The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will be extending the comment period on its proposed rule to affirmatively further fair housing. The new comment deadline is April 24, 2023. The Department states that the “extension will allow interested persons additional time to analyze the proposal and prepare their comments.”
A pre-publication copy of the extension can be found here.
The Department has posted a final rule implementing changes that will affect how PHAs conduct reexaminations, interact with over-income households, and handle asset limits. The rule would implement sections 102, 103, and 104 of the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016. The rule primarily affects the Public Housing, Housing Choice Voucher, and Project-based Rental Assistance programs. It also impacts certain other community development programs in order to align certain program requirements and definitions between programs. These other programs include Community Development Block Grants; HOME Investment Partnerships; the Housing Trust Fund; Housing Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, Supportive Housing for the Elderly (Section 202), and Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities (Section 811). While not applicable to all sections of the rule, much of it has an effective date of January 1, 2024.
NAHRO will provide its members with additional information on the new rule in the near future.
A one-page fact sheet on the rule can be found here.
The HUD website for the rule can be found here.
The pre-publication copy of the final rule can be found here.
On Jan. 6, HUD published a notice in the Federal Register detailing several changes that were made in the 2022 revision to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The changes were made in several sections. Many of the changes became effective on Oct. 1, 2022. The Department is seeking comment on the proposed changes by March 6, 2022.
Changes to VAWA Definitions
The revision amends the definition of “domestic violence” to include “any felony or misdemeanor crimes committed under the family or domestic violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant funding.” This definition includes “in the case of victim services, the use or attempted use of physical abuse or sexual abuse, or a pattern of any other coercive behavior committed, enabled, or solicited to gain or maintain power and control over a victim, including verbal, psychological, economic, or technological abuse that may or may not constitute criminal behavior” by certain individuals including current or former spouses, current or former co-inhabitants, people sharing a child, or people who commit acts against people protected from acts by family or domestic violence laws of a jurisdiction.
The definitional change occurred on Oct. 1, 2022. While the change is only for grants authorized under VAWA, HUD notes that the current definition of domestic violence covers all of the additional conduct specified in VAWA 2022, and HUD interprets the existing regulatory definitions of “domestic violence” and “stalking” to encompass all of the revised conduct.
Additional Covered Housing Programs
The revision expands the scope of covered programs to include the Section 202 Direct Loan Program, the Housing Trust Fund, and any other federal housing programs. For the Housing Trust Fund, the Department already considers it a covered program through its regulatory authority. The Department will issue new regulations to cover all the additional programs.
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Earlier today, HUD published a press release announcing that it had selected PHAs for the fourth cohort of the Moving to Work (MTW) program. The MTW program allows PHAs that have received MTW status certain additional flexibilities in how they use their funds and greater freedom in how they operate. The program allows PHAs to innovate in how they provide housing.
The current expansion of the MTW program requires PHAs to commit to research on a particular policy topic. In addition to the regulatory and operational flexibility afforded by the program, PHAs selected in this cohort have committed to research asset building policies. Housing agencies in this cohort will have to pick, implement, and track one of the three following options for asset building policies:
- Opt-Out Savings Account Option – PHAs must deposit a certain amount of funds per month into an escrow account on behalf of an assisted household.
- Credit Building Option – PHAs must report public housing rent payments to credit bureaus.
- PHA-Designed Asset Building Option – PHAs must design their own local asset building program.
Currently, HUD has selected 87 of the 100 agencies, including 16 in this cohort, to which it is statutorily mandated to award an MTW designation. According to HUD, “MTW agencies are now in 40 states and the District of Columbia.”
HUD’s press release on the MTW fourth cohort can be found here.
The Request for Applications for the MTW fourth cohort (Notice PIH 2022-11) can be found here.
NAHRO congratulates all of the selected PHAs that were selected in this cohort. The complete list can be found below.
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The Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future have created a guide to help “outline measures and data gathering practices” that may “amplify resident voice and agency.” The guide is titled “Measuring Resident Agency and Voice in an Affordable Housing Setting: A Set of Guiding Questions to Move Forward.” The measures suggested by the guide fall into four categories. The categories were chosen based on how prevalent they were in current research, their relevance to the affordable housing industry, and their applicability to the affordable housing industry. In each category, the guide presents a few paragraphs on why the category is important, some suggested questions on how to think about the category for organizational staff, and some suggested questions to ask residents.
The categories covered by the guide are the following:
- Resident Satisfaction – the guide notes that assessing resident satisfaction is a way to check if resident needs and safety are being met, which are needed, if additional and deeper resident engagement is to be had.
- Social Cohesion – the guide defines this as “connectedness among residents” and notes that it can provide insight into a property’s culture, especially around “neighborliness and collaboration.”
- Resident Power – the guide notes that this is important because it can help determine what a property remodel can look like or how operations and service delivery can be changed. It is the “ultimate outcome of exercising agency and voice.”
- Civic Engagement – the guide gives examples of this as “volunteering, attending public hearings, and voting” and notes that these activities have served as indicators of community participation.
The full guide can be found here.
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.
Public housing residents and Section 8 program participants are eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The program provides a discount of up to $30 per month (and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying tribal lands) towards internet service for eligible households. Households can also receive up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute between $10 and $50 toward the purchase price.
To enroll in the program, a household has to do the following:
- Complete an online or mail-in application at ACPBenefit.org; and
- Contact a participating provider to select an internet plan and have the ACP discount applied.
There is a limit of one monthly service discount and one device per household.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has created a consumer outreach toolkit. The toolkit includes infographics, fact sheets, flyers, consumer handouts, audio public service announcements, videos, newsletter blurbs, press release text, and sample social media posts to help spread the word about the program. It also includes translations of some of the handouts, web resources, and a speaker request section.
Additional information on the Affordable Connectivity Program can be found here.
HUD’s guide to the program can be found here.
A program fact sheet can be found here.
The FCC’s ACP Consumer Outreach Toolkit can be found here.
Earlier today, the HUD Moving to Work (MTW) office sent an email with information about upcoming webinars on asset building strategies that PHAs can employ to help their residents. Asset building (as defined in PIH 2022-11–the MTW cohort on asset building) is defined as “activities that encourage the growth of savings accounts and/or aim to build credit for assisted households.” The information from the email is reproduced below.
- Asset Building Opportunities for HUD-Assisted Tenants
Tuesday, May 10, 2022 | 2:00-3:00 pm EST
Join HUD and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Webinar to learn the key financial components for people trying to build assets & increase financial well-being.
Link to Join | Access Code: KbnJzUPA?782
- How to Apply – MTW Expansion Asset Building Cohort Webinar
Tuesday, May 24, 2022 | 2:00 – 3:00 pm EST
During this webinar, HUD will walk through the selection notice and application materials and give PHAs more information about this cohort.
Link to Join | Join via telephone phone at 888-251-2949 | Access Code 3334803#
- Rent Reporting and Credit Building Opportunities for PHA Residents
Tuesday, June 7, 2022, 2:00-3:00 pm EST
Join HUD and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Webinar to learn about strategies for helping public housing residents build positive credit histories.
Link to Join | Access Code: 2SThfN6Zmj$2
As previously reported by NAHRO, HUD has now officially extended the deadline to April 1st for submitting a request for an expedited waiver. The new notice, Notice PIH 2022-04, states the following:
“This notice amends PIH-2021-34 solely by extending the submission deadline in Section 5 of the notice from March 1, 2022 to April 1, 2022. No additional submission extensions will be issued.”
From NAHRO’s discussions with HUD staff, NAHRO was able to learn that even after the deadline, PHAs will be able to apply for these waivers, but post-deadline requests will not go through the expedited waiver process. In addition, the simplified payment standard waiver process in the expedited waiver notice will remain in place after the deadline. Additional details on that process remaining in place will be explained in a future notice.
The full notice extending the deadline to April 1st can be found here.
On Feb. 9, HUD sent an email to PHA Executive Directors informing them what role a PHA may play in ensuring public housing residents have access to the electoral process and certain voter registration activities. PHAs should note that many electoral rules are set by the state and should ensure that they are complying with all applicable state and local laws.
Permissible PHA activities included the following:
- “Providing documentation of residence (e.g., address verification, leases, etc.) to public housing residents when requested to ensure residents are able to register to vote and vote. Your PHA and PHA residents can visit Vote.gov to determine what documentation of residence will be most helpful to persons trying to register to vote in your state.
- Applying to States to operate as a voter registration agency under the National Voter Registration Act. States are allowed to designate state, federal and non-governmental offices as voter registration agencies.
- If your PHA would like to be considered to be a voter registration agency, you can reach out to state election officials for more information about the rules and laws for your state. HUD does not make determinations about what offices can be designated as voter registration agencies – only your state election officials can make that determination.
- For more information on what it means to be a voter registration agency, see this FAQ by the Department of Justice: https://www.justice.gov/crt/national-voter-registration-act-1993-nvra
- Making voter registration resources available to residents. If you are not designated by the state as a voter registration agency, you can still facilitate residents’ access to voter registration. Such permissible actions include:
- Making voter registration forms available to residents.
- If the laws of your state allow, accepting completed voter registration application forms and transmitting these forms to the appropriate State election official.
- If the voter registration laws of your state allow, running a PHA-initiated voter registration drive. However, you would need to consult with your counsel and your state election director to identify the rules and laws around voter registration drives for your state.
- Permitting the use of PHA community space on an incidental basis to hold meetings, candidate forums, or voter registration, provided that all parties and organizations have access to the facility on an equal basis and are assessed equal rent or use charges.
- Collaborating with local election administrators to permit the use of PHA space for voter drop boxes and voting sites, including for early voting.” [Citations removed.]
To meet the costs of the above activities, PHAs may use public housing operating subsidies or administrative fees from the voucher program.
PHAs must not fund partisan political facilities or activities. Additionally, PHAs should not suggest that benefits are tied to voting activity, nor should they give the appearance that voting and voter registration are not voluntary activities. Additionally, PHAs should follow all applicable civil rights laws, including those that ensure voting processes are accessible for individuals with disabilities.
Additional information may be found at https://vote.gov. Additional questions may be sent to PHAVoterRegistration@hud.gov.