HUD to Extend Mobility Demonstration Application Deadline to Feb. 1, 2021

Tomorrow, HUD will publish in the Federal Register a notice titled “Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers: Implementation of the Housing Choice Voucher Mobility Demonstration, Extension of Application Due Date.” The mobility demonstration will allow selected PHAs to offer mobility-related services to enable families with children to live in areas of opportunity. The deadline has been extended to February 1, 2021.

A pre-publication copy of the extension notice can be found here.

New HUD Guidance on Remote Hearings and Remote Briefings

The Department has published a notice titled “Guidance for PHAs on the Allowability of Remote Hearings and Remote Briefings” (PIH 2020-32). The notice provides additional guidance for conducting remote hearings (e.g., informal hearings for denial of admission, informal settlement of a grievance, etc.) and remote briefings (e.g., oral briefings for new Housing Choice Voucher [HCV] applicants, project-based voucher applicants, and tenant-protection voucher families). The notice outlines requirements for the technology platform used to conduct these activities remotely, discusses how to identify and resolve technology barriers prior to conducting remote hearings or briefings, discusses presenting documents prior to remote hearings and remote briefings, discusses specific public housing requirements, and specific HCV requirements.

Members of NAHRO will receive additional information on this notice.

The full notice can be found here.

New Guidance for Conducting Remote Video Inspections

On November 12, 2020, HUD published a notice titled “Remote Video Inspections for Housing Choice Voucher Program” (PIH Notice 2020-31). The notice gives PHAs guidance for doing Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspections using Remote Video Inspections (RVIs), i.e., the process by which an inspector performs a HQS inspection at a remote site using a proxy (who follows the inspector’s instructions) and streaming technology.

Four Phases of an RVI

The guidance divides RVIs into four phases: administrative preparation; pre-inspection planning; performance of the inspection; and post inspection. In the administrative preparation phase, PHAs should check whether they need to update their administrative plan before incorporating new technology into their HQS inspections. The Department recommends describing who can participate in an RVI and the back-up process, if an RVI is unable to be completed. Additionally, PHAs should determine if the use of technology as part of the inspection process constitutes a significant amendment to the Annual Plan.

There are certain things PHA should do in the pre-inspection planning phase. First, the PHA should consider whether the proxy performing the RVI has the necessary equipment. If she does not, the PHA should consider how it will be provided. The Department recommends having the following items: a tape measure; a flashlight; a circuit analyzer, a way to test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors; a thermometer; and a smart phone or a tablet that meets certain streaming requirements. The RVIs should be scheduled like any other HQS inspection, but the PHA should also explain what RVIs are, why they’re being implemented, and provide a contact number and email address for tenants to raise questions or concerns. Finally, the inspector and the designated proxy should complete the free online course titled “Lead based Paint Visual Assessment Training Course” for properties built before 1978 where a child under six resides or will reside.

Certain steps should be taken, while performing the inspection. First, there should be adequate safeguards for the protection of personally identifiable information. The inspector may want to be in a PHA office or other remote location, while also using equipment that protects other private information. A proxy should be chosen for the inspection. The proxy may be the landlord, property representative, tenant, or any adult associated with the tenancy. Finally, once using a streaming platform to contact the proxy, the inspector should use the same inspection form the PHA currently uses to record deficiencies or if using a handheld device, use a consistent conversion process.

In the post-inspection time period, whether a unit passes or fails, the PHA should follow its administrative plan and procedures for that outcome.

Best Practices

The notice provides several best practices. First, the inspector should verify on the screen that the unit scheduled is being inspected by confirming the address and street name outside the unit. Second, the inspector should inspect the exterior of the unit and adjoining properties. Third, the inspector should inspect all interior spaces. Fourth, for a pre-1978 property, the inspector should follow all the national and state lead-based paint requirements. Fifth, the inspector should complete the process of generating a notification letter to the landlord or tenant to report inspection results. Finally, the appropriate individual should schedule a re-inspection or clearance test, if needed.

Proxy Certification

Prior to the RVI, the PHA and “impacted party with legal possession of the unit” (i.e., the tenant or the landlord) should agree to the use of the RVI. The PHA should notify the proxy in advance that the RVI will involve: determining no smell of natural gas, methane, or other noxious gas; completion of the “Lead based Paint Visual Assessment Training Course”; streaming the RVI without recording it; following the directions of the instructor; and other things deemed necessary by the PHA.

Finally, PHAs are encouraged to perform additional quality control inspections under the RVI process.

The full notice can be read here.

HUD Extends Deadline to Apply for CARES Act HAP Funding

In an email sent earlier today, HUD extended the deadline to apply for receiving CARES Act HAP Funding for the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program for significant increases in per unit cost (PUC) due to extraordinary circumstances. The deadline has been extended to March 31, 2021 or until all funds have been depleted (currently, $50 million remain).

Instructions on how to apply for this funding can be found in PIH 2020-17 (amended to include the new deadline) or NAHRO’s previous blog post.

HUD Creates New Energy Savings Program for Small, Rural PHAs

On October 23, HUD published a notice titled “Implementation of Section 209(b) of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (Economic Growth Act)” (PIH 2020-30). This notice implements an energy savings program for small, rural PHAs that was created by the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (Economic Growth Act). The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials submitted comments on implementing section 209(b). Our comments stated that this program should be distinct from Energy Performance Contracting, that the program should be easy to apply to and to administer, and that PHAs should have flexibility in how they use the savings. We are pleased that HUD closely followed many of NAHRO’s suggestions. The program—called the Small Rural Frozen Rolling Base (SR-FRB)–would allow eligible PHAs to freeze the cost of their energy consumption levels, improve their energy efficiency, and use any cost savings for any eligible public housing purpose at the PHA’s discretion. This program differs from Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) in that it is much easier to apply to and administer.

Continue reading

HCV Optimization Notice Published

On October 16, HUD published a notice titled “Guidance for Running an Optimized Housing Choice Voucher Program” (PIH 2020-29). The notice warns of increasing reserves nationally and notes that an optimized Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program maximizes the number of families served, while minimizing rent burden. The notice discusses several program tools such as the Two-Year Forecasting Tool, the Payment Standard Tool, the HCV Analysis Tool and PIC Drill-Down, and the HCV Guidebook. The notice also discusses the voucher program planning timeline and best practices to increase success rates.

The full notice can be found here.

HUD Publishes HOTMA PBV Rule

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published a rule titled “Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016—Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) and Project-Based Voucher Implementation; Additional Streamlining Changes.” This rule does four things. First, it changes regulatory code to implement Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016 (HOTMA) provisions that were previously implemented via notice. Second, it proposes to implement additional provisions of HOTMA that have not yet been implemented. Third, it proposes several regulatory changes unrelated to HOTMA. Fourth, the rule proposes removing “obsolete regulatory provisions.” Comments for these proposed changes are due December 7, 2020.

There are several new HOTMA-related topics and non-HOTMA-related topics that this proposed rule is seeking to implement. Among the new HOTMA-related topics that this rule will implement include enforcement of housing quality standards, manufactured home space rental, entering into a project-based voucher (PBV) housing assistance payment (HAP) contract without an agreement to enter a HAP (AHAP) contract, providing rent adjustments using an operating cost adjustment fact (OCAF), owner-maintained site-based waiting lists, and environmental requirements for existing housing. Among the non-HOTMA-related topics touched by this rule are changes that HUD characterizes as clarifying and simplifying the program rules.

Staff at NAHRO are still in the process of reading through the proposed rule. Additional information will be forthcoming.

The rule can be found here.

New Foster Youth to Independence Initiative Notice

Earlier today, HUD published a notice titled “Foster Youth to Independence Initiative” (PIH 2020-28). This notice discusses how any PHA which meets certain eligibility requirements (including those agencies that already have a Family Unification Program) may apply for additional Family Unification Program vouchers for youth aging out of foster care. This supply of vouchers is funded through a $10 million set-aside in the 2020 appropriations act.

NAHRO members will receive additional information on this notice.

The full notice may be found here.

HUD Publishes New Chapter for HCV Landlord Strategy Guide

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has published a new chapter–titled “Technology“–as a part of its Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Landlord Strategy Guidebook for PHAs. The goal of the guidebook is to “share strategies that public housing agencies (PHAs) can implement to improve landlord participation in the HCV program.” This chapter is divided into four sections. The first three sections discuss creating a HCV landlord webpage, creating a HCV landlord portal, and inspections technology. The fourth section is an appendix with information and sample content.

NAHRO members will receive additional information on this newly published chapter.

Voucher Programs with Higher Per Unit Costs (PUC) Can Apply for Additional HAP

Earlier this summer, HUD published a notice titled “CARES Act – Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) Supplemental Funding” (PIH Notice 2020-17). This notice allows for PHAs to apply for additional CARES Act funding for significant increases in per unit cost (PUC) due to extraordinary circumstances. Applications for this funding must be submitted by October 31, 2020.

If a PHA has previously submitted applications for calendar year (CY) 2020 HAP renewal set-aside funding under the “Unforeseen Circumstances” category due to PUC increases caused by COVID-19, the PHA must resubmit according to instructions in this new notice. For those who submitted under the “Unforeseen Circumstances” category for other reasons, they are not required to resubmit, but may do so if their PUC has further increased because of COVID-19.

Public Housing Agencies must meet certain requirements to access this funding. First, applications must be submitted by Oct. 31, 2020. Applications will be reviewed by HUD on a rolling basis. Second, to be eligible, a PHA must have a PUC that is 102 percent or greater than the PUC HUD used to determine the PHA’s CY 2020 renewal funding. The PHA must also meet the submission requirements detailed in the notice.

The PHA will also receive a priority status. If the PHA’s HAP reserves contain an amount that is less than the amount needed to cover 3 months of HAP expenses, the PHA will qualify for priority status. Public housing agencies qualifying for priority status will receive funding shortly after their application is processed, subject to funding availability. Those agencies that receive regular priority will receive notification that their application has been approved, but funding will not be made until November.

Group Complete ApplicationPUC > than 102%HAP Reserve < 3 months
PriorityEligible for Immediate fundingYesYesYes
RegularTo be funded in Nov. 2020YesYesNo
IneligibleIneligible for FundingNoNoN/A

To be eligible for funding, a PHA must submit a completed Appendix B in the notice to 2020COVIDHCV@hud.gov.

These funds may not be rolled into restricted net position (RNP) and must be tracked and accounted for separately through the period of availability.