HUD Announces PHAs for MTW Asset Building Cohort

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Credit Building Option – PHAs must report public housing rent payments to credit bureaus.
  3. 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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Measuring Resident Agency

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.

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.

Public Housing Residents and Section 8 Program Participants Eligible for Affordable Connectivity Program

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:

  1. Complete an online or mail-in application at ACPBenefit.org; and
  2. 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.

New Opportunities to Learn Asset Building Strategies

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

HUD Publishes Notice Officially Extending Deadline to April 1st for Submitting Expedited Waiver Requests

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.

PHA Voter Registration Activities

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:

  1. “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.
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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.

$4 Million for Radon Testing NOFA

On Jan. 26, in a press release, HUD announced $4 million to be available for radon testing through the new Radon Testing and Mitigation Demonstration program Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFA). Radon is an odorless, clear radioactive gas that is found in every part of the United States. It can move from soil into buildings through small openings in a building’s foundation. When inhaled, radon can increase the risk of developing lung cancer.

Housing agencies will be able to use this funding to test public housing properties for radon. When needed, they will also be able to apply mitigation measures in their communities. The grants will be allocated in the early summer. The NOFA’s estimated application deadline in March 28. 2022.

HUD’s press release can be found here.

The full NOFA 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.