HUD Posts Mainstream Voucher FY 2019 NOFA Webinar

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has published a webinar on its fiscal year 2019 Mainstream Voucher application.

Additionally, the Department has made the following Mainstream Voucher application materials available:

All of these materials may also be found on HUD’s Mainstream Voucher Program page.

NAHRO Submits Comment Letters on Mixed-Immigration-Status rule and FMR Methodology

Mixed Immigration Status Proposed Rule

On July 5, NAHRO submitted comments on HUD’s proposed immigration rule. The proposed rule, if implemented, would terminate federal housing assistance for families with mixed-immigration-statuses.

The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials believes that the current verification of eligible status system should be left in place. The changes in the proposed rule would unnecessarily hurt families and children, including U.S. citizens, and add additional administrative burden, all without the commensurate benefits suggested in the proposal. The current subsidy proration policy decouples the size of the family from the federal benefit received. This policy has been in place for over two decades and providers of assisted housing, particularly those most impacted by this proposal that serve many mixed-status families, have not vocalized any hardships or desire to change the policy.

In its comment letter to HUD, NAHRO offers the following recommendations:

  1. Make no changes to the current eligible status verification regulations;
  2. If unwilling to follow the first recommendation, then restrict application of the new rule to new applicants of covered programs; and
  3. If unwilling to follow either of the first two recommendations, then take the steps and adopt the recommended language in NAHRO’s comment letter before implementing the proposed rule.

The Department will still be accepting comments until end of the day, July 9th. We encourage all of our members to submit comments in opposition to this rule. We also urge members to use their own language in writing comments, so that they are not automatically screened out before being read. Comments may be submitted here.

The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Official’s full comment letter can be found here.

FMR Methodology Changes

On July 5, NAHRO submitted comments on HUD’s proposed changes in how it calculates FMRs. The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Official’s comment letter can be found here.

New Voucher Funding Announced

Mainstream Vouchers
The Department recently published a new Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for new Mainstream vouchers. This NOFA makes available a $150 million for additional vouchers. The Department expects to make 300 awards from this amount with a minimum amount of $20,000 per project period to a maximum amount of $3 million per project period. These vouchers are to assist non-elderly persons with disabilities who are transitioning out of institutional or other segregated settings, at serious risk of institutionalization, currently experiencing homelessness, previously experienced homelessness and currently a client in a permanent supportive housing or rapid rehousing project, or those at risk of experiencing homelessness. The application deadline is Sept. 9, 2019.

The full Mainstream voucher NOFA can be found here.

HUD-VASH Vouchers
The Department recently published a new notice for new HUD-VASH Vouchers. The notice, titled “Registration of Interest for HUD-VASH Vouchers,” announces the availability of $40 million for approximately 5,000 vouchers. These vouchers enable homeless veterans and their families to access affordable housing and supportive services. The registration of interest deadline is August 19, 2019.

The full HUD-VASH notice can be found here.

FMR Methodology Changes Under Consideration

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is proposing to change the methodology used for estimating fair market rents. Fair market rents (FMRs) are used as the basis for payment standards which determine the maximum level of assistance in the housing choice voucher program. They are also used by certain other programs. The Department’s FMRs are set at a level that should allow a program participant to afford to rent a unit for approximately 40 percent of an area’s standard quality stock.

The Department is updating the methodology for calculating FMRs because in the past it has received comments stating that “FMRs need to incorporate more local and more timely data.” In its comments on the fiscal year (FY) 2019 FMRs, NAHRO recommended that HUD use more timely data when calculating FMRs, fund local research surveys, and continue to refine its methodology for calculating FMRs. Additionally, the Senate Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations subcommittee, in report language, urged HUD to improve its FMR estimates to “better reflect the rent inflation that occurs between the time that American Community Survey data is collected and the fiscal year for which the FMRs are produced.”

Comments on the updated process are due in 30 days. (6/5/19 edit – Comments are due by July 5, 2019.)

Click below to read more.

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Enhanced Voucher Minimum Rent Calculation Changed in Certain Circumstances

In late May, HUD published PIH Notice 2019-12 (HA) titled “Enhanced Voucher Minimum Rent Calculation for Families Whose Incomes Subsequently Increase After Having Experienced a Significant Decrease.” The notice discusses how the minimum rent calculation for enhanced vouchers changes when a program participant experiences a significant decrease in income followed by a significant increase in income.

Enhanced vouchers are offered to families following a triggering event (usually a change in status of a development in HUD’s Office of Multifamily portfolio). Families receiving enhanced vouchers must still pay a minimum rent dollar amount. If the family experiences a decrease of at least 15 percent in their income from the date of the triggering event, then the minimum rent switches to a percentage (the specific percentage used will vary depending on whether the family was assisted previously or not). If the family’s income once again increases such that the percentage of income exceeds the dollar amount at the time of the triggering event, then the rent once again reverts back to the initial dollar amount at the time of the triggering event (i.e., the family is not paying more than the dollar amount when they first received the enhanced voucher).

Public housing agencies shall apply this change at the earlier of the family’s first reexamination following the issuance of this notice or an interim reexamination as the result of the increase in family income. The change is applied prospectively from that date–not retroactively.

The full notice can be read here.

HAP Pass-Throughs and HAP Contract Transfers prohibited in PBV program

Earlier today, HUD issued guidance clarifying that Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) pass-throughs and HAP contract transfers are prohibited under current rules for project-based vouchers (PBVs) under the housing choice voucher (HCV) program.

A HAP pass-through would allow the use of HAP to “provide assistance to tenants who are displaced from . . . HAP contract units due to a disaster or rehabilitation in another building or project.” Although HUD envisions guidance that may allow this in the future, at this time PHAs may not make these payments to the owners of unoccupied units  for the purpose of rehousing families.

A HAP contract transfer would allow project-based voucher contracts to be transferred from one project to a separate and distinct project. This is different from the sale, assignment, or transfer of ownership of the HAP contract–which is allowable, if done following the appropriate PBV regulations. Contract transfers of HAP are not allowable (with some Rental Assistance Demonstration exceptions), though future guidance may change this.

The full guidance document can be found here.

UPCS-V Demonstration to be Extended for Additional 2 Years

On Tuesday, May 28th, HUD will publish in the Federal Register a notice titled “Notice of Continuation of Demonstration to Test Proposed New Method of Assessing the Physical Conditions of Voucher-Assisted Housing.” The notice states that the UPCS-V Demonstration–the program testing the in-development UPCS-V inspection protocol, used by certain testing agencies in the housing choice voucher program–will be extended for an additional two years.

The Demonstration will have three goals. First, to validate the UPCS-V beta protocol through active field testing. Second, to provide PHAs with inspection data and standardize inspection procedures. Third, to glean insight for improvement.

The notice notes that the additional time will be used to test and validate the UPCS-V beta protocol. Currently, version 2.5 of the UPCS-V protocol is active and being tested in the field. The extension will allow the newest version (i.e., the beta version) of the UPCS-V protocol to be tested.

Moving forward, HUD wishes to consider several additional questions:

  • Does the protocol meet PHA needs?
  • Is UPCS-V clear, accurate, objective, and consistent?
  • Is it practical for all inspectors, from entry level to experienced?
  • Does it provide valuable insight to PHAs, and is it cost effective for them to use?

Additionally, HUD would like to recruit more PHAs to the demonstration to gather more representative data. Agencies that wish to participate should contact HUD at ISDV@hud.gov.

Finally, the notice notes that in the long-term, public housing, the housing choice voucher program, and multifamily programs will all shift to a uniform inspection standard. This standard–called the National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate (NSPIRE)–“will leverage the infrastructure of UPCS-V to demonstrate, test, and validate NSPIRE protocols.”

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

Initial Chapters of New HCV Guidebook Published

Earlier today, HUD sent an email announcing that the initial chapters of a New Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Guidebook have been published. As the email states, guidebooks consolidate “into one document the requirements outlined in several publications: regulatory requirements, PIH Notices, Federal Register Notices, and other forms of guidance issued by HUD.” Given the complexity of navigating between several layers of regulation and guidance, having a single place to view all of a program’s rules and requirements is essential.

The three chapters that have been completed and can be read online are the following:

Chapters still being worked on include the following:

  • “Fair Housing Requirements”;
  • “Waiting List & Tenant Selection”;
  • “Housing Search and Leasing”;
  • “HAP Contracts”;
  • “Payment Standards”;
  • “Calculating Rent & Housing Assistance Payments (HAP)”;
  • “Utility Allowance”;
  • “Terminations”;
  • “Informal Hearings & Reviews”; and
  • “Special Housing Type.”

NAHRO applauds HUD updating their Housing Choice Voucher Guidebook. During the summer of 2018, NAHRO sent a letter to HUD noting the importance of the guidebooks and urging HUD to prioritize updating them.

The HCV Guidebook can be accessed here.

HCV Funding Implementation Webcast Published

Yesterday, HUD’s Financial Management Division (FMD) published a webcast on the notice titled “Implementation of Federal FY19 Funding Provisions for the Housing Choice Voucher.” The notice was published in April, and NAHRO previously mentioned it on this blog.

The webcast published on YouTube can be found here.

PowerPoint slides from the webcast can be found here.