HUD Releases Updated Guidance on Flat Rents

On November 15, HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) released Notice PIH-2017-23 (HA), entitled “Updates to Flat Rent Requirements.” This Notice supersedes and replaces the guidance provided in Notice PIH 2015-13 and clarifies HUD’s interpretation of the statutory amendment related to flat rents.This notice also serves as supplemental guidance to the interim rule published on September 8, 2015 with an effective date of October 8, 2015.

The FY 2014 Appropriations Act requires PHAs to establish flat rents at no less than 80 percent of the applicable Fair Market Rent (FMR). However, if a new flat rent amount for a unit increased a family’s existing rental payment by more than 35 percent, then the new flat rent amount was required to be phased in as necessary to ensure that the family’s existing rental payment did not increase by more than 35 percent annually.

The FY 2015 Appropriations Act further amended the public housing rent requirements for flat rents. Specifically, the statute was amended to require that flat rents must be set at no less than the lower of 80 percent of the fair market rent or at the discretion of the Secretary if the Secretary determines a different amount more accurately reflects local market conditions. This can be done by a PHA applying for an exception waiver.  

Notice PIH-2017-23 provides guidance and clarification on using smaller geographic area FMRs to determine flat rents, applying for exception flat rents, incorporating utility expenses into flat rents, complying with flat rent policies on an annual basis, and conducting annual rent options.

HUD Releases Guidance on Demo/Dispo Asset-Repositioning Fee (ARF)

On November 8, HUD released Notice PIH-2017-22 titled “Guidance on Eligibility for Asset-Repositioning Fee (ARF) when Public Housing Units Are Approved for Demolition, Disposition, or Transitioned to Homeownership.” The Notice applies to all PHAs administering Public Housing, including MTW PHAs.

PHAs that transition projects or entire buildings within a project out of the public inventory may be eligible for ARF, which is an add-on to Operating Subsidy eligibility. ARF supplements costs associated with administration of demolition and disposition, tenant relocation, and minimum protection and services associated with such efforts. It is not intended for individual units within a multi-unit building.

The guidance discusses which units would be considered eligible for ARF, the timeline for homeownership and non-homeownership ARF, how to identify unit months for units eligible to receive ARF, how to calculate ARF amounts, how to determine the ARF funding period versus the Operating Subsidy funding year, how to use ARF when a PHA demolishes and/or disposes of different buildings in one project in multiple phases, and how to adjust the rolling base if some units in a project are ARF eligible and others are not.

HUD Posts 2018 Public Housing Operating Fund Schedule

HUD has posted a preliminary schedule to submit the 2018 Public Housing Operating Subsidy. HUD 52723 and HUD 52722 Forms will be made available to PHAs on November, 27. PHAs are required to provide these forms to their Field Offices by December 18, 2017. The publication of preliminary eligibility based upon HUD-52723 Operating Subsidy Submissions will be on January 29, 2018. PHAs should contact their Field Office by February 5, 2018 with any issues regarding preliminary eligibility for all projects.

HUD Releases Operating Fund Reserves to PHAs

On September 28, HUD’s Operating Fund provided PHA projects a set of obligations for a small amount of funds. The funds include the 2016 holdback reserve – $5,000,000 that was set aside to address HUD corrections – and 2016 deobligations (recaptured funds) that are also available for distribution. PHAs should draw down the funds immediately, and the funds may be used for for 2016/2017 needs and/or reserves. The funds are currently available in eLOCCS.

 

HUD Announces Funding Awards

Today, HUD posted an announcement of funding awards in the Public Inspection of the Federal Register. The announcement notifies the public of funding decisions made by HUD for competitions under NOFAs for the following programs: FY 2016 Resident Opportunity and Self-Sufficiency Program (ROSS); FY 2016 Family Self-Sufficiency Program (FSS); FY 2016 Jobs Plus Initiative; FY 2016 Research and Evaluation, Demonstration, and Data Analysis and Utilization; FY 2017 Comprehensive Housing Counseling Grant Program; FY 2017 Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control Grant Program; and FY 2017 Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration Grant Program. The announcement contains appendices that list the awardees and the amounts of each award.

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HUD Issues Letter Regarding Cat Declawing

On September 29, HUD’s Office of Public Housing sent a letter to Executive Directors of PHAs informing them that PHAs are not required to have public housing tenants declaw their cats as a condition of pet ownership. The letter notes that as a matter of public policy, cat declawing is “considered inhumane and no longer recommended by veterinarians.”

HUD Releases 2018 Operating Subsidy Inventory

On September 27, HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) released the Calendar Year 2018 Operating Subsidy Inventory. PHAs should download the MS Excel file containing all projects and review their inventory, which can be found under the “CY18 Project Inventory” tab on the downloaded Excel spreadsheet. HUD will deploy electronic HUD forms 52723 and 52722 for the 2018 Operating Subsidy for these projects listed. Projects removed from the 2018 inventory can be found under the “CY18 Non-Funded Project” tab.

PHAs should review their inventory listed and provide any updates to the local field office by October 5, 2017.

The MS Excel file containing all projects can be found on HUD’s Calendar Year 2018 Subsidy Processing website.

HUD Extends FSS NOFA Application Deadline for PHAs Affected by Harvey and Irma

On September 14, HUD announced it will extend the FY 2017 Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) NOFA application deadline for PHAs located in Presidentially-Declared Disaster areas impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. This includes 39 counties in the state of Texas, St. John and St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Municipios of Canovanas, Cuelbra, Loiza, and Vieques in Puerto Rico, and 37 counties in the state of Florida. The deadline for these locations is now September 29, 2017.

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Abt Releases New Study on FSS Program Results

Abt Associates recently released a report that evaluated Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) programs operated by the Lynn Housing Authority and the Cambridge Housing Authority in partnership with Compass Working Capital in Massachusetts. The report, funded by the Oak Foundation and HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R), compared the change over time in earnings and welfare and Social Security Income for FSS participants to those in a matched comparison group. The study occurred between October 2010 and March 2015.

The study found that FSS participants performed better than the comparison groups in terms of earning, credit, and debt. This included FSS participants having higher earning growth, reductions in welfare, growth in credit scores, and reductions in credit cards and derogatory debt than the comparison group.

FSS provides a critical source of funding for PHAs to help their residents increase self-sufficiency. Although the FSS program was established by Congress 27 years ago, the Abt study is only the third to compare earnings outcomes of FSS participants to a comparison group and the first to study credit and debt outcomes.