NAHRO’s New Housing Proposals Focus on the Future

The nation’s public housing agencies and community development agencies have been housing our nation’s families and creating vibrant, stable communities for decades. And they’re continuing to do this vital work of providing shelter, creating opportunity, and addressing inequities during a pandemic that’s straining both local and national resources.

But even as we continue to cope with the fallout of COVID-19, we must also work on solutions for both current and future housing needs. We need new housing construction, more resources for existing housing programs, and flexibilities that prioritize progress over paperwork. NAHRO’s What Happens Next: Housing Beyond the Pandemic provides funding and policy proposals that will:

  • Increase housing supply and improve affordability
  • Preserve existing affordable housing
  • Stabilize families, and
  • Prioritize progress over paperwork.

The paper is available here.

HUD Reports Worst Case Housing Needs Decreased in 2017

HUD has released the seventeenth edition of Worst Case Housing Needs: 2019 Report to Congress, which measures various demographic and economic trends among very low-income (VLI) renter households with “worst-case” housing needs, who do not receive government assistance and spend more than 50 percent of their income on rent, live in inadequate housing, or both. Very low-income renters earn less than half of the Area Median Income (AMI).  

In 2017, 7.7 million households had wors- case needs, representing 6.3 percent of all U.S. households. This total has decreased 7 percent from 8.3 million in 2015, which the report attributes the decline to rising income and other economic factors lifting households out of poverty. However, the report notes that the affordable housing shortage has undermined those gains and worsened housing security for renters who remain low-income. The number of households with worst case needs also remains far above pre-recession levels and 30 percent higher than the 2007 estimate of 5.9 million households.  

Other report highlights include:  

  • Nationally, 47.2 percent of VLI households had worst case needs in 2017. Ninety-five percent of worst-case households reporting having severe rent burdens only. Of the remaining 5 percent, half reported inadequate housing, and half reported both.  
  • The number of households with worst-case needs declined between 2015 and 2017 across all racial and ethnic groups. Nonwhite households accounted for 52.9 percent of all worst-case needs, but non-Hispanic white households have the largest share among ethnic groups with 47.1 percent.  
  • The number of VLI households with children decreased by 763,000 over the two years due to rising incomes. However, many more families would exhibit worst case needs without housing assistance.  
  • Worst case needs were more prevalent in the Southern and Western states and in suburban areas, where relatively fewer VLI households receive government assistance. Less than a third of VLI householders were able to avoid severe housing problems without government assistance.  

The affordable housing shortage and strong demand from renters has intensified competition for available units, resulting in inefficient allocation: more than a third of units affordable to VLI households are instead occupied by higher-income households. While overall rental stock has grown slowly since 2015 and there is a surplus among higher-income renters, the number of affordable units declined four percent in that same period, outpacing the decline in worst case needs. In 2017, there were fewer than 60 affordable units available per 100 VLI renters, and only 35 units per 100 Extremely Low Income (ELI) renters, who make less than 30 percent of the AMI.  

As the number of unassisted VLI households dropped, the proportion of such households with worst-case needs increased, suggesting intensifying need among those who remain unassisted driven mainly by the affordable housing shortage. Furthermore, income gains have been offset by rising rents, and even with government assistance many VLI households have difficulty finding adequate and affordable housing. HUD points to the need to increase access to affordable housing by reducing regulatory barriers to development and recruiting more landlords to participate in voucher programs.  

Wednesday Webinar: Show Your Agency’s Excellence With Accreditation! Tomorrow at 2pm ET

Join us tomorrow, July 1, 2020 at 2pm eastern time for NAHRO’s Wednesday Webinar to get caught up on the latest assessment standards! Accreditation is a very effective way to demonstrate your agency’s excellence to the community and other stakeholders. Join special guests from the Affordable Housing Accreditation Board and accredited housing agencies as they discuss the benefits of AHAB accreditation and share stories about the accreditation process for their organizations. Also learn about the eight industry-adopted management standards and how accreditation can be used to enhance staff morale and public trust, and to reduce inefficiencies.

Our panelists include:

• Diana McWilliams, CEO, Affordable Housing Accreditation Board

• Coy Maienza, Director of Accreditation, Affordable Housing Accreditation Board

• Amy Wright, Director of Administration, Keene Housing, New Hampshire

• Duane Leonard, Executive Director, Housing Authority of Snohomish County, Washington

• Sarah Max, Executive Assistant & Accreditation Coordinator, Housing Authority of Snohomish County, Washington

• Maria Zissimos, Chief Counsel and Chief Operating Officer, Accreditation Coordinator, Chester Housing Authority, Pennsylvania

Register Here!

Congress Holds Hearings on Oversight and Rental Assistance

On June 9, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs held a committee hearing on the oversight of housing regulators. The two witnesses at the hearing were Secretary Ben Carson of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Director Mark Calabria of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).    

Secretary Carson shared that HUD is working to meet all statutory requirements related to the distribution of CARES Act funds. Of the $12.4 billion that HUD received from the CARES Act, $9.1 billion has already been allocated. The remaining CDBG funds will be allocated by October 1st and the remaining ESG fund allocations were announced on the same day as the hearing. Regarding rent payments, Secretary Carson urged HUD-assisted renters to recertify their incomes with their local PHAs if they need lower rent payments due to COVID-19.   

A few Senators expressed their opinion that Americans need expanded rental assistance and unemployment benefits. Secretary Carson did not comment on any plans for future housing-related COVID-19 funding, other than to express that HUD will closely monitor the situation.   

This hearing was followed by a June 10 hearing held by the House Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development, and Insurance which featured four witnesses speaking about the impact COVID-19 will have on evictions and rental assistance.  

Cashuana Hill, the Executive Director of the Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center, spoke of the role systemic racism plays in housing segregation, as well as the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on black and Latino workers. She called for rental assistance programs to consider equity concerns and reduce housing discrimination.  

Mike Kringsella, the Executive Director of Up for Growth, claimed that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated a pre-existing housing shortage of roughly 7.3 million units, and urged Congress to provide additional renter assistance.  

Ann Oliva, a Visiting Senior Fellow from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, linked housing availability to public health and spoke of the importance a stable housing situation can play in helping people protect themselves from COVID-19. 

Jennty Schuetz, a Fellow from the Brookings Institute, noted that the federal government plays a smaller role in rental housing regulation than in the mortgage market – rental housing oversight is instead left to states, resulting in a patchwork of regulations. She added that an eviction moratorium is not a long-term solution, as owed rent builds up over time and small-scale landlords forgo revenue.  

The Subcommittee’s questions centered around possible funding mechanisms to disburse rental assistance, how to best promote racial equity in the disaster response, and how to help small landlords navigate loss of income and maintenance demand during the pandemic. 

NAHRO continues to advocate for affordable housing funding and effective, community-based policy solutions. Learn about NAHRO’s 2020 Legislative and Regulatory Agenda and more about NAHRO advocacy at www.nahro.org/advocacy.  

Chairwoman Maxine Waters joins NAHRO’s Managing During COVID-19: Congressional Response webinar: Tomorrow at 12noon eastern

Tomorrow, Tuesday, June 2, 2020 at 12noon eastern time NAHRO is hosting a webinar: Managing During COVID-19: Congressional Response.

Join us for a very special conversation with Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Cali.), Chairwoman of the Financial Services Committee. Congresswoman Waters has been a dedicated advocate for affordable housing throughout her entire career, a priority that has taken center stage during the COVID-19 crisis. For this reason, NAHRO leadership will honor her with our Legislator of the Year award.

Help NAHRO thank the Congresswoman for the CARES Act and for her commitment to affordable housing and community development programs!

Register for tomorrow’s webinar: Managing During COVID-19: Congressional Response!

COVID-19 CDBG Eviction Moratorium Q&A Released

Earlier today, HUD released a Q&A to address questions concerning the eviction moratorium established by the CARES Act. Section 4024 of the Act imposes a 120-day moratorium on evictions, ending July 24, 2020. The moratorium extends to units in projects receiving funding from Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), Neighborhood Stabilization Programs (NSP) or Disaster Recovery.  

The Q&A clarifies which units are covered by the eviction moratorium, and which fees landlords may charge tenants for accrued costs after the moratorium ends. The full Q&A can be found here. For additional guidance, please visit the CDBG COVID-19 Resources page.  

NAHRO provides additional COVID-19 resources at www.NAHRO.org/coronavirus.

Managing During COVID-19: Homelessness Resources Webinar – Wed, May 27 at 2pm ET

On Wednesday, May 27. 2020, NAHRO is hosting a complimentary webinar – Managing During COVID-19: Homelessness Resources.

Join Nan Roman, President and CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, and leaders from NAHRO member agencies for a discussion of available homelessness resources and best practices for their use. Bring your questions and comments and join your fellow PHAs for this interactive webinar!

Register for NAHRO’s Managing During COVID-19: Homelessness Resources Webinar here!

Chris Campbell Joins NAHRO for the Summer!

Greetings! My name is Chris Campbell, and I’m a Master of Public Policy (MPP) student at the University of Michigan. I’ll be interning remotely with NAHRO’s Policy and Program Development team this summer.  

Before starting graduate school, I worked for the Los Angeles City Council’s Office of the Chief Legislative Analyst, where I staffed the Planning and Land Use Management Committee.  My work with the Committee introduced me to the basic aspects of the nation’s affordable housing shortage, as well as the debate over which strategies can best help families meet their housing costs.  

Everyone needs a place to live – as a lifelong resident of Southern California, I understand the stress high housing costs can place on a family. This isn’t just a West Coast problem, however. Cities and rural areas across the country need more affordable, high-quality homes to promote the health and well-being of their residents, a fact laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic. The urgency of our nation’s affordable housing shortage will only grow in its aftermath. I look forward to working with NAHRO’s member agencies and HUD this summer to gain more insight into how federal, state and local government can work together to help renters and owners keep a roof over their heads, especially in these unprecedented times.  

I’ll be posting to the NAHRO blog weekly about housing-related policy developments, so stay tuned!  

Webinar Tomorrow: Managing During COIVD-19: Community Development: CDBG, HOME, ESG

Join NAHRO and Acting HUD Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development (CPD) John Gibbs from 2 p.m. – 3 p.m. eastern tomorrow, May 13, 2020, for a discussion on CPD’s response to the COVID-19 emergency. With a focus on CDBG, HOME, and ESG, Acting Assistant Secretary Gibbs will provide an update on CPD’s efforts to provide communities with access to waivers and supplemental funding and provide insights into CPD’s actions to address the COVID-19 crisis. Following the update, Acting Assistant Secretary Gibbs and his staff will join us for a moderated question and answer session.

Register for the complimentary webinar here!

HUD’s Section 3 Still Required, Very Limited Reporting Extension (Updated)

While HUD’s Offices of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) and Community Planning and Development (CPD) have provided a number of waivers and flexibilities for the Public Housing program, Housing Choice Voucher program, HOME Investment Partnership program, Community Development Block Grant, and Continuum of Care (CoC) program, HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) has not waived any of the Section 3 statutory and regulatory requirements.

[Updated Text Begins] On April 17, 2020, FHEO released updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) for Section 3 Covered Recipients which addresses 13 questions on how COVID-19 affects Section 3 compliance. Question 2 specifically asks “Are Section 3 Compliance requirements waived during the virus condition?” and FHEO’s answer is “No, the Section 3 statutory and regulatory requirements have not been waived.” Updated questions are also asked about Section 3 SPEARS reporting requirements and deadlines. In response, FHEO states that the Section 3 reporting requirement is not waived and Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) and community development agencies have an extension until July 31, 2020. Additional extensions are not addressed in the updated FAQ but generally PHAs and community development agencies may request extensions beyond July 31, 2020 but must provide justification and any extension request will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. [Updated Text Ends]

[Removed Text Begins] On April 3, 2020, FHEO released Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) for Section 3 Covered Recipients which addresses 13 questions on how COVID-19 affects Section 3 compliance. Question 2 specifically asks “Are Section 3 Compliance requirements waived during the virus condition?” and FHEO’s answer is “No, the Section 3 statutory and regulatory requirements have not been waived.” Questions are also asked about Section 3 SPEARS reporting requirements and deadlines. In response, FHEO states that the Section 3 reporting requirement is not waived and Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) and community development agencies have an extension until June 1, 2020 but “must clearly demonstrate how COVID-19 precluded timely reporting.” PHAs and community development agencies may request extensions beyond June 1, 2020 but must provide justification and any extension request will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.[Removed Text Ends]

FHEO has not waived or reduced the Section 3 requirements and reporting so PHAs and community development agencies must continue to create employment, training and contracting opportunities to Section 3 residents and Section 3 businesses. The Safe Harbor requirements have not been reduced either. PHAs and community development agencies should continue to hire staff and procure contracts, if possible, and if unable to meet the Safe Harbor requirements, they should document their efforts “to make every possible effort ‘to the greatest extent feasible’ to make employment and contracting opportunities available to” Section 3 residents.

NAHRO is relaying information from our members on the unprecedented operational and economic concerns affordable housing providers are facing to HUD and is requesting maximum flexibility for PHAs and community development agencies during the COVID-19 pandemic emergency.

NAHRO will continue to provide the latest information from HUD and Congress on the COVID-19 emergency response to our members and the public through our communication tools including the NAHRO coronavirus webpage and the NAHRO blog.