Celebrate Year 1 of the PH Smoke-Free Rule – Complimentary Webinar – July 18 @ 12:30pm ET

Join Clean Air For All, a joint effort between NAR-SAAH, NAHRO, and Live Smoke Free on Thursday, July 18 at 12:30pm eastern time, for a live discussion and Q&A on the “Instituting Smoke-Free Public Housing” final HUD rule. Participants will hear a brief update on the rule and will be able to submit questions to NAR-SAAH, NAHRO, and Live Smoke Free staff. Have your questions about the rule, cessation resources, and enforcement answered. These calls are intended for those working and living in affordable housing. Everyone is welcome to attend all of the calls and hear the various perspectives.

Registration for the webinar can be done at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6659582895810385675?source=NAHRO.

This month’s Connect Call is all about the anniversary of HUD’s smoke-free rule. We will discuss what is going well in smoke-free public housing and challenges PHAs face maintaining smoke-free policies. Participants will hear about ways to celebrate their PHA’s smoke-free policy, success stories, and how to find resources to improve compliance and enforcement.

At the end of the Connect Call, Clean Air for All will raffle off a Smoke-Free Public Housing Party in a Box to one lucky participant. The box contains everything a PHA needs to throw a smoke-free celebration for approximately 30 residents.

Smoke-Free Public Housing Party in a Box includes:
• Streamers, balloons, and 6 table covers
• 6 table tent decorations
• 30 magnetic clip giveaways
• Educational literature for residents
• Smoke-free housing bingo card game
• Gift certificate for 1 sheet cake from local bakery

Registration for the webinar can be done at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6659582895810385675?source=NAHRO

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.

FMR Methodology Changes Under Consideration

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is proposing to change the methodology used for estimating fair market rents. Fair market rents (FMRs) are used as the basis for payment standards which determine the maximum level of assistance in the housing choice voucher program. They are also used by certain other programs. The Department’s FMRs are set at a level that should allow a program participant to afford to rent a unit for approximately 40 percent of an area’s standard quality stock.

The Department is updating the methodology for calculating FMRs because in the past it has received comments stating that “FMRs need to incorporate more local and more timely data.” In its comments on the fiscal year (FY) 2019 FMRs, NAHRO recommended that HUD use more timely data when calculating FMRs, fund local research surveys, and continue to refine its methodology for calculating FMRs. Additionally, the Senate Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations subcommittee, in report language, urged HUD to improve its FMR estimates to “better reflect the rent inflation that occurs between the time that American Community Survey data is collected and the fiscal year for which the FMRs are produced.”

Comments on the updated process are due in 30 days. (6/5/19 edit – Comments are due by July 5, 2019.)

Click below to read more.

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Enhanced Voucher Minimum Rent Calculation Changed in Certain Circumstances

In late May, HUD published PIH Notice 2019-12 (HA) titled “Enhanced Voucher Minimum Rent Calculation for Families Whose Incomes Subsequently Increase After Having Experienced a Significant Decrease.” The notice discusses how the minimum rent calculation for enhanced vouchers changes when a program participant experiences a significant decrease in income followed by a significant increase in income.

Enhanced vouchers are offered to families following a triggering event (usually a change in status of a development in HUD’s Office of Multifamily portfolio). Families receiving enhanced vouchers must still pay a minimum rent dollar amount. If the family experiences a decrease of at least 15 percent in their income from the date of the triggering event, then the minimum rent switches to a percentage (the specific percentage used will vary depending on whether the family was assisted previously or not). If the family’s income once again increases such that the percentage of income exceeds the dollar amount at the time of the triggering event, then the rent once again reverts back to the initial dollar amount at the time of the triggering event (i.e., the family is not paying more than the dollar amount when they first received the enhanced voucher).

Public housing agencies shall apply this change at the earlier of the family’s first reexamination following the issuance of this notice or an interim reexamination as the result of the increase in family income. The change is applied prospectively from that date–not retroactively.

The full notice can be read here.

HAP Pass-Throughs and HAP Contract Transfers prohibited in PBV program

Earlier today, HUD issued guidance clarifying that Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) pass-throughs and HAP contract transfers are prohibited under current rules for project-based vouchers (PBVs) under the housing choice voucher (HCV) program.

A HAP pass-through would allow the use of HAP to “provide assistance to tenants who are displaced from . . . HAP contract units due to a disaster or rehabilitation in another building or project.” Although HUD envisions guidance that may allow this in the future, at this time PHAs may not make these payments to the owners of unoccupied units  for the purpose of rehousing families.

A HAP contract transfer would allow project-based voucher contracts to be transferred from one project to a separate and distinct project. This is different from the sale, assignment, or transfer of ownership of the HAP contract–which is allowable, if done following the appropriate PBV regulations. Contract transfers of HAP are not allowable (with some Rental Assistance Demonstration exceptions), though future guidance may change this.

The full guidance document can be found here.

Initial Chapters of New HCV Guidebook Published

Earlier today, HUD sent an email announcing that the initial chapters of a New Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Guidebook have been published. As the email states, guidebooks consolidate “into one document the requirements outlined in several publications: regulatory requirements, PIH Notices, Federal Register Notices, and other forms of guidance issued by HUD.” Given the complexity of navigating between several layers of regulation and guidance, having a single place to view all of a program’s rules and requirements is essential.

The three chapters that have been completed and can be read online are the following:

Chapters still being worked on include the following:

  • “Fair Housing Requirements”;
  • “Waiting List & Tenant Selection”;
  • “Housing Search and Leasing”;
  • “HAP Contracts”;
  • “Payment Standards”;
  • “Calculating Rent & Housing Assistance Payments (HAP)”;
  • “Utility Allowance”;
  • “Terminations”;
  • “Informal Hearings & Reviews”; and
  • “Special Housing Type.”

NAHRO applauds HUD updating their Housing Choice Voucher Guidebook. During the summer of 2018, NAHRO sent a letter to HUD noting the importance of the guidebooks and urging HUD to prioritize updating them.

The HCV Guidebook can be accessed here.

HCV Funding Implementation Webcast Published

Yesterday, HUD’s Financial Management Division (FMD) published a webcast on the notice titled “Implementation of Federal FY19 Funding Provisions for the Housing Choice Voucher.” The notice was published in April, and NAHRO previously mentioned it on this blog.

The webcast published on YouTube can be found here.

PowerPoint slides from the webcast can be found here.

Proposed Rule Requires Verification of Eligible Immigration Status for HUD Assistance

Tomorrow, HUD will publish in the Federal Register a proposed rule titled “Housing and Community Development Act of 1980: Verification of Eligible Status.” This proposed rule purports to change how families with mixed immigration statuses receive prorated HUD assistance. Comments are due 60 days after publication.

Current Proration of HUD Assistance

Currently, families with a mixed status may apply for assistance by declaring that each member of the family is 1) a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen; or 2) decide not to contend eligible immigration status (and not submit verification documentation) for that member. Family members that declare themselves eligible must provide acceptable evidence of immigration status. Verification is provided through the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) system–administered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The system saves the information of noncitizens. Assistance is then prorated such that only citizen-members (or eligible non-citizen-members) of families receive funding (excluding those who do not contend their eligible immigration status).

Proposed Changes

This proposed rule would make two changes to the current system. First, the proposed rule would require that all family members (except those over the age of 62) have their immigration status verified through SAVE (i.e., family members would no longer have the option to not contend their eligible immigration status). Under most covered programs, those who have not submitted evidence of eligible immigration status will be required to do so at their first regular reexamination.

Second, the proposed rule would specify that individuals that do not have a verified eligible immigration status may not serve as the head of household or spouse–i.e., the holder of the lease.

The pre-publication copy of the proposed rule can be found here.

The published in the Federal Register version can be found here (available 5/10/2019).

 

HUD Publishes Notice on Treatment of ABLE Accounts

[5/6/2019 (12:58 PM ET) – The original version of this post linked to the wrong notice; the links have been corrected.]

In late April, HUD published a notice titled “Treatment of ABLE Accounts in HUD-Assisted Programs” (PIH 2019-09). The notice states that for the purpose of determining eligibility and continued occupancy, HUD and HUD program administrators  must disregard amounts in an individual’s Achieving Better Life Experience (ABLE) account. These accounts are established by states and allow for contributions to be made to the account to benefit the designated beneficiary for qualified disability expenses. According to the notice, “[t]he designated beneficiary must be a person with disabilities, whose disability began prior to [his, her, or their] 26th birthday and who meets the statutory eligibility requirements.”

The notice requires that the entire value of the ABLE account be excluded, including actual or imputed interest on the ABLE account balance. Additionally, distributions from the ABLE account are also not considered income.

Owners and PHAs should develop a policy and procedure for verifying ABLE accounts that obtains the following:

  • the name of the designated beneficiary; and
  • the State ABLE program administering the account to verify that the account qualifies as an ABLE account.

This notice applies to the public housing program; the housing choice voucher program; project-based section 8; Section 202/162 project assistance contract; Section 202 project rental assistance contract; Section 202 senior preservation rental assistance contracts; Section 811 project rental assistance contract; Section 811 project rental assistance; Section 236; and Section 221(d)(3) and Section 221(d)(5) below market interest rate.

The full notice can be found here.