Complimentary Webinar – Public Housing Repositioning – July 2, 1pm Eastern

On Tuesday, July 2, NAHRO will be hosting a complimentary webinar on HUD’s current effort of Public Housing Repositioning. Below is information on the session and the registration link. This session is for agencies of all sizes from the smallest to the largest and will discuss HUD’s outreach, the options and first-hand PHA experiences.

Public Housing Preservation Options – The PHA Perspective

Has HUD reached out to your agency to discuss the future of your public housing? Join us for this complimentary session to review your options, and the NAHRO Policy team is here to provide more information and help sort through a lot of the chatter. Are you interested in joining the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), using the Section 18 Demolition/Disposition program, removing your Declaration of Trust, participating in a streamlined voluntary conversion process, or continuing in public housing? We’ll provide overviews of the options available to PHAs of all sizes and discuss HUD’s plans for the future. We will also be joined by Andy Rodriguez of the Nampa (ID) Housing Authority, who will share Nampa’s experiences and decision making process in preserving their Public Housing.

Please register for Public Housing Preservation Options – The PHA Perspective on Jul 2, 2019 1:00 PM EDT at:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4425060811873671691?source=blog

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

House Appropriations Approves FY 2020 THUD Spending Bill, Report on Small Agencies Included in S.2155

The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday approved the FY 2020 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) spending bill by a vote of 29 to 21. The bill now moves to the House floor, though the timing on a full House vote is unclear.

The spending bill was approved with a single amendment, a manager’s package that includes a provision mandating HUD report on which small agencies are included in regulatory relief provided by the Economic Growth, Regulatory Reform, and Consumer Protection Act of 2018 (frequently referred to as S. 2155). Congressman Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) requested the language be included at the advice of NAHRO.

Full details of the bill can be found on NAHRO’s web site (password restricted).

The House will consider a five-bill omnibus package next week, but unfortunately THUD is not included in the package. Timing of when the THUD bill will move to the floor isn’t known, though House Democratic leadership said they intend to approve all spending bills by the end of June. The Senate has not begun appropriations work yet, insisting that they will wait for a budget deal to be approved.

Prior to the full committee mark-up, report language was also released on the bill. These notable provisions were included:

  • Sexual Harassment in Housing – Committee wants a report no later than 90 days after enactment on the activities of an interagency task force between HUD and DOJ to combat sexual harassment.
  • Tenant-based rental assistance:
    • TPVs – more funding for TPVs is not to reposition public housing, but to address anticipated closures of certain PHA properties.
    • Fair Market Rents – committee directs HUD to work with authorizing committees to “develop statutory flexibilities” so that vouchers will be usable in rapidly rising rental markets.
    • Purchasing power of vouchers – committee directs HUD to report on impacts of rising rental market prices on purchasing power of vouchers. HUD should develop recommendations regarding funding levels necessary to ensure that PHAs can serve the same number of households.
  • PD&R
    • Studies in the works:
      • Collaborating with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – how Medicare and Medicaid funds can be used to support programs that use affordable senior housing as a platform for coordinating health, etc.
      • A study of alternative methods for calculating FMRs in rental markets with rapidly rising rents.
  • Public Housing
    • Secretary must evaluate requiring carbon monoxide detectors in HUD rental housing.
    • HUD must continue improving REAC inspections, as required in the House bill. This includes looking into potentially using civil monetary penalties to ensure PHAs and landlords maintain physical quality of HUD rental units. Congress also asks HUD to solicit comments from stakeholders, including tenants, on how they can improve REAC inspections. HUD needs to submit a 60-day progress report to Congress.
    • Congress asks HUD to create more stringent inspections for lead.
    • HUD must release S. 2155 FSS regulations within 90 days of enactment.

 

Clean Air for All Presents Practical Smoke-Free Tools in Webinar

Clean Air for All, a collaboration between NAHRO, Live Smoke Free, and NAR-SAAH, hosted a webinar about smoke-free requirements for public housing yesterday. The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) smoke-free rule went into effect on July 30, 2018 and requires that all buildings funded by public housing prohibit smoking in units, in indoor common spaces, and within 25 feet of buildings.

Throughout the webinar, Clean Air for All emphasized the importance of fostering communication between housing authorities and residents. The presenters demonstrated how several specific tools might help agencies to both comply with the rule and improve health outcomes. Example strategies for housing staff included engaging with residents about smoke-free policies formally and informally, using conflict resolution methods, and providing materials for quitting smoking. They demonstrated that enforcing the rule is an opportunity to support residents’ health goals. Finally, initial results from an ongoing NAR-SAAH resident survey highlight that successful compliance with smoke-free policies requires resident participation and buy-in.

For more information about smoke-free public housing, visit the Clean Air for All website 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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Free Smoke-Free Compliance and Enforcement Webinar

On June 4, from 12:30 PM EDT to 1:30 PM EDT Clean Air for All is hosting a free webinar on smoke-free public housing compliance and enforcement. Looking for useful tools and strategies to boost compliance and improve enforcement of a smoke-free public housing policy? Join Clean Air for All to familiarize yourself with our new Smoke-Free Public Housing Compliance and Enforcement Toolkit. On this webinar, Clean Air for All will review resources from the toolkit and highlight examples and strategies that public housing agencies can utilize at their properties. The webinar will conclude with trends from a resident survey (currently underway) that illustrate resident perspectives on smoke-free public housing.

The webinar is 12:30 PM EDT to 1:30 PM EDT on June 4. Register here.

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.

New Requirements for ACC Termination and PHA Closeout

HUD recently released Notice PIH 2019-13 (HA), titled “Public Housing ACC Termination and PHA Closeout.” The Notice supersedes Notice PIH 2016-23, which outlined prior ACC termination and closeout requirements. The notice outlines the requirements a PHA must must complete when proposing to remove their remaining public housing units from the public housing program and terminate their ACC. PHAs can only remove units from their ACC through one of more of the following authorities: demo/dispo, voluntary or required conversion, homeownership, Choice Neighborhoods demolitions, property retentions, personal property dispositions, eminent domain, or RAD.

The process of ACC termination begins when the PHA submits its IMS/PIC removal application for the last units in its public housing program. As an attachment to that IMS/PIC removal application, the PHA must submit form HUD-5837, Notification of Public Housing Closeout or Future Development. PHAs must then meet specific mandatory closeout activities prior to terminating the ACC. These include disposition of all non-dwelling real property and personal property; resolving all outstanding legal matters and grants and approvals; completing a public housing audit; and reconciling  public housing funds, program income, and disposition proceeds.

The notice further discusses what PHAs should do with closeout costs, the legal status of the PHA after closeout, necessary board resolution and legal opinion if the board has disbanded, and required recordkeeping and responsibilities after ACC termination.

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.