MTW Expansion Applications for Cohorts #3 and #4 Posted

Earlier today, HUD published applications to apply for additional cohorts in the Moving to Work (MTW) Expansion. The Moving to Work program allows PHAs additional regulatory flexibilities to implement innovative strategies to house families. The MTW Expansion incorporates a research component with every new cohort of MTW agencies.

The applications can be found here:

NAHRO members will receive additional information about both applications in the coming days.

HUD Restricts MTW Participation in the Mobility Demonstration

Tomorrow, HUD will publish a notice titled “Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers: Implementation of the Housing Choice Voucher Mobility Demonstration, Restrictions on Participating in the Mobility Demonstration and the Moving to Work Demonstration Expansion.” To maintain the “Congressionally mandated rigorous evaluation” of the Moving to Work (MTW) Demonstration expansion and the mobility demonstration expansion, HUD is restricting the overlap between MTW agencies and agencies that can participate in the mobility demonstration.

In general, PHAs that participate in MTW Expansion cohorts 2, 3, or 4 may not participate in the mobility demonstration program. Housing agencies that participate in MTW Expansion cohorts 1 or 5 may participate, but will have their MTW flexibilities curtailed.

The restrictions are noted below.

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CARES Act Admin Fee Eligible Uses Revised

On Dec. 10, HUD revised the list of eligible activities for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Administrative Fee Funds for the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program. Congress allocated $1.25 billion in administrative fees to HUD to disburse to PHAs. The administrative fees were transferred by HUD to PHAs in two disbursements. The first disbursement occurred in May, while the second occurred in July.

The new coronavirus-related uses of the CARES Act HCV administrative fee are the following:

  • Relocation of PHA staff and participating families to health units or other designated units for vaccination.
  • Hiring of temporary employees to maintain program operations due to coronavirus.
  • Costs related to office improvements, including improved systems for teleworking and/or rental of additional space, to ensure social distancing and other CDC recommended measures.
  • One-time utility deposits to assist families in securing units.

The uses listed above are in addition to regular administrative fee uses and the older coronavirus-related uses HUD had already authorized.

The updated list of eligible uses of CARES Act HCV administrative fees can be found here.

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.

HUD to Extend Mobility Demonstration Application Deadline to Feb. 1, 2021

Tomorrow, HUD will publish in the Federal Register a notice titled “Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers: Implementation of the Housing Choice Voucher Mobility Demonstration, Extension of Application Due Date.” The mobility demonstration will allow selected PHAs to offer mobility-related services to enable families with children to live in areas of opportunity. The deadline has been extended to February 1, 2021.

A pre-publication copy of the extension notice can be found here.

New HUD Guidance on Remote Hearings and Remote Briefings

The Department has published a notice titled “Guidance for PHAs on the Allowability of Remote Hearings and Remote Briefings” (PIH 2020-32). The notice provides additional guidance for conducting remote hearings (e.g., informal hearings for denial of admission, informal settlement of a grievance, etc.) and remote briefings (e.g., oral briefings for new Housing Choice Voucher [HCV] applicants, project-based voucher applicants, and tenant-protection voucher families). The notice outlines requirements for the technology platform used to conduct these activities remotely, discusses how to identify and resolve technology barriers prior to conducting remote hearings or briefings, discusses presenting documents prior to remote hearings and remote briefings, discusses specific public housing requirements, and specific HCV requirements.

Members of NAHRO will receive additional information on this notice.

The full notice 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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HCV Optimization Notice Published

On October 16, HUD published a notice titled “Guidance for Running an Optimized Housing Choice Voucher Program” (PIH 2020-29). The notice warns of increasing reserves nationally and notes that an optimized Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program maximizes the number of families served, while minimizing rent burden. The notice discusses several program tools such as the Two-Year Forecasting Tool, the Payment Standard Tool, the HCV Analysis Tool and PIC Drill-Down, and the HCV Guidebook. The notice also discusses the voucher program planning timeline and best practices to increase success rates.

The full notice can be found here.

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.