2019 FUP NOFA Released

10/25/2019 edit – correct application due date added.

The Department has released the 2019 Family Unification Program Notice of Funding Availability (i.e., the 2019 FUP NOFA). The NOFA makes available $20 million in funding. Applications are due by December 17, 2019. The Department expects to make approximately 40 awards from this NOFA.

The Family Unification Program serves two categories of people. The first is families for whom the lack of adequate housing is a primary factor in the imminent placement of the family’s child in out-of-home care or the delay in the discharge of the child to the family in out-of-home care. The second category is composed of youth at least 18 years and not more than 24 years of age who left foster care (or will leave foster care within 90 days) and are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless at age 16 or older.

In addition to meeting certain threshold criteria, HUD will be using rating factors in deciding how to allocate FUP funding. In making its decisions, HUD will also look at a PHA’s past performance in managing funds and assess a PHA’s risk (e.g., financial stability, quality of management, history of performance, etc.). Additionally, the Department will look at the following seven rating factors:

  1. Housing search assistance in low-poverty census tracts (16 points) – Points awarded if the PHA, Public Child Welfare Agency (PWCA), or Continuum of Care (CoC) provides, funds, or makes available housing search assistance in low-poverty census tracts;
  2. Financial Assistance (18 points) – Points awarded if the PHA, PCWA, or CoC provide, fund, or otherwise makes available financial assistance to assist FUP-eligible families and youths;
  3. Previous Coordination (6 points) – Points awarded if the PHA or the PCWA can demonstrate recent cross-program coordination with a local CoC;
  4. Post-move counseling (14 points) – Points awarded if the PHA, PCWA, or CoC provides funds, or otherwise makes available post-move counseling to FUP-eligible families or FUP-eligible youth;
  5. Case management to FUP families (16 points) – Points awarded if case management to FUP families will be made available after they have been issued a voucher. These families may not be forced to participate in these services;
  6. Self-sufficiency Programs (12 points) – Points awarded if the PHA administers the HUD Family Self-Sufficiency program, or similar program promoting self-sufficiency, that is active at the time of application; and
  7. Supportive Assistance for Youth to 36 months (18 points) – Points awarded if the services required to be provided to FUP-eligible youth as identified in the Memorandum of Understanding will be provided beyond 18 months.

The Frequently Asked Questions document on the NOFA can be found here.

The 2019 FUP NOFA can be found here.

HUD Updates HCV Two-Year Projection Tool with 2020 Estimated Inflation Factors for PHAs

I received word from a HUD official that the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Two-Year Tool has been updated with estimated PHA-specific inflation factors. The Two-Year Tool allows those folks managing voucher programs to “analyze a PHA’s utilization situation which includes running basic leasing and spending scenarios to better inform decisions . . . to optimize the program over a multi-year period.” After each yearly funding cycle, HUD applies an inflation factor to the amount spent on vouchers in the previous year to arrive at the PHA’s renewal funding for the upcoming year. This inflation factor is specific to the PHA. The Two-Year Tool has now incorporated estimates of each PHA’s inflation factor to assist in planning for the upcoming year.

The Two-Year Tool can be found here.

Money Available for Carbon Monoxide Detectors

The Department of Housing and Urban Development sent an email to Executive Directors reminding them that $5 million is available for PHAs for the purchase, installation, replacement, and repair of carbon monoxide detectors. Applications for this funding are due by 5 pm ET on Friday, October 25, 2019.

Additional information can be found here.

New Resources for Foster Youth to Independence Initiative

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD or the Department) has posted several new resources for its foster youth to independence initiative (See Notice PIH 2019-20). The initiative allows for PHAs without a Family Unification Program to request tenant protection vouchers (TPVs) for youth aging out of foster care on an as-needed basis. The Department has posted several resources related to the initiative.

 

These resources include the following:

All of these resources can also be found on HUD’s Foster Youth to Independence website here.

FY 2020 FMRs Published

Tomorrow, HUD will publish the Fair Market Rents (FMRs) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 on its website. A pre-publication copy of the notice was published today in the Federal Register–titled “Fair Market Rents for the Housing Choice Voucher Program, Moderate Rehabilitation Single Room Occupancy Program, and Other Programs Fiscal Year 2020.” These FMRs will become effective on October 1, 2019. Comments for these FMRs (or requests for reevaluation for specific FMRs) are due within 30 days of their official publication.

Click below to read more.

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HUD Updates VMS Quick Reference Guide and VMS User’s Manual

Earlier today, the Financial Management Center at HUD sent an email stating that it has updated the Voucher Management System (VMS) Quick Reference Guide and the VMS User’s Manual. The updated text has been highlighted in green, so that it is easy to find within each document.

According to the email, the changes “provide clarification about the specific reporting requirements related to RAD, VASH and Mainstream programs.” Additionally, the following definitional fields have been updated (list taken from the email):

  • All HAP Expense data – the change is located in the narrative found immediately before the Field Definitions;
  • All Voucher HAP Expenses After the First of the Month;
  • Rental Assistance Component 1 (HAP);
  • Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HAP);
  • All Voucher HAP Expenses for Contracts Effective After the First of the Month;
  • 5-Year Mainstream – this change is located in the narrative found immediately before the Field Definitions;
  • 5-Year Mainstream HAP;
  • Number of PBVs Under HAP and Not Leased with Vacancy Payment and Associated Vacancy HAP Expense; and
  • Number of PBVs Under HAP and Not Leased.

The updated VMS Quick Reference Guide can be found here.

The updated VMS User’s Manual can be found here.

Mainstream Voucher FY 2019 NOFA FAQ Updated

Yesterday, HUD updated its Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document on the fiscal year (FY) 2019 Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for mainstream vouchers.

The FY 2019 NOFA would make an additional $150 million available for mainstream vouchers (a previous NOFA allocated $98 million). The application deadline for this additional round of funding is September 5, 2019.

The updated FAQ can be found here.

The Department’s Mainstream Voucher page can be found here.

[Edit: Some of the links above were corrected to point to the correct documents or websites and the correct deadline has been added.]

Complimentary Webinar!! Fair Market Rent Appeals – August 27, 2pm EDT

On Tuesday, August 27, at 2pm eastern time, NAHRO will be hosting a complimentary webinar in preparation for the release of the 2020 Fair Market Rents and the appeal process. 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 process, the options and first-hand PHA experiences.

Using Research Surveys to Raise Your FMR

Do the Fair Market Rents (FMRs) in your area match on-the-ground rental prices that your voucher applicants encounter? If they do not, then this webinar will show you how to increase your FMRs. You will learn about two methods to conduct research surveys. This research survey data can be submitted to HUD to show that on-the-ground rental prices exceed the FMR, allowing HUD to increase the FMR to match the actual rental prices in your area. Bring your questions and comments and prepare your PHA for the 2020 FMRs to be released in a few weeks!

Please register for Using Research Surveys to Raise Your FMR on Aug 27, 2019 2:00 PM EDT at:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/773057130839951117?source=blog

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

Chetty Study Offers Guide to Move Families to High-Upward-Mobility Areas

Opportunity Insights–a Harvard-based group of researchers and policy analysts, including economist Raj Chetty, who analyze data to help stakeholders make more informed policy decisions–has published a paper titled “Creating Moves to Opportunity: Experimental Evidence on Barriers to Neighborhood Choice.” The researchers, working in cooperation with the Seattle Housing Authority and King County Housing Authority, found that when families received the Creating Moves to Opportunity treatment (the treatment consisted of customized search assistance, landlord engagement, and short-term financial assistance), the fraction of families who moved to high-upward-mobility areas increased by forty percent between a control group and a treatment group.

Findings

The researchers found several insights during the course of their work. First, they found that in the Seattle area, Creating Moves to Opportunity (CMTO) interventions increased the fraction of families who moved to high-upward-mobility areas by forty percent between a control group and a treatment group. The researchers also found that utilization rates among groups remained the same (i.e., those families that chose to move to high-upward-mobility areas were able to use their vouchers at the same rate as the control group); all families across racial and ethnic groups benefited from the treatment; and families in opportunity areas were more satisfied with their new neighborhoods. The researchers also found that the customized manner of providing services according to each family’s need was crucial. Finally, the researchers found that other policy interventions such as higher payment standards (e.g., Small Area Fair Market Rents [SAFMR]) by themselves or providing additional rental information in a standardized manner were not effective. Indeed, on page 38 of the study, the researchers write “[o]ur analysis . . . shows that raising payment standards in more expensive neighborhoods —  as is typically done in SAFMR policies — does not necessarily induce families to move to higher-opportunity areas.”

Services Offered

The CMTO services consisted of three prongs (see pages 12 and 13 of the study):

  1. Search Assistance (page 12);
    1. Information about high-opportunity areas and the benefits of moving to such areas for families with young children;
    2. Help in making rental applications more competitive by preparing rental documents and addressing issues in credit and rental history; and
    3. Search assistance to help families identify available units, connect with landlords in opportunity areas, and complete the application process;
  2. Increased Landlord Engagement (page 13);
    1. Explaining to landlords in high-opportunity areas the program and encouraging them to lease their units;
    2. Damage mitigation fund to cover possible damages to a unit not included in the security deposit (up to $2,000);
    3. Expedited lease-up process for landlords through fast inspections and streamlined paperwork;
  3. Short-term Financial Assistance (page 13);
    1. Funds for application screening fees, security deposits, and other expenses that stood in the way of lease-up;
    2. Payments were customized by staff to address the specific impediments a family faced; and
    3. On average families received $1,070 for these payments.

The researchers stressed that these services were tailored to meet the needs of individual families.

Defining Opportunity Areas

Opportunity areas were defined using Census tracts that have upward mobility in approximately the top third of the distribution across tracts within Seattle and King County. The definitions were adjusted to provide for contiguous areas and to take into account changes in neighborhoods. They were defined using data from the Opportunity Atlas.

Slides on the study can be found here.

A non-technical summary can be found here.

The full study can be found here.

 

New Notice allows PHAs to use Tenant Protection Vouchers for Youth Aging out of Foster Care

In late July, HUD published a notice titled “Tenant Protection Vouchers for Foster Youth to Independence Initiative” [PIH 2019-20 (HA)]. This notice would allow PHAs that do not have a Family Unification Program (FUP), but that have a Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program, to request a tenant protection voucher to house a FUP-eligible youth.

Public Housing Agencies must receive a referral from a partnering Public Child Welfare Agency (PCWA) to request the tenant protection voucher. While not required, HUD strongly encourages participation of a Continuum of Care (CoC). Requests may be as small as one voucher up to 25 vouchers per PHA for a fiscal year. The funding for this initiative is not from the Family Unification Program account, but from the tenant protection voucher account and is subject to the availability of funding in that account. These vouchers sunset after being used and are not to be project-based.

  • PHA Eligibility Requirements:
    • PHA must have an HCV Program;
    • PHA must not administer the Family Unification Program (FUP);
    • PHA must amend its administrative plan;
    • PHA must accept FUP-eligible youth;
      • FUP-eligible youth: Youth that have met the following criteria:
        • Attained at least 18 years of age and not more than 24 years of age;
        • Left foster care, or will leave foster care, within 90 days; and
        • Are homeless or are at risk of being homeless;
    • PHA must determine eligibility;
    • PHA must have a partnership with a Public Child Welfare Agency (PCWA);
      • PCWA Roles and Responsibilities:
        • Must identify FUP-eligible youth;
        • Must have a system of prioritization;
        • Must provide written certification to PHA that youth is FUP-eligible; and
        • Must provide supportive services, including:
          • Basic life skills information (money management; meal preparation; and access to health care, etc.);
          • Counseling on compliance with rental lease requirements of the HCV program;
          • Providing reasonable assurances to rental property owners;
          • Job counseling; and
          • Educational and career advancement counseling;
      • PCWA Partnership Agreement (May take the form of a memorandum of understanding or letters of intent):
        • Must define FUP-eligible youth;
        • Must list supportive services and provide them for 36 months;
        • Must address PHA responsibilities;
        • Must address PCWA responsibilities; and
        • Must address Continuum of Care–if involved–responsibilities, including:
          • Integrating the referral process into the CoC’s coordinated entry process;
          • Identifying services; and
          • Making referrals of FUP-eligible youth to PCWAs.

The full notice may be found here.