New, Updated Emergency Rental Assistance Guidance Issued

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

HUD Updates Demolition and Disposition Notice

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.

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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Thirdhand Smoke Informational Webinar

NAHRO from time-to-time shares information and webinars from affordable housing partners. Today we are sharing an upcoming webinar from the Thirdhand Smoke Resource Center.

Thirdhand Smoke:
What Every Property Manager Needs to Know

Thursday, October 15, 2020, 2:00-3:00 pm PST
The webinar is free to participants.
REGISTER NOW!

Many property managers are all too familiar with complaints about secondhand smoke and the smell and discoloration left behind in the units of smokers. But did you know that this smell and discoloration is the result of the toxic residue left behind by tobacco smoke and it has negative health effects? Also known as thirdhand smoke, this toxic residue sticks to carpets, doors, furniture, walls, and other surfaces and materials and can remain for years after secondhand smoke has disappeared. How much do you know about thirdhand smoke? How prepared are you to prevent toxic thirdhand smoke? How prepared are you to deal with thirdhand smoke that has built up in an apartment?

This webinar will explain why it is so difficult to remove thirdhand smoke once it has become established and will focus on successful strategies to prevent thirdhand smoke in multiunit housing, with plenty of time for discussion with our panelists!

Webinar topics include:

  1. Thirdhand smoke: origins, constituents, routes of exposure, remediation
  2. Regulatory approaches to prevention of thirdhand smoke in multiunit housing
  3. Policy approaches to prevention of thirdhand smoke in multiunit housing
  4. Strategies for overcoming resistance: Successes, challenges, and resource

Thank you for sharing this invitation with property managers and owners!

Today – NAHRO Webinar: The Impact of the CDC Eviction Moratorium on PHAs

NAHRO is hosting a webinar on the recently publish CDC order stopping most non-payment of rent evictions in the United States. The webinar is today, September 8, 2020 at 2pm eastern time. Click here to register. This webinar is complimentary for NAHRO members and $25 for non-member. More information on the benefits of NAHRO membership is available here.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have issued an order stopping most residential evictions for non-payment of rent through the end of 2020. What does this mean for Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) and their residents? Join the NAHRO team and Housing Development Law Institute (HDLI) staff as they provide a breakdown of the CDC order and discuss how it may affect the day-to-day operations of PHAs’ housing programs.

This webinar is the first of our complimentary member benefit series – monthly online sessions that will tackle hot topics, provide opportunities to hear from your peers in the field, and feature networking events to keep you connected. Keep an eye on our training calendar – more information will be coming soon!

Click here to register for today’s webinar!

CDC Publishes Order Halting Residential Evictions

On late Tuesday afternoon, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced an order to stop residential evictions to halt the spread of COVID-19. The order is currently scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on September 4. It becomes effective on publication and will last until December 31, 2020, unless extended.

The order notes that as of late August, there have been over 23 million cases of COVID-19 globally, resulting in over 800,000 deaths. It also states that, domestically, there have been over 5.5 million cases, which have resulted in over 174,000 deaths. Given the “historic threat to public health,” the order notes that “[e]viction moratoria facilitate self-isolation by people who become ill or who are at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 due to an underlying medical condition.” The order also notes that eviction moratoria help implement stay-at-home and social distancing orders, while also preventing homelessness which “increases the likelihood of individuals moving into close quarters in congregate settings, such as homeless shelters, which then puts individuals at higher risk of COVID-19.”

The order institutes a temporary eviction moratorium. It states that a “landlord . . . shall not evict any covered person from any residential property in any State or U.S. territory” in which there are COVID-19 cases. The term “covered person” includes any tenant who states—under the penalty of perjury—to their landlord, owner, or other person with the power to evict that the following conditions have been met:

  • The person has used their best efforts to obtain available government assistance for rent or housing;
  • The person meets any of the following three criteria:
    • The person does not expect to earn more than $99,000 in annual income in calendar year (CY) 2020 (or more than $198,000 for joint tax returns);
    • The person was not required to report any income in 2019 to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS); or
    • The person received a “stimulus check” under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act;
  • The person is unable to pay the full rent or make a full housing payment due to loss of compensable hours of work, a lay-off, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses;
  • The person is making “best efforts” to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as possible; and
  • Eviction would render the individual homeless or force the individual to live in close quarters in a new congregate or shared living setting.

Despite the order, individuals are still obligated to pay rent or make applicable payments. The order does not prevent charging or collecting fees, penalties, and interest for late payments. Tenants may still be evicted for the following:

  • Engaging in criminal activity on the premises;
  • Threatening the health or safety of other residents;
  • Damaging or posing an immediate and significant risk of damage to property;
  • Violating any applicable building code, health ordinance, or similar regulation relating to health and safety; or
  • Violating any other contractual obligation (other than late fees, penalties, or interest).

This order does not apply in certain areas. It does not apply in any “State, local, territorial, or tribal area with a moratorium on residential evictions that provides the same or greater level of public-health protection.” Additionally, the order does not apply in American Samoa—which has no reported cases—unless cases develop.

The order is not a rule as defined in the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), but is an “emergency action.” If it did qualify as a rule, the order notes that there is still “good cause” to dispense with the regular notice-and-comment process because of the public-health emergency.

There are certain criminal penalties for violating this order. A person violating the order may be subject to a fine of $100,000, one year of jail, both a fine and jail, or another lawful penalty, if the violation does not result in a death. If the violation results in a death, the person violating the order may be subject to a fine of $250,000, one year of jail, both a fine and jail, or other lawful penalty. An organization violating this order may be subject to $200,000 per event, if the violation does not lead to a death and $500,000 per event if the violation results in death. The Department of Health and Human Services is authorized to cooperate with and aid state and local authorities to authorize this order.

The order includes a declaration for tenants. A tenant must provide a copy of the declaration to their landlord, owner, or other individual who has the right to evict. Each adult listed on the lease must complete the declaration. The declaration must be true under a penalty of perjury.

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

NAHRO continues to encourage Public Housing Authorities (PHAs), Section 8 landlords, and tenants to work together to minimize the financial impact of COVID-19. Tenants should contact their PHA notifying them of any reduction of income due to the pandemic. Landlords and PHAs should reach out and coordinate with tenants concerning unpaid rent. Best practices in preventing evictions include repayment agreements, retroactive recertifications and proactive communication with tenants.

Below are links to HUD and NAHRO eviction prevention resources:

Our advocacy must continue to ensure adequate resources that support your programs and provides rent relief for unassisted families. Use the NAHRO Advocacy Action Alert Center to send letters to your members of Congress and the Administration and let them know the critical role quality house and rental assistance plays as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Signs Executive Order on Assistance to Renters and Homeowners

On August 8, President Trump signed an executive order titled “Executive Order on Fighting the Spread of COIVD-19 by Providing Assistance to Renters and Homeowners.” This Executive Order (EO) was signed after the negotiations on a fourth COVID-19 legislative relief package broke down.

The EO states, “[i]t is the policy of the United States to minimize, to the greatest extent possible, residential evictions and foreclosures during the ongoing COVID-19 national emergency.” Specifically it directs the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) “to promote the ability of renters and homeowners to avoid eviction or foreclosure” through actions that “may include encouraging and providing assistance to public housing authorities, affordable housing owners, landlords, and recipients of Federal grant funds in minimizing evictions and foreclosures.” The agencies of HUD and Treasury are also directed to “identify any and all available Federal funds to provide temporary financial assistance to renters and homeowners.” Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “shall consider whether any measures temporarily halting residential evictions . . . are reasonably necessary to prevent further spread of COVID-19.”

This Executive Order, in and of itself, does not specifically extend nor create an eviction moratorium nor does it create a new rental or homeowner assistance program. This Executive Order instructs the executive branch of government – specifically Health and Human Services; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Treasury; Housing and Urban Development; and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) – to assess their current resources and tools related to renters and homeowners affected by COVID-19.

NAHRO continues to encourage Public Housing Authorities (PHAs), Section 8 landlords, and tenants to work together to minimize the financial impact of COVID-19. Tenants should contact their PHA notifying them of any reduction of income due to the pandemic. Landlords and PHAs should reach out and coordinate with tenants concerning unpaid rent. Best practices in preventing evictions include repayment agreements, retroactive recertifications and proactive communication with tenants.

Below are links to HUD and NAHRO eviction prevention resources:

Our advocacy must continue to ensure adequate resources that support your programs and provides rent relief for unassisted families. Use the NAHRO Advocacy Action Alert Center to send letters to your members of Congress and the Administration and let them know the critical role quality house and rental assistance plays as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Homeland Security’s Public Charge Rule Implementation Stopped!

On July 29, 2020, Judge George B. Daniels of the U.S District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a preliminary injunction and temporary stay of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Public Charge rule. Judge Daniels’ order provides that DHS and U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) can not enforce, apply, implement, or treat as effective the Public Charge rule as long as “there is a declared national health emergency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.”

The preliminary injunction and temporary stay applies nationwide as Judge Daniels wrote, “Each infected individual that travels to Governmental Plaintiffs’ jurisdiction [States of New York, Connecticut, and Vermont; and City of New York] risks undoing crucial progress made in combating this disease. Discouraging noncitizens nationwide from obtaining necessary treatment and care certainly undermines those efforts. Issuing geographically limited relief would not meaningfully abate the public health risk, especially when applied to a population that represents a significant portion of essential workers who continue to work outside of their homes ans interact with the public at large.”

The Public Charge rule, that defined public charge to include individuals receiving federal housing benefits, took effect February 24, 2020; after previous injunctions and stays were lifted by the U.S. Supreme Court. It is anticipated that Judge Daniels’ preliminary injunction and temporary stay order will also be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The July 29, 2020 order can be view here. NAHRO’s Public Charge One-Pager provides additional information on the DHS Public Charge rule. NAHRO will continue to follow the implementation of DHS’s Public Charge rule and share additional information as we receive it.

How COVID-19 Sheds New Light on Lung Health and Smoke-Free Public Housing Webinar – Aug. 12 at 2pm EST

Clean Air for All invites you to join us for a complimentary upcoming webinar: How COVID-19 Sheds New Light on Lung Health and Smoke-Free Public Housing. We will discuss ways COVID-19 has impacted smoke-free public housing, learn about the link between smoking, secondhand smoke exposure, and COVID-19, and share resources and strategies to help PHAs manage smoke-free housing during the pandemic.

We are honored to be joined by Dr. Brian King, Deputy Director for Research Translation for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for this discussion.

Webinar Objectives:

  • Describe the state of the science with regard to smoking, secondhand smoke exposure and COVID-19.
  • Illustrate ways the COVID-19 pandemic may impact smoke-free public housing and discuss potential adaptive strategies.
  • Outline existing resources to help public health authorities (PHA) improve smoke-free policies.
  • List smoking cessation support resources for public housing authorities (PHA).

Register today for our How COVID-19 Sheds New Light on Lung Health and Smoke-Free Public Housing Webinar!

Clean Air for All: The Smoke-Free Public Housing Project is a collaboration of Live Smoke Free (LSF) a program of the Association for Nonsmokers – Minnesota and the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO). This project is made possible with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

CARES Act Eviction Moratorium Ends This Week, Eviction Prevention Resources

Section 4024 of the CARES Act stopped non-payment of rent evictions (and stopped imposing fees and penalties for non-payment of rent) for 120 days beginning on March 27 for many tenants receiving Federal rental assistance including the Public Housing, Housing Choice Voucher, and Project-Based Voucher programs. The 120-day eviction moratorium expires this Saturday, July 25, meaning Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) and landlords may begin issuing 30-day notices to vacate for non-payment of rent after July 25, 2020.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has encouraged tenants, landlords, and PHAs to work together to minimize the impact of the CARES Act eviction moratorium ending. Tenants should contact their PHA notifying them of any reduction of income due to the pandemic. Landlords and PHAs should reach out and coordinate with tenants concerning unpaid rent, including potential repayment agreements. PHAs should also consider implementing retroactive recertifications and informing their tenants of their availability.

Below are links to HUD and NAHRO eviction moratorium and eviction prevention resources:

NAHRO continues to provide the latest housing related COVID-19 information at www.nahro.org/coronavirus.