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 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.

HUD Posts RAD Rent Levels for 2019 (Based on 2018 Public Housing Funding Levels)

Earlier today, the Department of Housing and Urban Development sent an email through its RADBlast! email list announcing RAD rents levels for 2019 (based on 2018 Public Housing Funding Levels). These rents will be used for new awards used in 2019. They may also be used for current awardees to update rents in existing Commitments to enter into Housing Assistance Payment contracts (CHAPs). Closed transactions are ineligible to receive these new rents. Remember, these new rents–after being updated with 2019 Operating Cost Adjustment Factors (OCAFs)–may not necessarily be higher than your current CHAP rents depending on how the transaction is structured. NAHRO strongly recommends carefully reading HUD’s Frequently-Asked-Questions (FAQ) document on updating RAD rents before requesting updated rents.

Additionally, HUD has created a streamlined, online RAD application for public housing conversions that can be accessed here.

The 2019 RAD Rents can be accessed here.

The FAQ can be found here.

Secretary Carson to Lead Opportunity and Revitalization Council

In a press release published earlier today, HUD announced that the President established the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council and named Secretary Carson its chairperson. The White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council’s activities include the following:

  • Engage all levels of government on methods to effectively use taxpayer dollars to revitalize low-income communities;
  • Streamline, coordinate, and target existing Federal programs to Opportunity Zones and distressed communities;
  • Consider legislative proposals and undertake regulatory reform to remove barriers to revitalization; and
  • Present the President with options to encourage capital investment in economically distressed communities.

Secretary Carson has said that “[t]hese are still early days for the work of the Council and Opportunity Zones, but the groundwork has been laid . . . [t]he seeds the President has planted are growing and the promise they hold will improve places long forgotten, and the lives of those who call those places home.”

The full press release can be found here.

HUD Updates RAD Notice on Davis-Bacon Prevailing Wage Requirements

The Department of Housing and Urban Development published a notice in the Federal Register announcing that it has published guidance clarifying the use of Davis-Bacon Prevailing Wage Requirements. With the conversion of Rent Supp., RAP, Mod. Rehab., or Mod. Rehab. SRO contracts to PBRA contracts, Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements are not triggered.

The full Federal Register notice can be found here.

The guidance document (H-2018-11; PIH-2018-22) 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.

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.]

HUD Updates Guidance on EIV System

In late October, HUD published a notice titled “Administrative Guidance for Effective and Mandated Use of the Enterprise Income Verification (EIV) System” (PIH 2018-18). The EIV system is a web-based application that allows PHAs to check employment, wage, unemployment compensation and social security benefit information for Section 8 and Public Housing program participants. The notice updates the previous guidance on EIV by discussing  the Income Validation Tool (IVT) Report. The IVT Report replaces the Income Discrepancy Report under the verification reports link. The IVT will be updated monthly. It will provide information on tenant reported income, previous reported income from form HUD-50058, and discrepancies between tenant reported income and information gleaned from HUD data sharing agreements with Health and Human Services and the Social Security Administration.

The notice can be found here.