HUD Publishes Preliminary Guidance on Porting from Non-Operational PHAs

Earlier this month, HUD sent an email detailing procedures to be followed when a Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program participant wanted to port (move) from a jurisdiction covered by a non-operational PHA. As of October 6, 2017, all PHAs in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are considered to be non-operational. A complete list can be found on HUD’s website.

HUD has established a portability procedure for PHAs that are contacted by families in Major Disaster Declaration areas (following Hurricanes Irma and Maria), who wish to exercise their option to port their voucher, but whose initial PHAs are non-operational and unable to complete their portability responsibilities. HUD stresses that “communication disruptions” or “portability billing concerns” should not interfere with helping displaced families in major disaster declaration areas. HUD will ensure that “legitimate portability moves” are paid for.

Click below for more details.

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New Smoke-free Webinar on Oct. 18, 2017 at 2 pm ET

A new Smoke-free rule webinar titled “New Opportunities: Smokefree Multi-Unit Housing and Tobacco Cessation Policy” will take place on Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at 2 pm ET. It is jointly hosted by the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and the American Lung Association. The webinar will explore “the intersection of smoke-free multi-unit housing  and tobacco cessation policies.” The presentation will discuss the smoke-free rule and the importance of a smoke-free development from a public health perspective. It will also discuss connecting residents to appropriate treatments and provide resources and tools to improve tobacco cessation benefits.

Speakers include the following:

  • Ernest Hawk, M.D., MPH – Vice President and Division Head for Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center;
  • Harold Wimmer – National President and CEO, American Lung Association;
  • Saqi Maleque Cho DrPH, MSPH – Manager of Policy, Research, and Health Promotion, National Center for Health in Public Housing; and
  • Simon McNabb – Senior Policy Advisor, Office on Smoking and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Registration for this webinar can be found here.

HUD Publishes Expedited Waiver Process Notice for PHAs affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria

[10/6/17 Edit – the notice has been published in the Federal Register and can be found here.]

Earlier today, HUD made available a pre-publication copy of a notice titled “Relief from HUD Requirements Available to PHAs to Assist with Recovery and Relief Efforts on Behalf of Families Affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and Future Natural Disasters where Major Disaster Declarations might be Issued in 2017.” The notice establishes an expedited process for a review of waiver requests for those PHAs that are in Major Disaster Declaration areas (MDD PHAs). PHAs in future Major Disaster Declaration areas in 2017 may also use the flexibilities granted in the notice. The notice becomes applicable tomorrow (October 6, 2017) with its publication in the Federal Register.

To begin the expedited waiver process, PHAs must complete the checklist (listed as Attachment A to the notice) and must include a good-cause justification stating why the waiver is needed for the PHA’s relief and recovery efforts. A MDD PHA may also request a waiver that is not listed and still receive expedited review of the request if the MDD PHA documents that the waiver is needed for relief and recovery purposes.

To apply for these waivers through the expedited waiver process, do the following:

  1. Download the checklist;
  2. Complete the section titled “Information about Requesting Agency” (make sure an MDD PHA official signs it);
  3. Complete the checklists and provide any needed documentation;
  4. Write an email to PIH_Disaster_Relief@hud.gov and your Field Office Public Housing Director with the subject line “Hurricane Harvey/Irma Disaster Relief”;
  5. Attach the completed checklist to the email; and
  6. Send the email.

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

A brief description of the available flexibilities can be found be clicking below.

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HUD Sends Letter to PHAs in Declared Disaster Counties on Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria

On Tuesday, September 26, HUD sent an email to PHA Executive Directors in Declared Disaster Counties. The email provides information that may be useful for PHAs in those areas.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance Program – PHAs in declared disaster areas may be eligible to apply for Stafford Act Section 403 and Section 406 funds through FEMA’s Public Assistance Programs program. The Public Assistance grant program covers emergency work (covered by Section 403; e.g., debris removal, demolition of unsafe structures; or boarding of windows) and permanent work (Section 406), unless Congress appropriates funds to HUD for these purposes. Additional information on this FEMA program can be found here.

FEMA and HUD Data Sharing – Starting the week of September 18, HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) began sending reports to PHAs about program participants who have registered for FEMA assistance. HUD anticipates continuing to send these reports on a weekly basis or as new information is available. Please use discretion handling the workbooks and data.

Fraud – If PHAs have concerns about fraud, the email lists methods to contact the federal government.

FEMA’s Fraud Hotline – (866) 720-5721 and

HUD OIG’s Fraud page – (800) 347-3753.

Expedited Waiver Process – As mentioned in NAHRO’s previous blog post, HUD is in the process of creating a expedited waiver process for those PHAs in disaster areas. The process will be articulated in an upcoming Federal Register notice. This notice will be modeled on previous expedited waiver process notices.

Additional information on the Hurricanes and HUD’s response can be found at the following links:

HUD Updates Industry Groups on Hurricane Assistance

Earlier today, NAHRO, along with industry groups PHADA and CLPHA, joined HUD on a conference call to discuss updates on the HUD’s Hurricane Assistance for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. HUD noted that Hurricane Harvey impacted 1,100 properties, while Hurricanes Irma and Maria impacted 1,400 properties. The exact number of households impacted is still growing as additional information becomes available.

To facilitate quick responses to the on-the-ground situation, HUD will be issuing a notice detailing expedited waiver procedures for PHAs in the affected areas. The notice will be published in the Federal Register early next week. According to HUD, the notice will allow PHAs to apply for waivers through an expedited process, which HUD anticipates taking no more than a few business days. There will be an attachment with the notice, which PHAs can use to check off the waivers that they are requesting and provide very general and basic documentation of the need for the waiver. The waiver requests will still be submitted to the field offices.

During the call, HUD also indicated that they will provide additional guidance on how other agencies can update their disaster-related preferences so that disaster-impacted families may be able to utilize the services of other agencies. At this time, HUD believes that updating a PHA’s administrative plan for disaster-related preferences is not a “significant amendment,” making the update less burdensome for those agencies which may decide to do it.

NAHRO remains committed to providing all housing authorities in disaster-related areas with the most up-to-date information as it becomes available and assisting in any way possible.

Update: Additionally, HUD’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) has published an integrity bulletin warning “everyone affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria to be alert for fraud schemes that commonly occur following a disaster.” Schemes include scam housing inspectors, scam contractors, fake relief programs, flood-damaged cars being offered for resale, and mortgage rescue scams. Additional information can be found here.

HUD Increases HCV Administrative Fee Proration

In a letter to PHA Executive Directors on Wednesday, August 30, 2017,  HUD announced that it had calculated each PHA’s Administrative Fee eligibility for the months of January to June and established an estimated proration factor. In March of 2017, the proration factor was slightly higher than 74 percent. HUD “[t]hrough the use of recaptured and carryover funds that were reprogrammed” was able to increase the national administrative fee proration to “be around 76%-77%.” The Department will provide a 77 percent proration from between January to June with a 76 percent proration for the final six months of the year. This is only an estimated proration factor. The final reconciliation will determine the final proration factor.

While NAHRO is pleased at the increase in the proration of the administrative fee, it is still far from the full funding that is needed to run the Housing Choice Voucher program. NAHRO continues to educate policy makers about the need for full funding to properly administer affordable housing programs.

9/6/17 update – HUD has sent an email on the administrative fee proration stating “[a]t this point, HUD has reprogrammed available carryover funds, which have increased the national proration to 77% through June 2017. However, the final administrative fee reconciliation (December 2017), which will account for the total number of units leased for CY 2017, will determine the final administrative fee proration.”

9/11/18 correction – typographical error for the old proration was corrected.

HUD Publishes HUD-VASH Registration of Interest Notice

Today HUD published a notice, PIH 2017-17 (HA), titled “Registration of Interest for HUD-VASH Vouchers.” The notice instructs PHAs that HUD seeks to award tenant-based HUD-VASH vouchers to “self-identified, interested PHAs based on local need.” All awarded vouchers may be project-based. The 2017 Appropriations Act provides $40 million of for HUD-VASH vouchers for approximately 5,500 new HUD-VASH vouchers. The HUD-VASH program combines Housing Choice Vouchers (HCVs) with case management and clinical services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs at its medical centers (VAMC) and community based outpatient clinics (CBOCs) for veterans. The registration deadline is midnight of the PHA’s local time on October 31, 2017.

There will be a two-step award process:

  1. PHAs will respond to the published notice with an email and a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Letter of Support (PHAs must respond to the notice to be considered for a HUD-VASH award); and
  2. Based on a need formula, registered PHAs that are selected will receive an invitation to apply for a specific number of HUD-VASH vouchers.

To register interest, PHAs must send an email to VASH2017@hud.gov. The subject line of the email should include the text “Registration of Interest” and include the PHA code. The body of the email should identify with which VAMC or CBOC the PHA will be partnering. The PHAs must also attach a signed letter of support from their partnering VA facility, and the letter must be signed by the Director of the VA Medical Center or Veterans Integrated Service Network. A separate email must be sent for each partnership with a VAMC or CBOC. Emails without the signed letter or support will not be considered for an award (this can not be fixed at a later date).

HUD may award remaining funds via an invitation to additional PHAs. All civil rights matters must be resolved prior to the invitation to apply for HUD-VASH vouchers.

The full notice can be read here.

HUD Publishes FY 2018 Fair Market Rents

Today, HUD released its fiscal year (FY) 2018 Fair Market Rents (FMRs) and published notification of the release in a notice titled “Fair Market Rents for the Housing Choice Voucher Program, Moderate Rehabilitation Single Room Occupancy Program, and Other Programs Fiscal Year 2018 and Adoption of Methodology Changes for Estimating Fair Market Rents.” In addition to providing notification of the release of the FY 2018 FMRs, the notice also adopts the previously proposed tweaks to the FMR methodology, describes how the FY 2018 FMRs are calculated, lists how to request reevaluations of FMRs, and responds to previously submitted comments on the previously published notice on methodology changes.

Changes to law and regulation have created some differences in the notification about FMRs. Due to a change in the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016, HUD may now post FMRs on their website without having to publish them in the Federal Register as long as interested stakeholders are given opportunity to comment on material changes in methodology and are given the opportunity to request a reevaluation of a specific FMR. A change from the Small Area FMR rule is that both FMRs and Small Area FMRs may be no less than 90 percent of the prior year’s FMRs (i.e., Small Area FMRs and FMRs may only decrease by a maximum of ten percent from the previous year).

HUD previously announced proposed changes in the methodology, which HUD is adopting with this notice. In NAHRO’s comment letter, we did not object to any of the changes and expressed cautious optimism that the changes may lead to marginal improvements in the accuracy of FMRs.

In the notice, HUD notes that it will “continue to accept public comments on the methods HUD uses to calculate FY 2018 FMRs, including Small Area FMRs and the FMR levels for specific areas.”

The published FY 2018 Fair Market Rents can be found here.

The notice announcing the publication of the FY 2018 Fair Market Rents can be found here.

Interim Evaluation Illustrates Why Small Area FMRs Should be Voluntary

In mid-August, HUD published an interim evaluation which showed mixed results for the efficacy of Small Area Fair Market Rents (FMRs). Fair Market Rents are calculated by HUD on the county or metropolitan area level. HUD states that the FMR is the amount of money that would be needed to pay the gross rent (shelter rent plus utilities) of privately owned, decent, and safe rental housing of a modest nature. Fair Market Rents help determine the amount of rent covered by the voucher (i.e., the higher the FMR, the higher the potential value of the voucher). Small Area FMRs are FMRs calculated by zip code. The intended effect of Small Area FMRs is to decrease subsidies in low-opportunity (low-rent) neighborhoods and increase subsidies in high-opportunity (high-rent) neighborhoods to incentivize families to move from low-opportunity neighborhoods to high-opportunity neighborhoods.

In 2012, HUD began the Small Area FMR Demonstration (though the Demonstration uses PHAs which have been using Small Area FMRs since before 2012) which tested, among other things, the mobility incentive of Small Area FMRs across seven public housing agencies (PHAs) with varied and diverse characteristics. This new HUD interim evaluation titled “Small Area Fair Market Rent Demonstration Evaluation Interim Report” shows that Small Area FMRs have a mixed impact. Among other findings, the report has four key takeaways about the use of Small Area FMRs: 1) different housing markets are impacted differently; 2) there are more families moving into areas of opportunity; 3) there is a loss of affordable units; and 4) there is an aggregate higher cost burden for families. Understanding these findings illustrates why Small Area FMRs have both benefits and costs. Continue reading

HUD PD&R Thoughts on Implementing Small Area FMRs

HUD has published a short piece by Acting General Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research (PD&R) Todd Richardson in both HUD’s blog–the HUDdle–and on the HUDUser website as a piece titled “Message From PD&R Senior Leadership.” The piece notes that the decision to suspend the implementation of Small Area FMRs was a result of research. It goes on to note that “[w]e now have some preliminary results from a just-published interim evaluation that provides information on . . . program impacts such as changes to the availability of affordable units, average Housing [Assistance] Payments, and tenant rent burden.”

Additionally, the post offers great information on how to implement Small Area FMRs, for those PHAs which choose to implement Small Area FMRs now. The relevant information is reproduced exactly below except for some minor formatting changes.

  • Know your market.
    • Do your own market research. Does this change make more or fewer units available? Will this change cause you to have higher or lower average Housing Assistance Payments (HAP)? PHAs that operate only in high cost areas will experience a significant increase in their average HAP. PHAs that operate mostly in low cost areas may see a decrease in their average HAP, although the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016 (HOTMA) allows PHAs to grandfather payment standards for tenants that remain in place. The final rule implemented the HOTMA provision and provides additional flexibilities for PHAs in setting payment standards for families currently receiving assistance in areas where the FMR decreases.
    • Do the leg work to determine how you would set payment standards around the Small Area FMR before you have to do it. This is a major work item.
    • Think about recruiting new landlords.
    • Ideally you are ready to implement Small Area FMRs when market conditions are favorable. A soft rental market is your friend.
  • Get the back office ready.
    • This does increase your administrative costs — both one-time costs for information technology (IT) changes and the development of new procedures as well as ongoing operations costs. Start planning your administrative budget.
    • Upgrade your IT now.
    • Be prepared for a spike in moves among existing tenants. You may need to temporarily increase your capacity to conduct inspections.
    • Talk to your front-line staff about implementation before and during the process. Be quick to address misunderstandings and retrain as needed.

The Interim Small Area FMR report can be found here, while the final Small Area FMR rule can be found here.

The entire post can be found either here or here.