Join Us!! NAHRO Summer Symposium is Tomorrow!

Please join National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) for our 2021 Summer Symposium on universal vouchers and expansion of the housing voucher program tomorrow, July 13, 2021. There is no cost to attend the NAHRO Summer Symposium! Register at https://www.nahro.org/events/summer-symposium/registration/.

The NAHRO Summer Symposium is a day-long event on the present and future of the Housing Choice Voucher program. The event will bring thought leaders from across the country along with housing industry professional together to discuss the expansion of the housing voucher program. There is no registration fee to attend the Summer Symposium. Anyone interested can register at https://www.nahro.org/events/summer-symposium/registration/ for the July 13, 2021 NAHRO Summer Symposium.

White House Summit on Eviction Prevention Best Practices

At a White House summit on eviction prevention, researchers and experts in the field shared resources and best practices from around the country.

After outlining documented long-term health and economic impacts of evictions, Matthew Desmond, director of the Eviction Lab at Princeton, focused on the problems present in eviction courts. Since so few municipalities guarantee families facing an eviction the right to counsel, many families simply don’t show up because they don’t think they can win. Labeling eviction courts those without “justice or fairness,” Desmond called for advocates to focus three alternate approaches:

  1. Advocacy – including the right to counsel, with either a lawyer or a caseworker
  2. Assistance – wraparound social services
  3. Alternative Processes – eviction diversion  

Desmond urged advocates to focus as much as possible on early stage interventions, because a third of families move between notice and filing, court records can follow families and make it harder to move into a good home, and because families can still end up moving or being harmed by court proceedings without an official eviction. Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta also recommended that state courts consider issuing orders requiring landlords to apply for emergency rental assistance before filing, and alerting litigants about availability of rental assistance.  

To help stand up new eviction diversion programs that include these three pieces, the National Center for State Courts has developed an eviction diversion program that offers models, resources, and technical assistance here. Multiple administration officials repeated in today’s summit that Treasury made it clear that the $350 billion from the American Rescue Plan can be used for court-supported eviction diversion programs.

Best Practices

Experts from the field then shared their knowledge about how to make these programs work in practice. Rasheedah Phillips, Managing Attorney of Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bridget Mary McCormack both recommended that diversion programs need a right to counsel or other tenant representation. Philadelphia passed a right to counsel law in 2019, and uses trained mediators, housing counselors, and legal representation depending on tenant need. However, Michigan has only included a right to counsel in its emergency diversion program for COVID, and it has made a significant difference in both application rates and successful cases. Prior to this program, only 4% of tenants in Detroit had representation in eviction cases.

Philadelphia has also recently passed the Renters Access Act, which prohibits landlords from rejecting potential tenants solely because of evictions or low credit scores, prohibits rejections based on failure to pay rent or utility bills during the pandemic, and requires landlords to inform potential tenants why they were rejected.

From the landlord perspective, Gilbert Winn of WinnCompanies, which houses over 45,000 tenants in more than 15 states, spoke about the program his company launched to prevent evictions, which WinnCompanies believes can serve as a blueprint for other landlords going forward. This included:

  • Long-term, sustainable payment agreements to have backpay addressed
  • Pre-court checklist before any staff can file for eviction
  • Incentives to property staff and property legal counsel to lower eviction filings

With zero evictions in the last 15 months with all 15,000 participating families, the program has been extremely successful, and WinnCompanies intends to use it into the post-pandemic period.

More resources on eviction prevention can be found here.

Mobility Demonstration PHAs selected

In a press release, HUD has selected PHAs to participate in its new mobility demonstration. The mobility demonstration serves as a research evaluation to demonstrate the efficacy of a bundle of mobility-related interventions (i.e., services offered to families that help remove barriers moving to areas of opportunity). Recent research has shown that moving to areas of opportunity has positive impacts on health and the future lifetime earnings of children.

Program participants will be divided into three groups: a control group; a treatment group which receives comprehensive mobility-related services; and a second treatment group which receives selected mobility related-services. The Department, PHAs, and researchers will then evaluate the efficacy and cost of the bundles of mobility-related services provided.

The PHAs selected for the demonstration can be found below.

PHA CodePHA NameTotal Mobility-related Services AwardTotal Vouchers AwardedTotal Voucher Funding Awarded
NY041Rochester Housing Authority$4,089,54074$724,106
NY110New York Housing Preservation and Development$4,013,10074$1,501,480
MN002Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (Lead PHA)$4,013,10037$637,341
MN163Metropolitan HRAPartner to MN00237$585,649
CA004Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles$4,013,10037$812,372
CA002Housing Authority of the County of Los AngelesPartner to CA00437$761,339
PA006Allegheny County Housing Authority$4,089,54056$565,805
PA001Housing Authority of PittsburghPartner to PA00618$249,419
OH003Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority$4,089,54074$881,419
LA001Housing Authority of New Orleans$4,089,54074$1,114,333
PA046Housing Authority of Chester County$3,461,85018$249,803
PA007Chester Housing AuthorityPartner to PA04656$803,120
TN005Metropolitan Housing and Redevelopment$4,013,10074$971,554
Total$35,872,410666$9,857,740
Taken from https://www.hud.gov/press/press_releases_media_advisories/HUD_No_21_076.

The Department’s full press release can be found here.

Reminder: Mobility Webinar Today at 2 pm ET

The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials with our friends, CLPHA, is sponsoring a free webinar on HUD’s new mobility demonstration put on by Mobility Works, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and Opportunity Insights. The free webinar is at 2 pm ET today. Registration for the free webinar can be found here.

On July 15, HUD released a notice implementing the $50 million Housing Choice Voucher Mobility Demonstration. This important demonstration will enable selected public housing agencies to implement or expand programs that help families to use housing vouchers to locate in “high-opportunity” neighborhoods, which research shows can significantly improve adult and child well-being on several key measures, including children’s chances of attending college.

Housing agencies participating in the program will receive new housing vouchers as well as funding to provide robust mobility services to families with children. Agencies will also participate in a rigorous evaluation of the effectiveness of their mobility programs.

Please join us for this free webinar on August 11, 2020 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm ET to discuss the details of HUD’s demonstration notice, as well as the lessons that experienced practitioners and researchers have learned about developing effective housing mobility programs.

AGENDA

Moderator, Demetria McCain, Inclusive Communities Project

I. The requirements of the HUD NOFA:
● Doug Rice, Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
● Megan Haberle, Deputy Director, Poverty & Race Research and Action Council

II. Developing a regional housing mobility plan:
● Andrea Juracek, Executive Director, Housing Choice Partners
● Jeffery Patterson, CEO of the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority

III. Reflections on working with researchers on a mobility evaluation:
● Sarah Oppenheimer, Opportunity Insights
● Andrew Lofton, Seattle Housing Authority

Registration for the free webinar can be found here.

NAHRO’s New Housing Proposals Focus on the Future

The nation’s public housing agencies and community development agencies have been housing our nation’s families and creating vibrant, stable communities for decades. And they’re continuing to do this vital work of providing shelter, creating opportunity, and addressing inequities during a pandemic that’s straining both local and national resources.

But even as we continue to cope with the fallout of COVID-19, we must also work on solutions for both current and future housing needs. We need new housing construction, more resources for existing housing programs, and flexibilities that prioritize progress over paperwork. NAHRO’s What Happens Next: Housing Beyond the Pandemic provides funding and policy proposals that will:

  • Increase housing supply and improve affordability
  • Preserve existing affordable housing
  • Stabilize families, and
  • Prioritize progress over paperwork.

The paper is available here.

Chetty Study Offers Guide to Move Families to High-Upward-Mobility Areas

Opportunity Insights–a Harvard-based group of researchers and policy analysts, including economist Raj Chetty, who analyze data to help stakeholders make more informed policy decisions–has published a paper titled “Creating Moves to Opportunity: Experimental Evidence on Barriers to Neighborhood Choice.” The researchers, working in cooperation with the Seattle Housing Authority and King County Housing Authority, found that when families received the Creating Moves to Opportunity treatment (the treatment consisted of customized search assistance, landlord engagement, and short-term financial assistance), the fraction of families who moved to high-upward-mobility areas increased by forty percent between a control group and a treatment group.

Findings

The researchers found several insights during the course of their work. First, they found that in the Seattle area, Creating Moves to Opportunity (CMTO) interventions increased the fraction of families who moved to high-upward-mobility areas by forty percent between a control group and a treatment group. The researchers also found that utilization rates among groups remained the same (i.e., those families that chose to move to high-upward-mobility areas were able to use their vouchers at the same rate as the control group); all families across racial and ethnic groups benefited from the treatment; and families in opportunity areas were more satisfied with their new neighborhoods. The researchers also found that the customized manner of providing services according to each family’s need was crucial. Finally, the researchers found that other policy interventions such as higher payment standards (e.g., Small Area Fair Market Rents [SAFMR]) by themselves or providing additional rental information in a standardized manner were not effective. Indeed, on page 38 of the study, the researchers write “[o]ur analysis . . . shows that raising payment standards in more expensive neighborhoods —  as is typically done in SAFMR policies — does not necessarily induce families to move to higher-opportunity areas.”

Services Offered

The CMTO services consisted of three prongs (see pages 12 and 13 of the study):

  1. Search Assistance (page 12);
    1. Information about high-opportunity areas and the benefits of moving to such areas for families with young children;
    2. Help in making rental applications more competitive by preparing rental documents and addressing issues in credit and rental history; and
    3. Search assistance to help families identify available units, connect with landlords in opportunity areas, and complete the application process;
  2. Increased Landlord Engagement (page 13);
    1. Explaining to landlords in high-opportunity areas the program and encouraging them to lease their units;
    2. Damage mitigation fund to cover possible damages to a unit not included in the security deposit (up to $2,000);
    3. Expedited lease-up process for landlords through fast inspections and streamlined paperwork;
  3. Short-term Financial Assistance (page 13);
    1. Funds for application screening fees, security deposits, and other expenses that stood in the way of lease-up;
    2. Payments were customized by staff to address the specific impediments a family faced; and
    3. On average families received $1,070 for these payments.

The researchers stressed that these services were tailored to meet the needs of individual families.

Defining Opportunity Areas

Opportunity areas were defined using Census tracts that have upward mobility in approximately the top third of the distribution across tracts within Seattle and King County. The definitions were adjusted to provide for contiguous areas and to take into account changes in neighborhoods. They were defined using data from the Opportunity Atlas.

Slides on the study can be found here.

A non-technical summary can be found here.

The full study can be found here.

 

FMR Methodology Changes Under Consideration

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is proposing to change the methodology used for estimating fair market rents. Fair market rents (FMRs) are used as the basis for payment standards which determine the maximum level of assistance in the housing choice voucher program. They are also used by certain other programs. The Department’s FMRs are set at a level that should allow a program participant to afford to rent a unit for approximately 40 percent of an area’s standard quality stock.

The Department is updating the methodology for calculating FMRs because in the past it has received comments stating that “FMRs need to incorporate more local and more timely data.” In its comments on the fiscal year (FY) 2019 FMRs, NAHRO recommended that HUD use more timely data when calculating FMRs, fund local research surveys, and continue to refine its methodology for calculating FMRs. Additionally, the Senate Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations subcommittee, in report language, urged HUD to improve its FMR estimates to “better reflect the rent inflation that occurs between the time that American Community Survey data is collected and the fiscal year for which the FMRs are produced.”

Comments on the updated process are due in 30 days. (6/5/19 edit – Comments are due by July 5, 2019.)

Click below to read more.

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HUD to Host MTW Expansion Call on Wednesday (4/17/19) for Eligible Cohort #1 Agencies

In its effort to publicize the Moving to Work (MTW) Expansion, HUD will host a call dedicated to potential cohort #1 applicants this Wednesday (4/17/19). This is in addition to NAHRO’s complementary MTW application webinars. Relevant details on the call, provided by a HUD official, can be found below:

On Wednesday, April 17th from 3-4PM EDT the MTW Team will hold a conference call for all agencies eligible for MTW Cohort 1. Please join the call to get any questions you may have regarding MTW Cohort 1 and/or the application process answered.

The conference begins at 3:00 PM Eastern Time on April 17, 2019; you may join the conference 5 minutes prior.

Dial-in: 1-877-369-5243 or 1-617-668-3633
Access Code: 0397071##

Need an international dial-in number?

Need technical assistance? Call the AT&T Help Desk at 1-888-796-6118 or 1-847-562-7015.

New Evidence Matters Focuses on Landlords and Vouchers

The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) Winter 2019 issue of Evidence Matters focuses on landlords and their role in the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program. The issue has three articles which provide insight into different aspects of landlord behavior and landlord retention. The first article offers an overview of the HCV program; provides a description of the nation’s rental units and its landlords; provides a broad overview of recent research on landlords; provides an overview of research on the impacts of low landlord participation; and offers strategies to increase landlord participation. The second article, again, discusses research on landlords and voucher acceptance. The third article discusses strategies that two PHAs are using to incentivize landlord participation.

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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.