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.

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.

HCV CARES Act Funding Closeout for the HCV, Mainstream, and Mod. Rehab. Programs

On August 3, HUD published a notice titled “CARES Act Funding Reconciliation and Closeout – Housing Choice Voucher Program, Mainstream Vouchers, and Moderate Rehabilitation Program.” The notice describes the closeout procedures for funds received from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act for the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV), the Mainstream, and the Moderate Rehabilitation (MR) programs. The period of availability for CARES Act funds ended on Dec. 31, 2021, but PHAs had 120 calendar days to “liquidate/disburse unliquidated obligations.” That 120 day period ended on April 30, 2022.

Housing agencies will receive a form SF-425 shortly and should follow instructions found in the appendix of the notice to fill out the form to report CARES Act related financial activity. The form is due Sept. 6, 2022 and should be emailed to HCVCARESActReconciliation@HUD.gov. Submitting this form will not remit amounts owed, which will be completed by the Housing Voucher Financial Management Division.

In certain scenarios, where there are unliquidated obligations that were disbursed after April 30, 2022, the PHA may issue a special request to HUD for an extension not later than Sept. 6, 2022.

Housing agencies should expect CARES Act closeout statements after they have submitted the required form.

The full notice may be found here.

Administration Announces Housing Supply Action Plan

On May 16, the administration announced a housing supply action plan that is intended to “ease the burden of housing costs over time, by boosting the supply of quality housing in every community.” The plan includes both legislative and administrative actions and is meant to align with other policies currently in effect (e.g., federal rental assistance) to create more affordable rents and make homeownership more affordable.

While the plan includes many specific actions, many of those actions can be grouped into the following categories.

  • Incentivizing jurisdictions to reform their zoning and land-use policies by giving higher scores to jurisdictions that do this in federal grant allocations.
  • Implementing new financing mechanisms to build and preserve housing, including manufactured housing; accessory dwelling units; two to four unit properties; and other multifamily buildings.
  • Improving existing federal financing for development and preservation, which includes making construction to permanent loans more available; promoting the use of COVID recovery funds for affordable housing; reforming the low-income housing tax credit and the HOME program.
  • Ensuring that more housing goes to owners that live in the units or non-profits that will rehabilitate them.
  • Addressing supply chain issues by working with the private sector.

The White House’s full announcement of their housing supply action plan can be found here.

HUD Publishes CARES Act Waiver Reporting Tool Dashboard

HUD has published their CARES Act Waiver Reporting Tool (CAWRT; pronounced “cart”) dashboard. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This act gave HUD the authority to offer PHAs the option to waive certain statutory and regulatory requirements. In late 2021, HUD requested that all PHAs fill out a survey on which, if any, waivers they used. The Department took that information and created a publicly accessible dashboard on which PHAs used waivers and which waivers they used.

The CAWRT dashboard can be found here.

HUD Publishes Expedited Waiver Notice for Public Housing and Voucher Programs

On Dec. 9, HUD published a notice titled “Expedited Regulatory Waivers for the Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher (including Mainstream and Mod Rehab) Programs” (Notice PIH 2021-34). This notice provides information on flexibilities that HUD will continue to provide for the public housing and Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) programs, even though most regulatory and statutory waivers related to the COVID-19 pandemic will expire at the end of the year. The COVID-19 waivers for the public housing and voucher programs were published because of authority given to HUD through the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Additional information on the expiration of these waivers can be found in HUD’s guidance for winding down CARES Act waivers; PIH 2021-14 (providing revised waivers for public housing and the HCV program); PIH 2020-20 (providing waivers for the Mod. Rehab. program); and PIH 2020-22 (providing waivers for Mainstream vouchers).

This notice divides the additional potential flexibilities into three categories. First, there are flexibilities that will continue with no waivers needed. Second, there are regulatory waivers that PHAs may request and which HUD will review through a streamlined process. Third, there are additional regulatory waivers which PHAs may request, but which HUD will review through its normal waiver review process. None of the statutory waivers provided through CARES Act authority will be extended. In general, HUD lacks the authority to waive statutory program requirements, so PHAs should not request waivers for statutory requirements.

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HUD Requires PHAs to Submit CARES Act Waiver Information by Dec. 20, 2021

On Dec. 6, HUD published a notice titled “Submitting CARES Act Waiver Adoption Information to HUD by December 20, 2021” (PIH 2021-33). This notice requires all PHAs–including those that did not adopt any CARES Act waivers and those that are Moving to Work (MTW) agencies–to report on the waivers that they did or did not implement in the CARES Act Waiver Reporting Tool (CAWRT).

The CARES Act, passed on March 27, 2020, provided HUD with the authority to waive certain statutes and regulations for the public housing and the housing choice voucher (HCV) programs as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department exercised its authority to issue waivers through multiple notices, including PIH 2021-14 (providing revised waivers for public housing and the HCV program), PIH 2020-20 (providing waivers for the Mod. Rehab. program), and PIH 2020-22 (providing waivers for Mainstream vouchers). Additionally, HUD has provided guidance for winding down the waivers as they near their end of life.

Housing agencies must now report to HUD the waivers that they adopted. In adopting CARES Act waivers, HUD required PHAs to record which waivers the PHA had adopted. Agencies should have made this document available to the public. The Department also provided a suggested format for recording adopted waivers in the form of Attachment I of PIH Notice 2021-14. HUD requires one response from each PHA code. Agencies participating in the MTW program should only indicate adoption of the waivers that were adopted through CARES Act authority.

This reporting requirement must be met by Dec. 20, 2021.

Step-by-step instructions to complete this reporting requirement can be found here.

Housing agencies can access the CARES Act Waiver Reporting Tool here.

HUD Publishes CARES Act Waiver Wind Down Guidance

Late this afternoon, HUD published additional guidance instructing PHAs on how to wind down CARES Act waivers. According to HUD, the guidance “outline[s] planning considerations available to PHAs as they evaluate how to effectively and efficiently navigate the CARES Act Waivers expiration.” The Department did not publish additional guidance documents on waivers that were already expired or where HUD felt it unnecessary. There will be future guidance on both the Section Eight Management Assessment Program (SEMAP) and the Public Housing Assessment System (PHAS).

There are guidance documents for the following program areas:

  • Verification – this document provides guidance on verification documents on income, citizenship, social security numbers, and proof of family composition. Information in it is applicable to public housing, housing choice vouchers (HCVs), and mod. rehab. programs.
  • Inspections – this document provides information inspection-related waivers. Information in it is applicable to public housing, HCVs, and mod. rehab. programs.
  • Occupancy Policies – this document provides guidance on waivers that allowed families to remain in their units during the pandemic. Information in it is applicable to public housing and HCVs.
  • Project-based and Enhanced Voucher Provisions on Under-Occupied Units – this document provides information on waivers that enabled homeless families to enter into lease agreements for under-occupied project-based voucher (PBV) units. Information in it applies to PBVs, the rental assistance demonstration (RAD) program, and enhanced voucher programs.
  • Capital Programs – this document provides information on waivers related to capital program operations during the pandemic and certain additional waivers. It is applicable to the public housing program.
  • Uniform Financial Reporting Standards – this document provides information on how PHAs submit their financial statements.
  • Community Service and Self-Sufficiency Requirements (CSSR) – this document provides information about the requirement that public housing residents participate in community service or an economic self-sufficiency program and is applicable to public housing.

Links to all of this guidance along with a table with updated waiver expiration dates can be found here.

NAHRO members will receive additional information on these guidance documents in the coming days.

HUD Publishes EHV Dashboard

HUD has published its Emergency Housing Voucher (EHV) dashboard. The dashboard provides information about EHV leasing, issuances, unit utilization, voucher awards, and funding at both the national and the state level. The dashboard also provides information by individual PHA. Since PHAs have only started their EHV programs this summer, the program remains in its initial stages.

The EHV dashboard can be found here.

OSHA Releases Vaccine and Testing Mandate for Large Employers

On Nov. 4, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released its vaccine mandate for businesses with 100 or more employees. It is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register tomorrow, Nov. 5, and will take effect immediately. Covered employers have 30-days (by approximately Dec. 5) to become compliant and implement a vaccine and mask mandate and unvaccinated employees must be in compliance with weekly testing requirements within 60-days (by approximately Jan. 4).

A pre-publication copy of the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) on COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing can be found here. The majority of the ETS provides background, justification, description; and the last section lists the regulatory updates and additions. While the full document is 490 pages, the regulation itself is much shorter and can be found on page 473.

The purpose of the ETS is to protect unvaccinated employees of large employers from the risk of contracting COVID-19 by strongly encouraging vaccination. Covered employers must develop, implement, and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, with an exception for employers that adopt a policy requiring employees to either get vaccinated or elect to undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work in lieu of vaccination.

Unvaccinated employees would need to wear a mask indoors or in vehicles with employees at all times except when alone in a room with floor to ceiling walls or windows and a closed door. There is no mask requirement for vaccinated employees.

At this time the ETS only applies to employers of 100 or more employees, however OSHA is continuing to discuss whether or not this should apply to smaller employers.

NAHRO will continue to follow OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard on COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing, and will share additional information as it becomes available.