New, Updated Emergency Rental Assistance Guidance Issued

The U.S. Department of Treasury (Treasury) has released new and updated frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) that was created by the December 27, 2020 omnibus appropriations act. These new February 22, 2021 dated FAQs replace in their entirety the previously issued January 19, 2021 FAQs.

NAHRO commends Treasury for the new FAQs, as they provide much-needed clear and reasonable guidance on the ERAP. NAHRO has been in contact with Treasury on numerous occasions to ensure that PHAs and their residents are served by the ERAP. On January 25, 2021, NAHRO sent a letter to the Treasury and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development outlining our concerns with the January 19, 2021 FAQs, and the new FAQs address many of NAHRO’s concerns. These new FAQs are a major step forward for PHAs in meeting their COVID-19 housing needs of HUD-assisted residents.  

Below are a number of the key guidance points provided by the February 22, 2021 FAQs:

  • Federally assisted tenants (Public Housing, Housing Choice Voucher, & Project-Based Rental Assistance) are eligible for ERAP assistance for the tenant-owed portion of rent and utilities that are not subsidized. 
  • Tenants may document their financial hardship due to COVID-19 (unemployment benefits, reduction of income, significant costs, or other COVID-19 financial hardship) by written attestation signed by the tenant that one or more household members meet this eligibility criteria. 
  • Tenant household income is defined by using either HUD’s “annual income” definition in 24 CFR 5.609 or adjusted gross income reported on an Internal Revenue Service Form 1040 series. 
  • “Other expenses related to housing” examples are provided. The examples include but are not limited to: 
    • relocation expenses and rental fees (if a household has been temporarily or permanently displaced due to the COVID-19 outbreak);  
    • reasonable accrued late fees (if not included in rental or utility arrears and if incurred due to COVID-19); and  
    • Internet service provided to the rental unit. 
  • Outreach to landlords and utility providers must be done before providing the funds directly to the tenant. Outreach can be done using the following methods: 
    • a request for participation is sent in writing, by mail, to the landlord or utility provider, and the addressee does not respond to the request within 14 calendar days after mailing;  
    • the grantee has made at least three attempts by phone, text, or e-mail over a 10 calendar-day period to request the landlord or utility provider’s participation; or 
    • a landlord confirms in writing that the landlord does not wish to participate. 
  • PHAs, non-profit organizations, and local governments may operate ERAP programs through contractor, subrecipient, or intergovernmental cooperation agreements with the primary grantee at the state or local jurisdiction level. These agreements must meet monitoring and management requirements of 2 CFR 200.331-200.333 and procurement standards of 2 CFR 200.317-200.327. 

These are just a few of the answers in the new FAQs. The full FAQs are available on the NAHRO website’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program page. The Emergency Rental Assistance Program, including these FAQs, will be a focus of the 2021 NAHRO Online Washington Conference’s Treasury Affordable Housing Program and Washington Report sessions on March 2, 2021. Click here to register for the 2021 NAHRO Online Washington Conference

NAHRO & NLC Webinar on Eviction Prevention and Emergency Rental Assistance Program – Feb 18 @ 12:30pm ET

NAHRO and the National League of Cities are teaming up to bring their members critical information on eviction prevention strategies and the Treasury Department’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). The complimentary webinar will take place on Thursday, Feb. 18 at 12:30 pm ET. Registration information can be found here.

The webinar will also discuss the upcoming reconciliation process the new COVID-19 relief package will take through Congress, as well as an overview of eviction prevention strategies cities and community partners are implementing in the midst of COVID-19, and highlights of resources to prevent housing instability.

Information on ERAP is changing rapidly, and it is important for PHAs that want to partner with their State and/or local jurisdiction to be up to date. Join the NAHRO and NLC teams to hear the latest information on ERAP, including information on family eligibility and eligible use, along with an update on how the new administration plans on implementing the program. We will also be joined by a PHA that will share how their housing authority has partnered with the local jurisdiction to provide local emergency rental assistance.

The NARHO and NLC teams look forward to sharing this important information! Register Now for the important webinar.

$20 million NOFA for Competitive FUP Vouchers Published

Yesterday, HUD released a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for $20 million of competitive funding for Family Unification Program (FUP) vouchers. These vouchers are for youth aging out of foster care. The appropriations acts of 2020 and 2021 each contained $10 million in competitive FUP funding for youths aging out of foster care. This notice would distribute the competitive FUP allocations for youth aging out of foster care for both of those years. The Department expects to make approximately 40 awards from the funds. No award will be for less than 3 vouchers, while the maximum award will vary depending on the size of the PHA’s program (25 vouchers for programs with fewer than 500 vouchers; 50 vouchers for programs between and including 500 and 1.999 vouchers; and 75 vouchers for programs with 2,000 or more vouchers). The application deadline is March 22, 2021.

The full NOFA can be found here.

CARES Act Admin Fee Eligible Uses Revised

On Dec. 10, HUD revised the list of eligible activities for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Administrative Fee Funds for the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program. Congress allocated $1.25 billion in administrative fees to HUD to disburse to PHAs. The administrative fees were transferred by HUD to PHAs in two disbursements. The first disbursement occurred in May, while the second occurred in July.

The new coronavirus-related uses of the CARES Act HCV administrative fee are the following:

  • Relocation of PHA staff and participating families to health units or other designated units for vaccination.
  • Hiring of temporary employees to maintain program operations due to coronavirus.
  • Costs related to office improvements, including improved systems for teleworking and/or rental of additional space, to ensure social distancing and other CDC recommended measures.
  • One-time utility deposits to assist families in securing units.

The uses listed above are in addition to regular administrative fee uses and the older coronavirus-related uses HUD had already authorized.

The updated list of eligible uses of CARES Act HCV administrative fees can be found here.

HUD Extends Deadline to Apply for CARES Act HAP Funding

In an email sent earlier today, HUD extended the deadline to apply for receiving CARES Act HAP Funding for the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program for significant increases in per unit cost (PUC) due to extraordinary circumstances. The deadline has been extended to March 31, 2021 or until all funds have been depleted (currently, $50 million remain).

Instructions on how to apply for this funding can be found in PIH 2020-17 (amended to include the new deadline) or NAHRO’s previous blog post.

HUD Creates New Energy Savings Program for Small, Rural PHAs

On October 23, HUD published a notice titled “Implementation of Section 209(b) of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (Economic Growth Act)” (PIH 2020-30). This notice implements an energy savings program for small, rural PHAs that was created by the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (Economic Growth Act). The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials submitted comments on implementing section 209(b). Our comments stated that this program should be distinct from Energy Performance Contracting, that the program should be easy to apply to and to administer, and that PHAs should have flexibility in how they use the savings. We are pleased that HUD closely followed many of NAHRO’s suggestions. The program—called the Small Rural Frozen Rolling Base (SR-FRB)–would allow eligible PHAs to freeze the cost of their energy consumption levels, improve their energy efficiency, and use any cost savings for any eligible public housing purpose at the PHA’s discretion. This program differs from Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) in that it is much easier to apply to and administer.

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New Foster Youth to Independence Initiative Notice

Earlier today, HUD published a notice titled “Foster Youth to Independence Initiative” (PIH 2020-28). This notice discusses how any PHA which meets certain eligibility requirements (including those agencies that already have a Family Unification Program) may apply for additional Family Unification Program vouchers for youth aging out of foster care. This supply of vouchers is funded through a $10 million set-aside in the 2020 appropriations act.

NAHRO members will receive additional information on this notice.

The full notice may be found here.

Voucher Programs with Higher Per Unit Costs (PUC) Can Apply for Additional HAP

Earlier this summer, HUD published a notice titled “CARES Act – Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) Supplemental Funding” (PIH Notice 2020-17). This notice allows for PHAs to apply for additional CARES Act funding for significant increases in per unit cost (PUC) due to extraordinary circumstances. Applications for this funding must be submitted by October 31, 2020.

If a PHA has previously submitted applications for calendar year (CY) 2020 HAP renewal set-aside funding under the “Unforeseen Circumstances” category due to PUC increases caused by COVID-19, the PHA must resubmit according to instructions in this new notice. For those who submitted under the “Unforeseen Circumstances” category for other reasons, they are not required to resubmit, but may do so if their PUC has further increased because of COVID-19.

Public Housing Agencies must meet certain requirements to access this funding. First, applications must be submitted by Oct. 31, 2020. Applications will be reviewed by HUD on a rolling basis. Second, to be eligible, a PHA must have a PUC that is 102 percent or greater than the PUC HUD used to determine the PHA’s CY 2020 renewal funding. The PHA must also meet the submission requirements detailed in the notice.

The PHA will also receive a priority status. If the PHA’s HAP reserves contain an amount that is less than the amount needed to cover 3 months of HAP expenses, the PHA will qualify for priority status. Public housing agencies qualifying for priority status will receive funding shortly after their application is processed, subject to funding availability. Those agencies that receive regular priority will receive notification that their application has been approved, but funding will not be made until November.

Group Complete ApplicationPUC > than 102%HAP Reserve < 3 months
PriorityEligible for Immediate fundingYesYesYes
RegularTo be funded in Nov. 2020YesYesNo
IneligibleIneligible for FundingNoNoN/A

To be eligible for funding, a PHA must submit a completed Appendix B in the notice to 2020COVIDHCV@hud.gov.

These funds may not be rolled into restricted net position (RNP) and must be tracked and accounted for separately through the period of availability.

HUD PIH to Hold Call on CARES Act Reporting Requirements and CDC Eviction Notice Declaration

In an email sent earlier today, HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) announced that it will hold a call to discuss CARES Act reporting requirements and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) eviction notice order. The call will occur at 2 pm ET on Sept. 15, 2020. Information on the call can be found below.

Step 1: Dial into the conference.
Dial-in: 888-251-2949 or 215-861-0694
Access Code: 3278449##
Need an international dial-in number?
If the automated recording indicates the conference is full, please use overflow information:
Dial in: 888-251-2949 or 215-861-0694
Access Code: 5358782#

Step 2: Join the conference on your computer.
Entry Link: https://ems8.intellor.com/login/832237

A calendar invitation can be found here.