HUD Releases Revised COVID-19 Waiver Notice

On November 30, HUD released a notice extending COVID-19 waivers for PHAs. This notice is titled “COVID-19 Statutory and Regulatory Waivers and Alternative Requirements for the Public Housing, Housing Choice Voucher (including Mainstream and Mod Rehab), Indian Housing Block Grant and Indian Community Development Block Grant programs, Suspension of Public Housing Assessment System and Section Eight Management Assessment Program, Revision 2” (PIH 2020-33(HA), Rev-2). This notice restates the waivers from previous notices and incorporates the waivers from the mainstream voucher waiver notice and mod. rehab. waiver notice. It also adds several new waivers and alternative requirements and extends most of the waivers until June 30, 2021 (previously, most waivers were set to expire at the end of this year).

Some aspects of the previous waiver notice remain in place. First, the use of these waivers is discretionary. The PHA may choose which waivers it wishes to use. Additionally, some waivers have alternative requirements which should be read carefully. Finally, PHAs must publicly post or otherwise make available a list of all the waivers and alternative requirements the PHA choose to implement. The PHA must also notify residents and owners or the impact of the waivers and alternative requirements.

Members of NAHRO will receive additional information about this notice.

The full notice can be read here.

A quick reference chart of the waivers and their period of availability can be found here.

New Guidance for Conducting Remote Video Inspections

On November 12, 2020, HUD published a notice titled “Remote Video Inspections for Housing Choice Voucher Program” (PIH Notice 2020-31). The notice gives PHAs guidance for doing Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspections using Remote Video Inspections (RVIs), i.e., the process by which an inspector performs a HQS inspection at a remote site using a proxy (who follows the inspector’s instructions) and streaming technology.

Four Phases of an RVI

The guidance divides RVIs into four phases: administrative preparation; pre-inspection planning; performance of the inspection; and post inspection. In the administrative preparation phase, PHAs should check whether they need to update their administrative plan before incorporating new technology into their HQS inspections. The Department recommends describing who can participate in an RVI and the back-up process, if an RVI is unable to be completed. Additionally, PHAs should determine if the use of technology as part of the inspection process constitutes a significant amendment to the Annual Plan.

There are certain things PHA should do in the pre-inspection planning phase. First, the PHA should consider whether the proxy performing the RVI has the necessary equipment. If she does not, the PHA should consider how it will be provided. The Department recommends having the following items: a tape measure; a flashlight; a circuit analyzer, a way to test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors; a thermometer; and a smart phone or a tablet that meets certain streaming requirements. The RVIs should be scheduled like any other HQS inspection, but the PHA should also explain what RVIs are, why they’re being implemented, and provide a contact number and email address for tenants to raise questions or concerns. Finally, the inspector and the designated proxy should complete the free online course titled “Lead based Paint Visual Assessment Training Course” for properties built before 1978 where a child under six resides or will reside.

Certain steps should be taken, while performing the inspection. First, there should be adequate safeguards for the protection of personally identifiable information. The inspector may want to be in a PHA office or other remote location, while also using equipment that protects other private information. A proxy should be chosen for the inspection. The proxy may be the landlord, property representative, tenant, or any adult associated with the tenancy. Finally, once using a streaming platform to contact the proxy, the inspector should use the same inspection form the PHA currently uses to record deficiencies or if using a handheld device, use a consistent conversion process.

In the post-inspection time period, whether a unit passes or fails, the PHA should follow its administrative plan and procedures for that outcome.

Best Practices

The notice provides several best practices. First, the inspector should verify on the screen that the unit scheduled is being inspected by confirming the address and street name outside the unit. Second, the inspector should inspect the exterior of the unit and adjoining properties. Third, the inspector should inspect all interior spaces. Fourth, for a pre-1978 property, the inspector should follow all the national and state lead-based paint requirements. Fifth, the inspector should complete the process of generating a notification letter to the landlord or tenant to report inspection results. Finally, the appropriate individual should schedule a re-inspection or clearance test, if needed.

Proxy Certification

Prior to the RVI, the PHA and “impacted party with legal possession of the unit” (i.e., the tenant or the landlord) should agree to the use of the RVI. The PHA should notify the proxy in advance that the RVI will involve: determining no smell of natural gas, methane, or other noxious gas; completion of the “Lead based Paint Visual Assessment Training Course”; streaming the RVI without recording it; following the directions of the instructor; and other things deemed necessary by the PHA.

Finally, PHAs are encouraged to perform additional quality control inspections under the RVI process.

The full notice can be read here.

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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HUD Publishes HOTMA PBV Rule

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published a rule titled “Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016—Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) and Project-Based Voucher Implementation; Additional Streamlining Changes.” This rule does four things. First, it changes regulatory code to implement Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016 (HOTMA) provisions that were previously implemented via notice. Second, it proposes to implement additional provisions of HOTMA that have not yet been implemented. Third, it proposes several regulatory changes unrelated to HOTMA. Fourth, the rule proposes removing “obsolete regulatory provisions.” Comments for these proposed changes are due December 7, 2020.

There are several new HOTMA-related topics and non-HOTMA-related topics that this proposed rule is seeking to implement. Among the new HOTMA-related topics that this rule will implement include enforcement of housing quality standards, manufactured home space rental, entering into a project-based voucher (PBV) housing assistance payment (HAP) contract without an agreement to enter a HAP (AHAP) contract, providing rent adjustments using an operating cost adjustment fact (OCAF), owner-maintained site-based waiting lists, and environmental requirements for existing housing. Among the non-HOTMA-related topics touched by this rule are changes that HUD characterizes as clarifying and simplifying the program rules.

Staff at NAHRO are still in the process of reading through the proposed rule. Additional information will be forthcoming.

The rule can be found here.

HUD Publishes Guidance on RAD and CARES Act Funding

Earlier today, HUD published PIH 2020-26, titled “Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) – Supplemental COVID-19 Guidance.” This notice does two things. First, in obligating operating funds for a RAD conversation in the first calendar year in which a housing assistance payment (HAP) contract is effective, this notice states that the project is eligible to receive up to the CARES Act operating fund grant amount provided (prorated by the number of ACC units converted and removed from PIC). Second it provides flexibilities for PHAs in conducting required resident meetings prior to conversion until Dec. 31 2020 due to the COVID-19 emergency.

Members of NAHRO will receive additional information on this notice.

The full notice can be found here.

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.

HUD to Release Additional Mainstream Voucher Funding

Earlier today, HUD released a new Mainstream voucher notice titled “Mainstream Vouchers – Non-Competitive Opportunity for Additional Vouchers Authorized by the CARES Act, Temporary Waivers and Alternative Requirements, and Modified 2020 Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Renewal Calculation” (PIH 2020-22). This notice does the following:

  1. Allows any PHA with a Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program to apply for new Mainstream vouchers;
  2. Provides Mainstream-voucher-specific waivers; and
  3. Modifies the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) renewal formula for Mainstream vouchers.

The deadline for applying for new voucher funding is Dec. 31, 2020. The additional flexibilities offered in this notice may be used until Dec. 31, 2020. Additional information on the new notice can be found below.

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Today – NAHRO Webinar: The Impact of the CDC Eviction Moratorium on PHAs

NAHRO is hosting a webinar on the recently publish CDC order stopping most non-payment of rent evictions in the United States. The webinar is today, September 8, 2020 at 2pm eastern time. Click here to register. This webinar is complimentary for NAHRO members and $25 for non-member. More information on the benefits of NAHRO membership is available here.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have issued an order stopping most residential evictions for non-payment of rent through the end of 2020. What does this mean for Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) and their residents? Join the NAHRO team and Housing Development Law Institute (HDLI) staff as they provide a breakdown of the CDC order and discuss how it may affect the day-to-day operations of PHAs’ housing programs.

This webinar is the first of our complimentary member benefit series – monthly online sessions that will tackle hot topics, provide opportunities to hear from your peers in the field, and feature networking events to keep you connected. Keep an eye on our training calendar – more information will be coming soon!

Click here to register for today’s webinar!

HUD Publishes Mod. Rehab. CARES Act Waiver Notice

Earlier today, HUD published a notice titled ‘Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation Program – CARES Act Supplemental HAP Funding Allocation and COVID-19 Waivers and Alternative Requirements” (PIH 2020-20). This notice allocates additional funding for PHAs with Moderate Rehabilitation (Mod. Rehab.) programs and establishes voluntary waivers and alternative requirements that may be used by PHAs. This notice only applies to the Mod. Rehab. program administered by the Office of Public and Indian Housing and does not apply to the Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation Single Room Occupancy (SRO) program.

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HUD Publishes FY 2021 FMRs

Over the weekend, HUD published a list of fiscal year (FY) 2021 Fair Market Rents (FMRs). The FMR is the basis for defining the payment standard amount in the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program. The Department also uses FMRs for certain other HUD programs. A FMR is “the amount that would be needed to pay the gross rent (shelter rent plus utilities) of privately owned, decent, and safe rental housing of a modest (non-luxury) nature with suitable amenities.” It set at a level to estimate the 40th percentile gross rent (i.e., it is set at a level to allow a program participant to be able to rent a unit from 40 percent of the appropriate available stock in the area). Comments on FMR methodology or requests for FMR reevaluation must be submitted by Sept. 30, 2020. New FY 2021 FMRs will become effective on October 1, 2020.

The Department uses a several step process to calculate the FMRs. First, HUD begins with the U.S. Census Bureau’s 5-year American Community Survey (ACS) data collected between 2014 and 2018. The Department then updates this base year rent data with a 1-year recent mover factor based on the 1-year 2018 recent mover gross rent. The data is only updated if the recent mover factor increases the base year rent data. For both the base year data and the recent mover trend factor, alternative methods may be used for areas that do not have statistically reliable data. The Department then updates this data by using the annual change in gross rents measured through the Consumer Price Index (CPI) from 2018 to 2019. Finally, the Department trends forward the data using one of three models to bring the data from a 2019 estimate to a 2021 forecast. The model used to trend forward the data is based on which model “generates the lowest Root Mean Square Error (RMSE) statistic.”

Once the data has been forecast to FY 2021, the Department takes additional steps. First, the Department adjusts the data, which is typically for two-bedroom units, to create FMRs for other unit sizes. Second, the Department limits the amount of decrease an FMR may have from one year to the next. The current year’s FMR may be no less than ninety percent of the prior year’s FMR. Additionally, the FMRs are subject to the lower of a state or national floor for the FMR.

Small Area FMRs have a distinct methodology employed when being calculated, including their own alternative methods if the data for an area does not meet a statistical check.

Public housing agencies may request that HUD recalculate their FMRs for specific areas. Agencies may fund local surveys of rent and may use their administrative fees to fund these surveys. For a recalculation, a PHA must supply HUD with data more recent than the 2018 ACS data used in calculating FY 2021 FMRs. In early October, HUD will post a list of areas requesting reevaluations. Data for the reevaluations must be submitted by Friday, January 8th. The Department will then post revised FMRs. Data submitted after January 8, 2021 will be incorporated into FY 2022 FMRs.

The full notice can be found here.

The FY 2021 FMRs can be found here.