Enterprise Institute witness Howard Husock argued against expanding Housing Choice Vouchers without making sure that emergency rental assistance was being disbursed more efficiently. Mr. Husock also testified in favor of the Moving to Work approach to voucher rental contracts for new tenants that use flat rent for a fixed-period, independent of tenant income, so that tenants can avoid an income cliff and put any additional income into an escrow account.

In his questions, ranking member Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) was very interested in this MTW model and the possibility that the current model might discourage increased work, following up on his opening statement criticizing elevated unemployment benefits. Both Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) asked about bills that would collect more data on different aspects of the housing crisis, and ways that agencies could collaborate on high-needs populations, including work to prevent evictions and services for vouchers to high-opportunity areas. Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) and Sen. Cortez Masto (D-NV) both asked questions in support of the Native American Homeownership Act. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) argued that none of the bills under discussion addressed the current address “the failed state of our housing finance system,” focusing on the lack of diversity and competition in the mortgage market. To make credit more available for mortgages, Sen. Scott argued that the committee also needed to look for serious, bipartisan approaches to comprehensive mortgage finance reform.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) asked about the overall disrepair in the nation’s housing stock, the $70 billion backlog in repairs in public housing, and the estimated 10,000 units of public housing lost per year as a result of these deferred costs. She reiterated her belief that housing is infrastructure, and the importance of making public housing safe for families who are there now. Commenting on the current infrastructure talks, she argued that the current state of housing puts families at risk and that Congress must go further than the President has proposed in order to meet the needs of families.

HUD Briefing Gives New Details on American Jobs Plan

Secretary Fudge and HUD Senior Advisors led a briefing on Monday June 21st to update housing advocates on details of the American Jobs Plan (AJP), and urge continued support across advocacy networks. In the briefing, she called the AJP a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to address decades of disinvestment in moderate and low-income housing, and its $40 billion Capital Fund investment “the biggest down payment we will make,” while simultaneously acknowledging that the $40 billion did not go far enough. The HUD team emphasized the importance of redeveloping and preserving public housing units to the administration’s dual goals of racial equity and reducing the environmental footprint of public housing.

HUD Senior Advisor Peggy Bailey also gave a more detailed breakdown of the proposed $40 billion for the Capital Fund:  

$27 billion: Major Rehabilitation, Modernization, and Redevelopment

  • Leveraging capital through Capital Fund, mixed finance, and RAD
  • Build new units up to Faircloth
  • Includes RAD rent boost ($1 billion),  tenant-protection vouchers ($500 million), expanding the scale of Choice Neighborhoods ($2 billion)

$13 billion: Immediate Health/Safety Needs and Environmental Impact of Public Housing

  • $6 billion to Public Housing Authorities with public housing for immediate needs and renovations – capital grants by formula
  • $7 billion for health, safety, and climate needs – competitive grants
Continue reading

Sec. Fudge Announces New Effort to Address Reentry Housing Needs

Secretary Fudge issued new guidance yesterday clarifying that citizens returning from jail and/or prison and at risk of homelessness are eligible for Emergency Housing Vouchers.

In a letter sent out to PHAs, Continuums of Care, and HUD grantees, Sec. Fudge wrote that “HUD strongly encourages PHAs to work with their Continuum of Care (CoC) partners to ensure that individuals who are at-risk of homelessness after leaving prisons or jails are considered for these vouchers.”

HUD has eliminated permissive prohibitions for drug-related criminal activity for EHVs, since drug addiction can be a root cause of homelessness. Following a Housing First approach, it now recommends considering drug-related prohibitions to be separate from prohibitions on criminal activity against a person. HUD also no longer requires a “one strike” rule for residents for criminal activity, and instead defers to discretion of landlords and PHAs. More detail on criminal records and eligibility for EHVs can be found here.

Beyond EHVs, more guidance on criminal records in accordance with the Fair Housing Act can be found here. PHAs and federally-assisted housing cannot use arrest records as the basis to deny admission, terminate assistance, or evict residents.

HUD plans to issue future guidance and tools for PHAs and private landlords on tenant screening and best practices on reentry housing. Later this month it will also issue guidance on using Community Development Block Grants on community violence intervention (CVI).

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


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


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


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


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

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.

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.

Continue reading

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.