HUD Extends Two HCV Payment Standard Waivers for 2023

On Sept. 26, HUD published a notice titled “Extension of Certain Regulatory Waivers for the Housing Choice Voucher (including Mainstream) Program and Streamlined Review Process” (Notice PIH 2022-30). The notice would extend two waivers that were previously made available for the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program.

The waivers that would be extended are the following:

  • Increase in Payment Standard During HAP [Housing Assistance Payment] Contract Term – this waiver would allow PHAs to increase the payment standard for a family at any time after the effective date of the increase instead of at the next regular reexamination.
  • Voucher Tenancy: New Payment Standard Amount – this waiver would allow PHAs to establish payment standards up to 120% of the FMR, instead of 110%, which is the maximum usually allowed in most scenarios.

Extending a Waiver

If a PHA already is using one of these waivers, it need only extend the waiver. Agencies that are using these waivers may continue to use them, without taking additional steps, until Dec. 31, 2022 and may extend them until Dec. 31, 2023. To extend the waivers, PHAs must email PIH_Expedited_Waivers@hud.gov, while copying their local field office. The notice provides details on the contents of the email to be sent. Waiver extensions may be requested until Dec. 31, 2022.

Requesting a Waiver

Agencies that wish to apply for one or both of the waivers, if they do not currently implement them, or agencies that have not extended their waiver before the deadline, may request the use of the waiver through a streamlined approval process. Requests for waiver usage under this process must be submitted to HUD before the end of Sept. 30, 2023.

Agencies that request a waiver through this process must provide a good cause justification. The good cause justification must include all of the following:

  • Why the PHA needs the waiver;
  • The impact on PHA operations or applicants if the waiver is not provided; and
  • The proposed waiver duration (this should be limited to the time the PHA needs the waiver, but should not exceed Dec. 31, 2023).

Examples of good cause for each of the waivers can be found below:

  • Increase in Payment Standard During HAP Contract Term;
    • Increases in family rent burdens;
    • Potential negative impacts to tenants or the onset of housing instability;
  • Voucher Tenancy: New Payment Standard Amount;
    • Rental Market Fluctuations – The PHA is in an area that HUD has determined has significant rental market fluctuations (a list of those areas is listed at the end of the notice);
    • Utilization Rate – The PHA has a lower than 98% utilization rate for the current year or more than a 5% utilization drop between 2019 and 2021; The utilization rate for this purpose is the higher of the unit utilization rate or the budget utilization rate; and
    • Timely Leasing of Vouchers – the PHA has leased less than 85% of the vouchers that it has issued in the last six months.

A PHA may request a waiver by emailing PIH_Expedited_Waivers@hud.gov, while copying their local field office. The notice provides details on the contents of the email to be sent.

Other Waivers

As always, a PHA may use the regular waiver request process for any additional waiver it may require, but those requests will not be subject to a streamlined approval process.

The full notice may be found here.

HUD Releases Disaster Guidebook

This month, HUD released its Public Housing Agency Disaster Readiness, Response, and Recovery Guidebook. The guidebook includes a collection of information, best practices, and resources for PHAs related to preparation for, responding to, and recovering from natural disasters. The first section of the guidebook discusses PHA readiness and covers risk assessment, internal policies and resources, training and communication, coordination and partnerships, and hazard mitigation and resilience. The second portion focuses on response and covers activation and deployment, portfolio assessment, and informing HUD of a diesters. And the last section covers recovery, and includes recovery support strategies, restoring business operations, rehousing displaced residents, repairing and rebuilding the public housing portfolio, and transitioning back to normalization.

Agencies should look to the guidebook before they are impacted by a natural disaster. Although agencies impacted by presidentially declared natural disasters are eligible for assistance from FEMA, they should prepare beforehand to ensure that PHAs can expedite disaster recovery by thinking about risk beforehand and knowing what to expect when and after a disaster strikes.

The guidebook can be found here.

FSS Action Plan Deadline Is Approaching

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will be accepting FSS Action Plans up until the deadline on September 30, 2022.

New Action Plans must be submitted as required by the FSS final rule. The Plan should describe how a program will be administered, services that will be offered, and the size/characteristics of anticipated participants of the program.

New participants of an FSS program will not be able to be enrolled until the Action Plan is approved by HUD. The reviewal process takes up to 45 days and must be approved by HUD by November 14. Plans should be submitted via email to PHAFSSActionPlans@hud.gov with the subject line and attachment names titled by PHA’s name and number.

More information on the Plan and what to submit can be found in the August 31 edition of The Monitor here.

Continuum of Care Program Supplemental NOFO Released

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the Continuum of Care (CoC) Program Supplemental Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) to Address Unsheltered and Rural Homelessness this past August. This competitive funding opportunity would make up to $322 million available to address unsheltered and rural homelessness. Applications must be submitted in e-snaps no later than October 20, 2022, at 8:00 PM EDT.

CoC’s interested in applying must demonstrate a community-wide approach in reducing homelessness. Funding is available for four different categories which include:

  1. The Unsheltered Homelessness Set Aside
  2. The Rural Set Aside
  3. CoC Planning Unsheltered Homelessness Set Aside
  4. Unified Funding Agency (UFA) Costs Unsheltered Homelessness Set Aside

Applicants must already be an existing CoC and can apply to either funding opportunity or both depending on their needs and eligibility. The NOFO can be found here.

For more information about this NOFO please see our next edition of The Monitor on September 15.

HUD Publishes 2023 FMRs

On Sept. 1, HUD published in the Federal Register a notice announcing the new Fair Market Rents for 2023. Fair Market Rents (FMRs) are used by the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program to determine the payment standard, which is used to calculate the amount of rental assistance a family in the program may receive in a certain area. Certain other programs also use FMRs. In calculating these FMRs, HUD altered their methodology to use additional private-sector data. The Department previously asked for comment on their new methodology and NAHRO responded with comments.

Housing agencies that are interested in reevaluating their area’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 FMRs must submit a reevaluation request to HUD by Oct. 3, 2022. The requestor must also submit data to HUD more recent than the 2019 American Community Survey (ACS) data used in calculating the FY 2023 FMRs. The Department requires data on “gross rents paid in the FMR area for occupied standard quality rental housing units” and the data “must be sufficient for HUD to calculate a 40th and 50th percentile two-bedroom gross rent.” Requestors may also gather this data through the use of surveys. This data must be submitted by Jan. 6, 2023.

The FMRs are effective on Oct. 1, 2022.

The FY 2023 FMRs along with other FMR-related information can be found here.

The Federal Register notice can be found here.

HUD’s Press Release on the new FMRs can be found here.

New Voucher Notices Released

Recently, HUD released four new Notices. Two of the Notices relate to HUD-VASH Vouchers, one is on the Stability Voucher Program, and the last is on revocation and reallocation of Emergency Housing Voucher Awards.

Notice PIH 2022-22: Revoke and Reallocation of Emergency Housing Vouchers: This notice explains HUD’s process for revocation and reallocation of Emergency Housing Voucher (EHV) awards. The Notice updates the award allocation formula found in Section 4 of Notice PIH 2021-15 in connection with reallocation of the EHV Awards.

Notice PIH 2022-24: Stability Voucher Program: This notice explains HUD’s non-competitive allocation strategy and program requirements for the new Stability Voucher program. HUD is awarding up to $43,439,000 to support approximately 4,000 new incremental vouchers. Stability Vouchers may assist households who are homeless, at-risk of homelessness, those fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violent, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking, and veterans and families that include a veteran family member that one of the proceeding criteria. All Registrations of Interest must be transmitted no later than 11:59:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on October 20, 2022.

Notice PIH 2022-25: Voluntary Reallocation or Recapture of HUD-VASH Vouchers: This notice established the processes under which a HUD-VASH PHA may be approved to voluntarily reallocate all or a portion of their HUD-VASH vouchers to another HUD-VASH PHA or, if reallocation is not an option, have all or a portion of their HUD-VASH vouchers returned back to HUD.

Notice PIH 2022-26: Registration of Interest for HUD-VASH Vouchers: This Notice announces the availability of approximately $79 million in HUD-VASH vouchers. HUD anticipates that the funding will support approximately 8,500 new HUD-VASH vouchers. The FY 22 HUD-VASH Electronic Registration of Interest form must be submitted no later than midnight in the time zone of the PHA on Friday, September 16, 2022.

HUD Releases FSS Sample Action Plan

On August 16, HUD released a sample version of the FSS Action Plan, which is a required document to be completed for each Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program (funded or not) to be approved by HUD. The FSS Program, which has recently seen changes due to the announcement of the final rule effective June 17, 2022, implements the requirement for all grantees to submit new Action Plans. The Plan should describe how a program will be administered, services that will be offered, and the size/characteristics of anticipated participants of the program.

In the sample, HUD includes instructions for grantees/programs in creating their Action Plan, an Action Plan template, and a checklist for specific items to be addressed in the Plan. The sample also includes resources that can help in the submission process, which must be completed by September 30, 2022. The reviewal process of an Action Plan takes up to 45 days. New participants of an FSS program will not be able to be enrolled until the Action Plan is approved by HUD.

The Sample Action Plan can be found here.

More information and details on how to create your Action Plan for the FSS Program will be in the August 31 addition of the NAHRO Monitor.

HUD Issues Notice on FSS Escrow

On July 27, the Department of Housing and Urban Development issued Notice PIH-2022-20, which clarifies portions of the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program final rule. The final rule was published in May of this year and went into effect on June 17, 2022. The sections that are clarified in the notice cover the establishment of an escrow account for FSS participating families, the use of forfeited FSS escrow funds, and reporting requirements of financial data as related to FSS escrows.

The notice provides the following information summarized below:

Establishing an FSS Escrow Account

  • PHAs or owners are required to deposit FSS escrow funds of all families participating in an FSS program into a single interest-bearing depository account.
  • The escrow account may be part of the PHA or owner’s overall account or a separate account.
  • Funds deposited into either account must only be used for the purposes of escrow.
  • The total of the account funds must be supported by accounting records that show the balance applicable to each FSS participating family.

Forfeited FSS Escrow Funds

  • The final rule requires that all forfeited escrow funds be used by a PHA/owner to benefit any FSS participants in good standing with the program regardless of the original funding source.
  • The funds may only be used for activities such as transportation, child care, training, fees associated with employment or professional development, training for FSS Coordinators, and any other activities as determined by HUD.

Reporting Financial Data

  • PHAs that administer the Section 8 and/or Section 9 programs must submit annual financial data to HUD.
  • Data must be submitted electronically and be prepared in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.
  • The FSS program provides an accounting brief that provides clarity for this process. The brief can be found here.

For more information, see the notice here.

CoC Program Competition Webinar

HUD will be hosting a Webinar on the FY 2022 Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the Continuum of Care (CoC) Program Competition on August 11 from 2:30-4 PM ET. The webinar will highlight various parts of the CoC Competition process including: funding tiers, CoC application, and project application. Interested parties can join the webinar here. HUD posted the CoC NOFO on August 1. Applications are due September 30. The NOFO is available at grants.gov.

NHLP and PRRAC Document on Options to Increase HCV Payment Standards

The National Housing Law Project (NHLP) and the Poverty & Race Research Action Council (PRRAC) have written a document titled “New Options to Increase Housing Choice Voucher Payment Standards.” Typically, a PHA can set its payment standard at between 90% to 110% of the Fair Market Rent (FMR). This document provides information on instances where PHAs can set payment standards up to 120% (or use 50th percentile FMRs, which are set higher than normal FMRs).

The document provides the following summarized information on payment standards and FMRs (see the full document for details):

  • PHAs can establish payment standards higher than 110% when implementing a reasonable accommodation for a family that includes a person with a disability. The PHA may establish an exception payment standard up to 120%.
  • By request of a PHA, HUD may approve an exception payment start for a designated part of an FMR area (i.e., an exception area) where the total population of the HUD-approved exception area does not exceed 50% of the population of the area.
  • PHAs may request FMRs be calculated at the 50th percentile rent (normally FMRs are calculated at the 40th percentile rent–i.e., they are set so that about 40% of the available housing stock in a given geography is accessible to renters) to establish a higher success rate for their voucher program. The PHA will be able to set the payment standard at 90% to 110% of the 50th percentile rent.
  • In instances where the PHA previously had a 50th percentile FMR and now has a 40th percentile FMR, HUD may approve a payment standard amount based on the 50th percentile rent, if the PHA scored well on the SEMAP (Section Eight Management Assessment Program) deconcentration bonus indicator.
  • PHAs may be able to set payment standards up to 120% through the use of waivers in the Notice PIH 2022-09.
  • PHAs that voluntarily use Small Area FMRs can set a payment standard up to 120% of the Small Area FMR using Notice PIH 2022-09.
  • PHAs that mandatorily use Small Area FMRs can set a payment standard up to 120% of the Small Area FMR using Notice PIH 2022-09.
  • PHAs with Moving to Work (MTW) status can use their MTW flexibilities to set higher payment standards.

The document provides additional information and citations to the appropriate regulatory provisions and guidance documents.

The full document can be found here.