HUD Sends Public Housing Repositioning Letter to EDs

On November 13, HUD sent a letter to Executive Directors of Public Housing Agencies notifying them of their options related to the repositioning of their public housing properties. In the letter, HUD discusses the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) Program, new flexibilities for Section 18 demo/dispo, and forthcoming guidance on voluntary conversion and the retention of assets after a Declaration of Trust (DoT) release. HUD notes that the Department is currently encouraging agencies to reposition their public housing properties to help address the significant public housing capital backlog. HUD is not requiring agencies to reposition their public housing properties at this time.

HUD notes that Field Offices plan to reach out to PHAs in the coming months to help agencies “explore repositioning possibilities in [PHA] inventories.” HUD states its goal in contacting agencies is to help ensure PHAs understand their options. HUD plans to make all repositioning resources available on the PIH One-Stop Tool for PHAs (POST).

HUD’s letter can be found here.

HUD Releases Two PIH Notices

Recently, HUD released two new PIH Notices. The first is titled “Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016 (HOTMA) – Implementation of Minimum Heating Standards in Public Housing Properties” and the second is titled “Partnering with Utility Companies on Energy Performance Contracts.

The first notice provides implementation guidance related to the minimum heating requirements within public housing dwelling units as required by Section 111 of the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016 (HOTMA). For a PHA where state or local minimum heating standards do not exist, the PHA shall use the following minimum heating requirements for public housing dwelling units in order to comply with Section 111 of HOTMA:

  • Minimum Temperature:
    • If PHA-controlled, the minimum temperature in each unit must be at least 68
      degrees Fahrenheit.
    • If tenant-controlled, then the heating equipment must have the capability of
      heating to at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Minimum Temperature Capability:
    • PHAs are allowed flexibility in maintenance of the indoor temperature when
      the outdoor temperature approaches the design day temperature.2 At no point
      should indoor temperatures in occupied space drop below 55 degrees
      Fahrenheit. This flexibility applies when at least one of the below criteria are
      met:

      • The outside temperature reaches or drops below the design day
        temperature, or
      • The outside temperature is within five degrees Fahrenheit of the design
        day temperature for more than two continuous days.
  • Measurement:
    • Temperature measurements must be taken three feet above the floor and two
      feet from an exterior wall in a habitable room.

The second notice, “Partnering with Utility Companies on Energy Performance Contracts,” provides supplemental guidance for Notice PIH 2011-36 and any update which concerns implementing Energy Performance Contracts (EPCs) at PHAs. The notice also introduces a new initiative called the EPC Utility Partnership Program (UPP). The purpose of EPC-UPP is to encourage more PHAs, especially small- and medium-sized PHAs to consider the “potential benefits of implementing an EPC in partnership with utility companies.” This Notice also includes a new simplified approval and verification process for low-risk EPC projects.

Marijuana Use in Public Housing and the Housing Choice Voucher Program

On November 6, voters in Michigan legalized the use of recreational marijuana and voters in Utah and Missouri legalized the use of medical marijuana. Although these states, among numerous others, have voted to legalize the use of marijuana to some degree, the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) continues to list marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug that is banned at the federal level. This means that the federal government considers marijuana a “substance with a very high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use in the United States.”

Currently, HUD has not released any guidance specifically related to the use of recreational marijuana in public housing or Section 8 properties. That said, the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act (QHWRA) of 1998 requires PHAs to prohibit admission to the Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher programs based on the illegal use of federally controlled substances. This includes both the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana. QHWRA also requires PHAs to have established occupancy standards and lease provisions that allow the PHA to terminate assistance if a resident is using a controlled substance as defined by the CSA.

A HUD memo from 2011 notes that although new admissions of medical marijuana users are prohibited into the Public Housing and Section 8 program, PHAs have the “discretion to determine, on a case-by-case basis, the appropriateness of program termination of existing residents for the use of medical marijuana.”

Furthermore, although the Instituting Smoke-Free Public Housing Final Rule makes no mention of marijuana (it only refers to lit tobacco products), the rule does give PHAs the flexibility to prohibit other lit products in their smoke-free policies. As such, PHAs could include marijuana in their smoke-free policies if they choose, in order to provide additional clarity to residents.

Although there is still no specific HUD guidance relating to the use of legal recreational marijuana at the state level, marijuana is still considered an illegal substance at the federal level. PHAs should continue following their established occupancy standards and lease provisions as written until additional HUD guidance is released.

HUD Releases MTW Expansion Operations Notice

On Friday, October 5th, HUD will release the Operations Notice for the Expansion of the Moving to Work (MTW) Demonstration program. The notice establishes the requirements for the implementation and continued operations of the MTW demonstration program pursuant to the 2016 MTW Expansion Statute. Comments are due 45 days from publication of the Operations Notice in the Federal Register.

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HUD Announces Disaster Recovery Waivers

HUD has released a notice in the Federal Register announcing an expedited review process for relief from HUD regulatory and/or administrative requirements for PHAs that are located in counties that have received Presidentially-declared Major Distaster Declarations (MDD). PHAs located in areas that received MDDs in CY 2018 may request waivers of HUD requirements and receive expedited review of such requests.

The Notice includes descriptions of the flexibilities that are currently available to MDD PHAs under statutes and/or regulation, certain HUD requirements that, if waived, may facilitate an MDD PHA’s ability to participate in relief and recovery efforts, and environmental review waivers.

NAHRO is keeping our members and all individuals impacted by Hurricane Florence in our thoughts, and are wishing for a safe and rapid recovery. To everyone impacted by the hurricane, please stay safe!

HUD to Release Two Public Housing Notices of Proposed Information Collection

HUD will release two new Notices of Proposed Information Collection in the Federal Register tomorrow. The first notice is a 60-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection titled Public Housing Reform Act: Changes to the Admission and Occupancy Requirements. The second is a 30-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection titled Assessment of Additional Resource Needs for Smoke-Free Policy. HUD posted a 60-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection regarding an assessment of its smoke-free policy in January, 2018. NAHRO’s comments can be found here (members only).

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HUD Announces MTW Research Advisory Meeting in October

HUD has announced it will be hosting a public meeting of the Moving to Work Research Advisory Committee on October 10 from 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm Eastern Time. The Committee meeting will be held via conference call and is open to the public and accessible to individuals with disabilities.

The meeting will discuss the third cohort of the Moving to Work (MTW) expansion, which focuses on work requirements for public housing and Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) residents. HUD is looking for feedback from the advisory committee on research design, random assignments, and specific policies.

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HUD Releases Notice on Executive Compensation for 2017

HUD recently issued Notice PIH-2018-13 providing additional information on calendar year (CY) 2017 executive compensation reporting. The Notice specifically instructs PHAs on how to use the HUD-52725 Form that reports executive compensation for CY 2017. The requirements apply to all PHAs that administer a public housing or Section 8 program, including PHAs that have  converted their entire public housing portfolio through RAD that still receive funding sourced from Section 8 or 9 of the US Housing Act of 1937.
The FY 2017 Consolidated Appropriations Act included language (members only) prohibiting PHAs from using any Tenant-Based Voucher, Operating Fund, or Capital Fund dollars to pay any amount of salary above the base rate of pay for level IV of the Executive Schedule, or $161,900 for FY 2017. This restriction included salary as well as bonuses or other incentive pay. This provision affirmed a policy that has been in place since the FY 2015 Consolidated Appropriations Act.

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HUD Announces Choice Neighborhood Planning Grant Awards

On September 5, HUD announced that it is awarding $4.8 million in Choice Neighborhood Planning Grants to six communities. The grants, funded through HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods program, will help local leaders craft comprehensive, homegrown plans to revitalize and transform neighborhoods.

Choice Neighborhoods is focused on three core goals: replacing distressed public and assisted housing, improving the outcomes of people living in assisted housing, and creating the conditions necessary for public and private reinvestment in distressed neighborhoods.

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HUD Announces Lead-Based Paint Capital Fund Program Awards

On September 5, HUD announced that it is awarding $18 million to 20 public housing agencies through their Lead-Based Paint Capital Fund Program. The funds are used to ensure public housing developments that were tested and abated over twenty years ago remain lead-free. In FY 2017, Congress appropriated $25 million to be available for competitive grants to PHAs to evaluate and reduce lead-based paint hazards in public housing. According to HUD, “[w]hile lead-based paint was banned for residential use in 1978, many older homes may still contain hazards that require proper cleanup.” Grants are available for risk assessments, abatement, and interim controls as defined in Section 1004 of the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992. These grants are subject to normal PHA regulations.

A list of PHAs receiving awards can be found in HUD’s press release.