Administration Announces Housing Supply Action Plan

On May 16, the administration announced a housing supply action plan that is intended to “ease the burden of housing costs over time, by boosting the supply of quality housing in every community.” The plan includes both legislative and administrative actions and is meant to align with other policies currently in effect (e.g., federal rental assistance) to create more affordable rents and make homeownership more affordable.

While the plan includes many specific actions, many of those actions can be grouped into the following categories.

  • Incentivizing jurisdictions to reform their zoning and land-use policies by giving higher scores to jurisdictions that do this in federal grant allocations.
  • Implementing new financing mechanisms to build and preserve housing, including manufactured housing; accessory dwelling units; two to four unit properties; and other multifamily buildings.
  • Improving existing federal financing for development and preservation, which includes making construction to permanent loans more available; promoting the use of COVID recovery funds for affordable housing; reforming the low-income housing tax credit and the HOME program.
  • Ensuring that more housing goes to owners that live in the units or non-profits that will rehabilitate them.
  • Addressing supply chain issues by working with the private sector.

The White House’s full announcement of their housing supply action plan can be found here.

HUD Extends Streamlined Waiver Requests for Certain HCV Waivers

On April 11th, HUD published a notice extending the time in which certain Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) waivers could be applied for in an expedited manner. The notice is titled “Streamlined Regulatory Waivers for the Housing Choice Voucher (including Mainstream and Mod Rehab) Program” (PIH 2022-09).

The notice extends the deadline–until September 30, 2022–to apply for three specific waivers that apply to the Housing Choice Voucher program. These waivers were previously available through prior notices, but the deadline to apply through the expedited process had ended.

The three waivers that are still available for the HCV program are the following:

  • Increase in Payment Standard During HAP Contract Term – this waiver would allow the PHA to increase the payment standard for a family at any time after the effective date of the increase, rather than waiting for the next regular reexamination.
  • Term of Voucher: Extensions of Term – this waiver would allow PHAs to grant extensions of the initial voucher term, irrespective of what is written in the PHA’s administrative plan.
  • Voucher Tenancy: New Payment Standard Amount – this waiver would allow PHAs to establish payment standards from 111 to 120 percent of the Fair Market Rent (FMR).

In requesting a waiver, the PHA must articulate a good cause justification. The good cause justification must include three elements: 1) why the PHA needs the waiver; 2) the impact on PHA operations or applicants if the waiver is not provided; and 3) the proposed waiver duration. The waiver may not extend past Dec. 31, 2022. The notice provides examples of good cause.

To request a waiver, PHAs should email PIH_Expedited_Waivers@hud.gov. The notice provides instructions on the information required and the proper formatting of the email request.

The full notice can be found here.

When Does a PHA Not Receive a SEMAP Score? Find Out Here!

The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely impacted many PHAs’ voucher operations. In recognition of this, HUD has afforded PHAs that meet certain criteria the opportunity to waive their Section 8 Management Assessment Program (SEMAP) scores in recognition of the pandemic environment. There are also certain other instances when PHAs may not receive a SEMAP score. This blog post illustrates three instances where a PHA may not receive a SEMAP score.

Instances Where a Prior SEMAP Score Is Carried Forward

PHAs with a fiscal year end (FYE) on Dec. 31, 2021 will have their most recent SEMAP score on record carried forward. See pages 39 and 40 of Notice PIH 2021-14 (HA). (Note: For these PHAs, they will not qualify for the expedited waiver described below for their FYE on Dec. 31, 2022.)

PHAs that Receive an Expedited SEMAP Waiver

PHAs with a FYE of 3/31/22, 6/30/22 or 9/30/22 may request to waive the application of SEMAP in its entirety, but only if the PHA has SEMAP indicators that were–directly or indirectly–affected because of a disruption to PHA operations caused by the PHA’s adoption of CARES Act waivers. See page 4 of Notice PIH 2021-34. Additional information on applying for the SEMAP waiver or other expedited waivers can be found in Notice PIH 2021-34. The deadline to apply for expedited waivers has been extended to April 1, 2022. After April 1, PHAs may still apply for a regulatory waiver, but the expedited waiver process will no longer be available. See Notice PIH 2022-04.

Certain Small PHAs (Fewer than 250 Assisted Units)

HUD’s regulations state that HUD will assess and score SEMAP for PHAs with fewer than 250 assisted units every other PHA fiscal year unless the PHA elects to have itself scored annually or the PHA is troubled. 24 CFR 982.105(a)(2). Clarifying HUD guidance states that non-troubled PHAs with fewer than than 250 assisted units and FYEs of 3/31/2022 or 6/30/2022 do not have to have submit a SEMAP certification. See chart and accompanying text on page 3 of the IMS-PIC SEMAP Sub Module PHA Certification and PHA Appeal Submission Instructions, March 2019.

PHAs that fall into one of these categories may not receive an SEMAP score from HUD.

Carbon Monoxide Alarms or Detectors Required in HUD Housing

On Jan. 31, HUD published a notice titled “Carbon Monoxide Alarms or Detectors in U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-Assisted Housing.” The notice discusses the risks of carbon monoxide (CO), provides resources for detecting CO and preventing exposure, and requires that CO alarms or detectors be installed in certain HUD-assisted housing. The notice states that housing in the following programs should comply with the International Fire Code (IFC) 2018 standards on the installation of CO alarms or detectors by Dec. 27, 2022:

  • Public Housing (PH);
  • Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program;
  • Project-based Voucher (PBV) program;
  • Project-based Rental Assistance (PBRA);
  • Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly (Section 202);
  • Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities (Section 811).

Carbon monoxide is a “an odorless, colorless, and toxic gas.” It can be caused by the “fuel burned in vehicles, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, or furnaces.” It can poison people and animals when it builds up indoors. While the effects of CO exposure can vary, it can cause adverse health impacts such as “permanent brain damage, life-threatening cardiac complications, fetal death or miscarriage, and death in a matter of minutes.”

The International Code Council (ICC) publishes the International Fire Code (IFC). HUD encourages PHAs and owners to adopt standards at or above the standards of the 2018 International Fire Code. These requirements will be enforced by HUD after Dec. 27, 2022. HUD encourages PHAs and owners to adopt the standards as soon as possible.

PHAs with PH may use either Operating Funds or Capital funds for CO alarms or detectors. There are also Capital Fund competitions for additional funds. For the HCV and PBV programs, the owner is responsible for the CO alarms or detectors, but PHAs may use their administrative fees for landlord  outreach and education on CO requirements. Owners of PBRA, Section 202, and Section 811 properties may use the property’s reserve for replacement account, residual receipts, general operating reserves, owner contributions, or secondary financing to fund CO alarms and detectors.

The notice helps PHAs and owners prevent the intrusion of CO. The notice provides examples of activities the prevent CO intrusion. It also provides a list of sources of CO that can be found in a housing environment. Finally, it gives examples of activities residents should avoid to prevent unintentional CO poisoning. HUD intends to provide additional guidance to be used to educate tenants.

Finally, the notice provides a list of additional resources including resources from other relevant federal agencies.

The full notice can be found here.

New HUD Waiver Notice for Disaster Areas

On Jan. 5, HUD published a notice in the Federal Register titled “Regulatory and Administrative Requirement Waivers and Flexibilities Available to HUD Public Housing and Section 8 During CY 2022 and CY 2023 to Public Housing Agencies To Assist With Recovery and Relief Efforts on Behalf of Families Affected by Presidentially Declared Disasters.” The notice provides an expedited process for PHAs to apply for certain waivers and flexibilities when faced with a Presidentially Declared Disaster (PDD) for the calendar years (CYs) 2022 and 2023. The notice is effective from Jan. 1, 2022 to Dec. 31, 2023.

This notice lists the waivers and flexibilities that are available to PHAs, notes that it will consider certain exceptions, and provides instructions on how to submit waiver, flexibility, and exception requests. The following flexibilities and waivers may be requested (please note that the list below is summarized—see the full notice to read the complete descriptions of the waivers):

  • Operating Subsidy Flexibility in Approved Vacancies – a PHA is eligible to receive funding for vacant public housing units that are vacant because of a declared disaster, subject to HUD approval. Eligible units will be considered approved for 12 months.
  • Uniform Financial Reporting Standards; Filing of Financial Reports; Reporting Compliance Dates – HUD may approve delays to certain financial reporting requirements.
  • Public Housing Assessment System – HUD may consider waiving the physical inspection and scoring of public housing projects.
  • Cost and Other Limitations; Maximum Project Cost; TDC Limit – HUD may waive total development costs (TDC) and housing cost cap limits for all work funded through the Capital Fund until the next issuance of TDC limits.
  • Cost and Other Limitations; Types of Labor – HUD may allow PHAs that are not high-performing to use force account labor for modernization-only activities even with not included in the PHA’s 5-year action plan. This waiver will not exceed a period of 12 months.
  • Capital Fund Formula; Replacement Housing Factor to Reflect Formula Need for Projects With Demolition or Disposition Occurring on or After October 1, 1998 and Prior to September 30, 2013 – HUD may allow unexpended Capital Fund Replacement Housing Factor Grants to be used for public housing modernization. This waiver will not exceed a period of 12 months.
  • Tenant Selection Policies and Administrative Plan – HUD may waive requirements that a PHA’s Board of Commissioners approves revisions to tenant selection policies and a PHA’s administrative plan if the revisions are temporary, do not exceed a period of 12 months, are not significant amendments, and comply with the PHA’s plan or state law.
  • Waiting List; Opening and Closing; Public Notice – HUD may waive the requirement that it must provide public notice when opening and closing its waiting list by posting in a local newspaper of general circulation. It would replace that requirement by an alternative one requiring the PHA to post notice to its website. The waiver will not exceed a period of 12 months.
  • HUD Approval of Exception Payment Standard Amount – HUD may approve an exception payment standard that is higher than 110% of the Fair Market Rent.
  • Housing Quality Standards; Space and Security – HUD may waive the requirement that units have at least 1 bedroom for every 2 people to house families displaced by natural disasters. The waiver will be in effect for the initial lease term.
  • Occupancy of Home – HUD may allow families participating in the homeownership program to continue receiving housing assistance payments even if displaced from their homes.
  • Contract of Participation; Contract Extension – HUD may consider authorizing a PHA to extend a family’s contract of participation in a Family Self Sufficiency program for up to 3 years. Any waiver will be in effect for a request made to the PHA during a period of up to 12 months.
  • Section 8 Management Assessment Program (SEMAP) – HUD may consider a request to carry forward a PHA’s last SEMAP score.
  • Verification of the Social Security – HUD may consider a request to transmit form HUD-50058 within 90 days, instead of the usual 30 days, of the receipt of the applicant’s social security documentation.
  • Specific Criteria for HUD Approval of Demolition Requests – for certain Section 18 demolition requests, HUD will accept certain environmental reviews.
  • Approval of Demolition – HUD may waive the requirement for a list of specific and detailed work items for certain Section 18 demolition requests.

A PHA may also request an exception to a requirement that is not listed. HUD will consider these requests subject to statutory and regulatory limitations.

To request waivers, if in a Presidentially Declared Disaster area, a PHA should complete Appendix A of the notice and email the completed appendix with supporting documentation to PIH_Disaster_Relief@hud.gov.

The full notice can be accessed here.

HUD Publishes Expedited Waiver Notice for Public Housing and Voucher Programs

On Dec. 9, HUD published a notice titled “Expedited Regulatory Waivers for the Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher (including Mainstream and Mod Rehab) Programs” (Notice PIH 2021-34). This notice provides information on flexibilities that HUD will continue to provide for the public housing and Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) programs, even though most regulatory and statutory waivers related to the COVID-19 pandemic will expire at the end of the year. The COVID-19 waivers for the public housing and voucher programs were published because of authority given to HUD through the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Additional information on the expiration of these waivers can be found in HUD’s guidance for winding down CARES Act waivers; PIH 2021-14 (providing revised waivers for public housing and the HCV program); PIH 2020-20 (providing waivers for the Mod. Rehab. program); and PIH 2020-22 (providing waivers for Mainstream vouchers).

This notice divides the additional potential flexibilities into three categories. First, there are flexibilities that will continue with no waivers needed. Second, there are regulatory waivers that PHAs may request and which HUD will review through a streamlined process. Third, there are additional regulatory waivers which PHAs may request, but which HUD will review through its normal waiver review process. None of the statutory waivers provided through CARES Act authority will be extended. In general, HUD lacks the authority to waive statutory program requirements, so PHAs should not request waivers for statutory requirements.

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HUD Requires PHAs to Submit CARES Act Waiver Information by Dec. 20, 2021

On Dec. 6, HUD published a notice titled “Submitting CARES Act Waiver Adoption Information to HUD by December 20, 2021” (PIH 2021-33). This notice requires all PHAs–including those that did not adopt any CARES Act waivers and those that are Moving to Work (MTW) agencies–to report on the waivers that they did or did not implement in the CARES Act Waiver Reporting Tool (CAWRT).

The CARES Act, passed on March 27, 2020, provided HUD with the authority to waive certain statutes and regulations for the public housing and the housing choice voucher (HCV) programs as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department exercised its authority to issue waivers through multiple notices, including PIH 2021-14 (providing revised waivers for public housing and the HCV program), PIH 2020-20 (providing waivers for the Mod. Rehab. program), and PIH 2020-22 (providing waivers for Mainstream vouchers). Additionally, HUD has provided guidance for winding down the waivers as they near their end of life.

Housing agencies must now report to HUD the waivers that they adopted. In adopting CARES Act waivers, HUD required PHAs to record which waivers the PHA had adopted. Agencies should have made this document available to the public. The Department also provided a suggested format for recording adopted waivers in the form of Attachment I of PIH Notice 2021-14. HUD requires one response from each PHA code. Agencies participating in the MTW program should only indicate adoption of the waivers that were adopted through CARES Act authority.

This reporting requirement must be met by Dec. 20, 2021.

Step-by-step instructions to complete this reporting requirement can be found here.

Housing agencies can access the CARES Act Waiver Reporting Tool here.

HUD Publishes CARES Act Waiver Wind Down Guidance

Late this afternoon, HUD published additional guidance instructing PHAs on how to wind down CARES Act waivers. According to HUD, the guidance “outline[s] planning considerations available to PHAs as they evaluate how to effectively and efficiently navigate the CARES Act Waivers expiration.” The Department did not publish additional guidance documents on waivers that were already expired or where HUD felt it unnecessary. There will be future guidance on both the Section Eight Management Assessment Program (SEMAP) and the Public Housing Assessment System (PHAS).

There are guidance documents for the following program areas:

  • Verification – this document provides guidance on verification documents on income, citizenship, social security numbers, and proof of family composition. Information in it is applicable to public housing, housing choice vouchers (HCVs), and mod. rehab. programs.
  • Inspections – this document provides information inspection-related waivers. Information in it is applicable to public housing, HCVs, and mod. rehab. programs.
  • Occupancy Policies – this document provides guidance on waivers that allowed families to remain in their units during the pandemic. Information in it is applicable to public housing and HCVs.
  • Project-based and Enhanced Voucher Provisions on Under-Occupied Units – this document provides information on waivers that enabled homeless families to enter into lease agreements for under-occupied project-based voucher (PBV) units. Information in it applies to PBVs, the rental assistance demonstration (RAD) program, and enhanced voucher programs.
  • Capital Programs – this document provides information on waivers related to capital program operations during the pandemic and certain additional waivers. It is applicable to the public housing program.
  • Uniform Financial Reporting Standards – this document provides information on how PHAs submit their financial statements.
  • Community Service and Self-Sufficiency Requirements (CSSR) – this document provides information about the requirement that public housing residents participate in community service or an economic self-sufficiency program and is applicable to public housing.

Links to all of this guidance along with a table with updated waiver expiration dates can be found here.

NAHRO members will receive additional information on these guidance documents in the coming days.

OSHA Releases Vaccine and Testing Mandate for Large Employers

On Nov. 4, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released its vaccine mandate for businesses with 100 or more employees. It is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register tomorrow, Nov. 5, and will take effect immediately. Covered employers have 30-days (by approximately Dec. 5) to become compliant and implement a vaccine and mask mandate and unvaccinated employees must be in compliance with weekly testing requirements within 60-days (by approximately Jan. 4).

A pre-publication copy of the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) on COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing can be found here. The majority of the ETS provides background, justification, description; and the last section lists the regulatory updates and additions. While the full document is 490 pages, the regulation itself is much shorter and can be found on page 473.

The purpose of the ETS is to protect unvaccinated employees of large employers from the risk of contracting COVID-19 by strongly encouraging vaccination. Covered employers must develop, implement, and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, with an exception for employers that adopt a policy requiring employees to either get vaccinated or elect to undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work in lieu of vaccination.

Unvaccinated employees would need to wear a mask indoors or in vehicles with employees at all times except when alone in a room with floor to ceiling walls or windows and a closed door. There is no mask requirement for vaccinated employees.

At this time the ETS only applies to employers of 100 or more employees, however OSHA is continuing to discuss whether or not this should apply to smaller employers.

NAHRO will continue to follow OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard on COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing, and will share additional information as it becomes available.

HUD Publishes New Guidance on Eviction Requirements for Public Housing and PBRA

On Oct. 7, 2021, HUD published a notice titled “Supplemental Guidance to the Interim Final Rule ‘Extension of Time and Required Disclosures for Notification of Nonpayment of Rent’” Notice PIH 2021-29. This notice serves as additional guidance to an interim final rule that was also published in October. The interim final rule specified that where there is federal funding available due to the declaration of a national emergency, PHAs with public housing and owners with project-based rental assistance (PBRA) must do the following at HUD’s discretion:

  • Provide at least 30 days from the date a tenant receives a notice of lease termination for failure to pay rent before terminating the tenant; and
  • Provide information (e.g., information about how to apply for and receive emergency federal funding) to the tenant as determined by HUD.

This PIH notice provides additional guidance to the requirements of the interim final rule. First, it clarifies the instances in which the rule is applicable. The rule applies to PHAs with a public housing program, including Moving to Work (MTW) agencies, and owners with PBRA. For the purposes of this notice, PBRA is defined as the following (i.e., this notice applies to the following programs):

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