Late on Feb. 25, 2021, Judge J. Campbell Barker of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas ruled, in a 21-page order, that the eviction moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is unconstitutional. Meaning the Federal government does not have the constitutional authority to issue the CDC eviction moratorium. The US Justice Department, attorneys for the CDC, argued that the federal government did have the authority to enact an eviction moratorium through Article 1 of the US Constitution’s power to enact laws necessary and proper to regulate interstate commerce. The Court was not convinced by this argument and ruled against the federal government. The Court did acknowledge that landlord-tenant relationship can be regulated by state law.
Even though the CDC Eviction Moratorium was ruled unconstitutional, Judge Barker did not issue an injunction stopping the effect of the eviction moratorium. Therefore, the CDC Eviction Moratorium is still in place and effective at the time of this writing. The Justice Department released a statement on Saturday, February 27, 2021 “respectfully” disagreeing with the Court’s decision and further stating that “the [Justice] Department has appealed that decision.”
NAHRO will continue to monitor the court activity surrounding the CDC Eviction Moratorium and will provide additional updates as warranted.
The U.S. Department of Treasury (Treasury) has released new and updated frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) that was created by the December 27, 2020 omnibus appropriations act. These new February 22, 2021 dated FAQs replace in their entirety the previously issued January 19, 2021 FAQs.
NAHRO commends Treasury for the new FAQs, as they provide much-needed clear and reasonable guidance on the ERAP. NAHRO has been in contact with Treasury on numerous occasions to ensure that PHAs and their residents are served by the ERAP. On January 25, 2021, NAHRO sent a letter to the Treasury and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development outlining our concerns with the January 19, 2021 FAQs, and the new FAQs address many of NAHRO’s concerns. These new FAQs are a major step forward for PHAs in meeting their COVID-19 housing needs of HUD-assisted residents.
Below are a number of the key guidance points provided by the February 22, 2021 FAQs:
- Federally assisted tenants (Public Housing, Housing Choice Voucher, & Project-Based Rental Assistance) are eligible for ERAP assistance for the tenant-owed portion of rent and utilities that are not subsidized.
- Tenants may document their financial hardship due to COVID-19 (unemployment benefits, reduction of income, significant costs, or other COVID-19 financial hardship) by written attestation signed by the tenant that one or more household members meet this eligibility criteria.
- Tenant household income is defined by using either HUD’s “annual income” definition in 24 CFR 5.609 or adjusted gross income reported on an Internal Revenue Service Form 1040 series.
- “Other expenses related to housing” examples are provided. The examples include but are not limited to:
- relocation expenses and rental fees (if a household has been temporarily or permanently displaced due to the COVID-19 outbreak);
- reasonable accrued late fees (if not included in rental or utility arrears and if incurred due to COVID-19); and
- Internet service provided to the rental unit.
- Outreach to landlords and utility providers must be done before providing the funds directly to the tenant. Outreach can be done using the following methods:
- a request for participation is sent in writing, by mail, to the landlord or utility provider, and the addressee does not respond to the request within 14 calendar days after mailing;
- the grantee has made at least three attempts by phone, text, or e-mail over a 10 calendar-day period to request the landlord or utility provider’s participation; or
- a landlord confirms in writing that the landlord does not wish to participate.
- PHAs, non-profit organizations, and local governments may operate ERAP programs through contractor, subrecipient, or intergovernmental cooperation agreements with the primary grantee at the state or local jurisdiction level. These agreements must meet monitoring and management requirements of 2 CFR 200.331-200.333 and procurement standards of 2 CFR 200.317-200.327.
These are just a few of the answers in the new FAQs. The full FAQs are available on the NAHRO website’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program page. The Emergency Rental Assistance Program, including these FAQs, will be a focus of the 2021 NAHRO Online Washington Conference’s Treasury Affordable Housing Program and Washington Report sessions on March 2, 2021. Click here to register for the 2021 NAHRO Online Washington Conference.
In late-Jan., HUD updated the CARES Act Reporting Answers to Frequently Asked Questions for PHAs document. It has been updated to version 2. The document provides clarifications on CARES act fund usage, continuing to track COVID expenses after CARES act fund usage, reporting requirements, and other items.
The full document can be found here.
Earlier today, the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department made available a pre-publication copy of an order extending the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) eviction moratorium. The eviction moratorium has been extended to March 31, 2021. Additionally, the order now also applies to American Samoa–although it had not previously–because COVID-19 cases have now been reported there.
NAHRO members will receive additional information on this order.
A pre-publication copy of the order can be found here.
Earlier today, HUD published PIH 2021-07, titled “Demolition and/or disposition of public housing property, eligibility for tenant-protection vouchers, and associated requirements.” This notice updates PIH 2018-04, which was the prior demolition and disposition notice.
The new notice makes several non-substantive and substantive revisions to the prior notice. Non-substantive revisions include clarifying headings, adding spacing between paragraphs, re-numbering paragraphs, and correcting citations to regulatory provisions, which make for a clearer document. Substantive changes in this notice include the following:
- HUD’s Special Applications Center (SAC) no longer claims to return a SAC application that is substantially incomplete or deficient, while informing a PHA of its deficiencies (previously, SAC would “return” the application by changing the status of the application to DRAFT in the Inventory Management System/PIH Information Center [IMS/PIC]);
- The Department clarifies that PHAs must not just make resident consultation accessible, but rather that “PHAs must ensure that communications and materials are accessible to individuals with disabilities and take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to persons with Limited English Proficiency (LEP)”;
- Use of proceeds is no longer a material term of the SAC application, so if a PHA’s plan on the use of proceeds changes after HUD approval of an application, a PHA would no longer have to request an amendment to the application;
- Includes new RAD/Section 18 blends;
- RAD/Section 18 Construction Blend – the percentage of units eligible for disposition is based on hard construction costs for new construction or rehabilitation of the covered project. Transactions that use the 9 percent Low-Income Housing Tax Credit are not eligible.
- If hard construction costs equal 90 percent of the Housing Construction Costs (HCC) as published by HUD for a given market area, the PHA may dispose of up to 60 percent of the units of the converting project under Section 18;
- For high-cost areas (HCC exceeds 120 percent of the national average), a PHA may dispose of up to 80 percent of the units of the converting project under Section 18;
- If the hard construction costs equal or exceed 60 percent, but are less than 90 percent, of HCC, the a PHA may dispose of up to 40 percent of the units of the converting project under Section 18;
- If the hard construction costs equal or exceed 30 percent, but are less than 60 percent, of HCC the PHA may dispose of up to 20 percent of the units of the converting project under Section 18;
- RAD/Section 18 Small PHA Blend – for any PHA with 250 or fewer public housing units under its Annual Contributions Contract (ACC), up to 80 percent of the units in a converting project may be disposed of under Section 18;
- The Department clarifies that tenant-protection voucher (TPV) requests first go to the field office for a threshold review before being sent to HUD’s Financial Management Division (FMD), while HUD’s Financial Management Center (FMC) notifies PHAs of the final TPV awards.
The full notice can be found here.
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.
Assistant Secretary of Public and Indian Housing Hunter Kurtz has resigned from his position, effective at the close of business today.
In an email to housing authority executive directors, Mr. Kurtz wrote: “Being the Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing and working with you over the past 18 months has truly been the greatest honor and privilege of my life. During this time, we have done incredible work, in some of the most challenging times our industry has faced. Most importantly we helped the residents of our programs prepare for and respond to a virus, that disproportionately affected the people we serve.”
NAHRO has had a strong working relationship with Assistant Secretary Kurtz.
“He is a thoughtful leader who cares deeply for HUD programs, our public housing and Indian housing agencies, and the people who they serve,” said NAHRO CEO Adrianne Todman. “We are grateful for his work and wish him the best.”
Mr. Kurtz was confirmed on June 20, 2019. He has spent more than 10 years in federal service. He previously served as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing, and also served in the White House as the Deputy Chief of Staff at the Council of Economic Advisers.
He was also previously the Deputy Director of Detroit’s Department of Housing and Revitalization, where he managed the department’s day-to-day operations, implemented programs that helped homeowners, and oversaw reform of the department’s contract and procurement processes.
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.
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.
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.