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.

HUD Posts Mainstream Voucher FY 2019 NOFA Webinar

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has published a webinar on its fiscal year 2019 Mainstream Voucher application.

Additionally, the Department has made the following Mainstream Voucher application materials available:

All of these materials may also be found on HUD’s Mainstream Voucher Program page.

NAHRO Submits Comment Letters on Mixed-Immigration-Status rule and FMR Methodology

Mixed Immigration Status Proposed Rule

On July 5, NAHRO submitted comments on HUD’s proposed immigration rule. The proposed rule, if implemented, would terminate federal housing assistance for families with mixed-immigration-statuses.

The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials believes that the current verification of eligible status system should be left in place. The changes in the proposed rule would unnecessarily hurt families and children, including U.S. citizens, and add additional administrative burden, all without the commensurate benefits suggested in the proposal. The current subsidy proration policy decouples the size of the family from the federal benefit received. This policy has been in place for over two decades and providers of assisted housing, particularly those most impacted by this proposal that serve many mixed-status families, have not vocalized any hardships or desire to change the policy.

In its comment letter to HUD, NAHRO offers the following recommendations:

  1. Make no changes to the current eligible status verification regulations;
  2. If unwilling to follow the first recommendation, then restrict application of the new rule to new applicants of covered programs; and
  3. If unwilling to follow either of the first two recommendations, then take the steps and adopt the recommended language in NAHRO’s comment letter before implementing the proposed rule.

The Department will still be accepting comments until end of the day, July 9th. We encourage all of our members to submit comments in opposition to this rule. We also urge members to use their own language in writing comments, so that they are not automatically screened out before being read. Comments may be submitted here.

The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Official’s full comment letter can be found here.

FMR Methodology Changes

On July 5, NAHRO submitted comments on HUD’s proposed changes in how it calculates FMRs. The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Official’s comment letter can be found here.

Presenters Updated! Tomorrow!! Complimentary PH Unit Preservation Webinar – July 2, 1pm ET

LAST CHANCE TO REGISTER. NAHRO is hosting a complimentary Public Housing Unit Preservation Webinar tomorrow, Tuesday, July 2, at 1pm eastern time. Join Andy Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Nampa (ID) Housing Authority; Edward Mayer, Executive Director of the Housing Authority of the County of Butte (CA); and Georgi Banna, NAHRO’s Director of Policy and Program Development who will share and overview of the preservation options and will their experiences and decision making process in preserving their Public Housing units.

This session is for agencies of all sizes from the smallest to the largest and will discuss HUD’s outreach, the options and first-hand PHA experiences. Below is information on the session and the registration link.

Public Housing Preservation Options – The PHA Perspective

Has HUD reached out to your agency to discuss the future of your public housing? Join us for this complimentary session to review your options, and the NAHRO Policy team is here to provide more information and help sort through a lot of the chatter. Are you interested in joining the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), using the Section 18 Demolition/Disposition program, removing your Declaration of Trust, participating in a streamlined voluntary conversion process, or continuing in public housing? We’ll provide overviews of the options available to PHAs of all sizes and discuss HUD’s plans for the future. We will also be joined by Andy Rodriguez of the Nampa (ID) Housing Authority and Edward Mayer of the Housing Authority of the County of Butte (CA), who will share their experiences and decision making process in preserving their Public Housing.

Please register for Public Housing Preservation Options – The PHA Perspective on Jul 2, 2019 1:00 PM EDT at:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4425060811873671691?source=blog2

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