HUD Updates Shutdown Reserve Guidance for MTW Agencies

Earlier today, a HUD official sent an email to Executive Directors at MTW agencies providing additional guidance on when it is appropriate for MTW agencies to access HUD-held reserves. The guidance is reproduced below.

Dear Executive Director,

The letter sent to your PHA dated January 15th regarding access to the HHR and setting out criteria for requesting HHR applies to MTW and non-MTW PHAs.  During a lapse in appropriations, HUD staff is only permitted to work on certain activities, including activities that address threats to human lives and properties.  As an MTW PHA, if you believe you need access to the HHR to address immediate threats to the health and safety of tenants or the preservation of property beyond those in the January 15th letter, please submit the amount, a justification for the amount, the intended programmatic use (e.g., public housing, low-income housing), and the timing of expenditure to Robert Boepple at robert.h.boepple@hud.gov.

HUD Publishes Guidance on Accessing HCV HAP HUD-Held Reserves During Shutdown

Earlier today, HUD sent an email to Executive Directors informing them that those PHAs administering Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) programs may access their HUD-held Housing Assistance Payment Reserves (HHR) under certain circumstances. In those instances where scheduled payments (for January and February) are not sufficient to meet a program’s Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) need, PHAs may access their reserves.

Specifically, in situations where a failure to act “would result in an imminent threat to the safety of human life or the protection of property,” PHAs may request their HAP reserves from HUD in the following instances:

  1. To protect families that are at imminent risk of termination; or
  2. PHAs that were eligible to receive a payment for January 2019 and did not receive it (e.g., first time Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) payment) and need reserves to ensure that the property owner(s) receives a HAP payment to continue assistance and protect the residents at the property.

These funds may only be used for HAP funding. To request the additional payment, please contact Robert.H.Boepple@hud.gov.  The request should include the following:

  1. amount of the payment;
  2. supporting monthly leasing projections;
  3. point of contact email address;
  4. point of contact phone number; and
  5. cost saving measures that PHAs have taken to decrease the likelihood of a shortfall (see PIH Notice 2011-28).

Housing authorities should also review PIH Notice 2013-28 titled “Guidance on the Use of Outside Sources of Funds in the HCV Program.”

HUD’s email guidance can be found here.

 

HUD Funds Available for February, But Not for March

NAHRO has learned that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has enough money to ensure that February payments for the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program and the public housing Operating Fund will be made available to public housing authorities (PHAs). HUD intends to make those payments on time. NAHRO has also learned that there is not currently enough money to make HCV and Operating Fund payments for March, if the government shutdown continues until then.

In order to end the government shutdown, Congress must agree to a funding bill. Now is the time to reach out to your Congresspeople and demand that a fiscal year 2019 appropriations bill for HUD is passed. NAHRO has prepared a letter that can be sent to your Congressional members through the NAHRO Advocacy Action Center.

As PHAs make their voices heard to Congress, NAHRO will continue to fight for you and the families you serve and will continue to inform members as soon as we learn more.

HUD Announces Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposure

Yesterday, in a press release, the administration announced a join action plan by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to reduce childhood lead exposure and associated health impacts. Secretary Carson has stated that “[i]mplementing this plan will help federal agencies, along with our state and local partners, advance efforts to remediate home health hazards and keep children safe from lead poisoning.”

The plan has four goals:

  1. Reduce children’s exposure to lead sources;
  2. Identify lead-exposed children and improve their health outcomes;
  3. Communicate more effectively with stakeholders; and
  4. Support and conduct critical research to inform efforts to reduce lead exposure and related health risks.

The plan notes that while it “is not a budget document and does not imply approval for any specific action . . . [i]t will inform future federal budget and regulatory development processes within the context of the goals articulated in the President’s Budget.”

The full press release can be found here.

The action plan can be found here.

HUD Broadcasts Webinar on MTW Cohort #1

Earlier today, HUD broadcast a webinar on the Moving to Work (MTW) Expansion Cohort #1. The webinar explained what MTW was, explained the benefits of an MTW designation, provided presentations from current MTW agencies, and discussed the process by which agencies could apply for Cohort #1. Additionally, questions from webinar participants were answered.

The webinar also gave the following timeline for MTW Expansion activities:

  • Spring 2019 – Revise MTW Operations Notice based on public comment and publish final MTW Operations Notice;
  • Summer / Fall 2019 – Designate the initial cohort of MTW agencies; invite the second cohort of agencies to apply;
  • Winter 2020 – Designate the second cohort of MTW agencies.

The full webinar with audio and the slide presentation will eventually be posted on HUD’s MTW Expansion site, but an unofficial copy of the slides from the webinar can immediately be found here.

HCV Two-Year Tool Updates!

A HUD official emailed me to announce certain updates to the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCV) two-year tool. The updates include the following:

  • The two-year tool is now publicly available and accessible by anyone;
  • A series of training videos has been created and is publicly available; and
  • The two-year tool now shows draft inflation factors for the next year to help program managers plan for the next year (depending on the housing market the PHA is located in, this may be a large number).

The two year tool and the training videos can be accessed here.

Have a little spare time this holiday season? Check out HUD’s two-year tool training videos! The table listing the links to the videos is reproduced below. Click below to access it.

Continue reading

HUD Awards $4.6 Million in HUD-VASH Funding

In a press release published earlier today, HUD announced a second round of HUD-VASH vouchers being funded. The Department will be providing $4.6 million, in the form of 424 vouchers, to housing authorities around the country to help homeless veterans find permanent homes. Secretary Carson said that “[t]he additional HUD-VASH vouchers awarded today will continue to support the important work of communities across the country that ensures our veterans have a safe and stable place to call home.”

The list of agencies receiving this latest round of funding can be found here.

NAHRO Comments on DHS Public Charge Proposed Rule

The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials opposes the proposed rule due to its negative impact on immigrant families and the additional negative consequence of inefficient use of limited social service funds. NAHRO requested that the proposed rule be withdrawn as written and the current public charge guidance remain in effect.

On December 10, NAHRO submitted comments on the Department of Homeland Security’s proposed rule titled “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds.”

The proposed rule makes significant changes and additions to the current public charge guidance. The proposed new definition of “public charge” is “that a person should be considered a public charge based on the receipt of financial support from the general public through government funding (i.e., public benefits).”In order to use this definition of “public charge,” “public benefit” must be defined and the proposed rule provides a definition that vastly and inappropriately expands the programs that are to be considered. The proposed rule defines public benefit as a list of cash aid and noncash medical care, housing, and food benefit programs. The list of benefits includes the current cash assistance and institutionalization benefit and further expands the benefits to include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps), the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCV), Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA), Medicaid, and Public Housing.

NAHRO made two primary arguments in opposition to the proposed rule – very few noncitizens use housing benefits and the proposed rule causes unnecessary confusion while an inefficient use of resources.

DHS acknowledges in the proposed regulation that noncitizen participation in the Public Housing, Housing Choice Voucher, and Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance programs is “relatively low.” Congress, via statute, and HUD, via regulation, have already protected federal dollars from being used on non-eligible noncitizens and there is no fiscally responsible reason for DHS to further step into this arena.

The proposed rule, despite having few benefits for its expected cost, has caused considerable confusion and angst among current and potential residents of HUD’s housing programs. Current residents have left housing programs because of a fear of being separated from their family because of the proposed rule. Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) around the country are attempting to combat the confusion of this public charge proposed rule. Many PHAs are reaching out to their current residents and local communities to explain the proposed rule and how it applies to the HUD housing programs. The resources needed to explain the public charge proposed rule and any future final rule would be much better spent on providing housing and resident services to U.S. citizens and eligible noncitizens.

The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials opposes the proposed rule due to its negative impact on immigrant families and the additional negative consequence of inefficient use of limited social service funds. NAHRO requested that the proposed rule be withdrawn as written and the current public charge guidance remain in effect.

NARHO’s full comments can be viewed here.

HUD Awards $30 million in FUP Vouchers

Last week, HUD announced an award of $30 million to PHAs nationwide for Family Unification Program (FUP) vouchers. Family Unification Program vouchers are for youth at risk of homelessness and families whose lack of adequate housing is the primary reason for their children being in foster care.

This funding will provide for 3,000 vouchers. Secretary Carson stated that “HUD is committed to helping parents and caregivers obtain safe and affordable housing for their families . . . [t]his investment will allow thousands of children to leave the foster care system and live with their families so they have the opportunity to thrive together.”

A list of the FUP voucher allocations can be found here.

Special Admin Fees Available for Small Area FMR Implementation

Earlier today, the Housing Voucher Financial Management Division sent a notice via email reiterating that additional administrative fees are available for PHAs that are implementing Small Area Fair Market Rents (FMRs). Eligible activities include but are not limited to the following:

  • Outreach to families and landlords;
  • Development of additional briefing materials;
  • Hiring of additional staff;
  • Staff training;
  • Changing rent reasonableness methodology; and
  • Software modification.

Both PHAs that must mandatorily implement Small Area FMRs and PHAs that choose to voluntarily implement Small Area FMRs are eligible to apply. To apply, PHAs must submit the following:

  1. Letter addressed to Steven Durham, the Director of the Office of Housing Voucher Programs, requesting reimbursement of costs for adoption of Small Area FMRs;
  2. A board resolution confirming the adoption of Small Area FMRs;
  3. Supporting documentation showing expenses incurred or estimated;
  4. Narrative describing how the above expenses tie to Small Area FMR implementation; and
  5. Certification Signature of the Executive Director.

Electronic applications should be submitted no later than 3 pm ET on Friday, Dec. 31, 2018. Applications should be emailed to PIH.Financial.Management.Division@hud.gov. The subject line must include the PHA Code and the text “SAFMR – Special Fee Request.”

The full notice sent in the email can be found here.

[11/13/2018 3:20 pm ET edit – The link above has been revised to reflect that HUD sent another letter correcting a date in the attachment.]