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

NAHRO & NLC Webinar on Eviction Prevention and Emergency Rental Assistance Program – Feb 18 @ 12:30pm ET

NAHRO and the National League of Cities are teaming up to bring their members critical information on eviction prevention strategies and the Treasury Department’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). The complimentary webinar will take place on Thursday, Feb. 18 at 12:30 pm ET. Registration information can be found here.

The webinar will also discuss the upcoming reconciliation process the new COVID-19 relief package will take through Congress, as well as an overview of eviction prevention strategies cities and community partners are implementing in the midst of COVID-19, and highlights of resources to prevent housing instability.

Information on ERAP is changing rapidly, and it is important for PHAs that want to partner with their State and/or local jurisdiction to be up to date. Join the NAHRO and NLC teams to hear the latest information on ERAP, including information on family eligibility and eligible use, along with an update on how the new administration plans on implementing the program. We will also be joined by a PHA that will share how their housing authority has partnered with the local jurisdiction to provide local emergency rental assistance.

The NARHO and NLC teams look forward to sharing this important information! Register Now for the important webinar.

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.

Social Security Recipients Do Not Need to File a Tax Return to Receive COVID-19 Relief Payments

NAHRO has reviewed a press release from the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that announces Social Security beneficiaries will automatically receive their Economic Impact Payments. This announcement will allow many seniors and low-income individuals, that have not filed a tax return, to receive their Economic Impact Payment without requesting it. There was a previous concern that Social Security recipients, that did not file a tax return in 2018 or 2019, would have to file a special simple tax return to receive their Economic Impact Payment.

NAHRO is maintaining a coronavirus resource page at www.nahro.org/coronavirus. The Treasury Department and IRS press release is reprinted below and is available at home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm967.

Social Security Recipients Will Automatically Receive Economic Impact Payments

April 1, 2020

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service today announced that Social Security beneficiaries who are not typically required to file tax returns will not need to file an abbreviated tax return to receive an Economic Impact Payment. Instead, payments will be automatically deposited into their bank accounts.

“We want to ensure that our senior citizens, individuals with disabilities, and low-income Americans receive Economic Impact Payments quickly and without undue burden,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “Social Security recipients who are not typically required to file a tax return need to take no action, and will receive their payment directly to their bank account.”

The IRS will use the information on the Form SSA-1099 and Form RRB-1099 to generate $1,200 Economic Impact Payments to Social Security recipients who did not file tax returns in 2018 or 2019. Recipients will receive these payments as a direct deposit or by paper check, just as they would normally receive their benefits.

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Census Day is Today!!

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April 1, 2020 is Census Day and NAHRO would like to share the Census Day press release from the United States Census Bureau. An accurate count is essential to ensure the maximum amount of funding and resources are available to your local community!

Census Day Is Here – Make It Count!

April 1, 2020 – Today is Census Day, the day that determines who is counted in the 2020 Census and where they are counted.

The U.S. Constitution mandates a census of the population every 10 years. Responding to the 2020 Census is easy, safe and important, and is key to shaping the future of communities. Census statistics are used to determine the number of seats each state holds in the U.S. House of Representatives and informs legislative district boundaries. They also inform how hundreds of billions of dollars in public funds are allocated by state, local and federal lawmakers to communities for public services and infrastructure like hospitals, emergency services, schools and bridges each year over the next 10 years.

36.2 percent of households across the nation have responded to the 2020 Census since invitations began arriving in mailboxes March 12-20. Response rates are updated in the map daily seven days a week so that the public can see how well their community is doing compared to the nation and other areas.

The Census Bureau is strongly encouraging the public to respond to the 2020 Census online using a desktop computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet. You can respond online or by phone in English or 12 other languages. There are also 59 non-English language guides and videos (plus American Sign Language) available on 2020census.gov ensuring over 99% of U.S. households can respond online in their preferred language. It has never been easier to respond on your own — all without having to meet a census taker. This is really important with the current health and safety guidance being provided by national, state and local health authorities.

When you respond:

  • Respond for where you live as of April 1 (Census Day).
  • Include everyone who usually lives and sleeps in your home as of April 1, even if they are staying somewhere else temporarily. This includes relatives, friends, roommates and anyone else who lives and sleeps in your home most of the time — even children under age five and babies born on or before April 1, even if they are still in the hospital.
  • Count college students where they live while attending school. If they live on campus in university/college housing such as dorms or fraternity/sorority houses, they will be counted by school officials and do not need to respond. However, if they live off campus in private housing or apartments, they should respond to the census on their own using their off-campus address even if they are currently staying elsewhere.
  • Find additional answers about “Who to Count” at 2020census.gov.

You can use the Census ID from your invitation or provide your address when you respond. Then, please make sure your friends, family and social networks know about the importance of responding and encourage them to complete their census. Responding now will minimize the need for a census taker to follow up and visit your home later this year.

Some households — in areas less likely to respond online — have already received a paper questionnaire along with their first invitation. Households that have not responded online or by phone will receive a paper questionnaire April 8-16.

For more information, visit 2020census.gov.

Please note: Based on continuing assessments of guidance from federal, state and local health authorities, the Census Bureau is suspending 2020 Census field operations for two additional weeks to April 15, 2020. The Census Bureau is taking this step to help protect the health and safety of the American public, Census Bureau employees, and everyone who will go through the hiring process for temporary census taker positions. The Census Bureau continues to evaluate all 2020 Census field operations, and will communicate any further updates as soon as possible.

The 2020 Census is open for self-response online at 2020Census.gov, over the phone by calling the number provided in your invitation, and by paper through the mail.

Join Us Tomorrow for Part 2 of Our Virtual Convening!

Session 2 Speakers
Left to right: Dr. Raphael Bostic, Dr. Mark Calabria, NAHRO President Sunny Shaw, and NAHRO CEO Adrianne Todman.

Thank you to everyone who joined us earlier today to hear Dr. Raphael Bostic, the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, discuss inclusive economic development and the bank’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. 

We hope you can join us for the second part of our virtual convening tomorrow – on Tuesday, March 31, from 3:30-4:30 p.m. EDT. Our special guest, Dr. Mark Calabria, Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, will discuss FHFA’s mission, its role in the housing sector, and his thoughts on the impact of COVID-19.

Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, NAHRO remains committed to connecting you with industry leaders and important perspectives. In lieu of our cancelled Washington Conference, we’re glad to be able to invite you to this complimentary virtual convening, sponsored by Yardi.

We look forward to connecting with you!

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Opportunity Zone Hearing on February 14 at 10am

The Treasury department has announced that on February 14 at 10am a public hearing will be held on proposed regulations concerning investing in qualified opportunity funds (QOF). February 14 is the new date for the Opportunity Zone public hearing that was originally scheduled for January 10 but was canceled due to the lapse in Federal appropriations.

The public hearing will focus on the proposed regulations that provide guidance under new section 1400Z-2 of the Internal Revenue Code (Code) relating to gains that may be deferred as a result of a taxpayer’s investment in a qualified opportunity fund (QOF).

The hearing is open to the public and will be held in the IRS Auditorium, Internal Revenue Service Building, 1111 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC. At this time, it does not appear that there will be a telephone or web-based broadcast of the hearing. NAHRO will attend the hearing and provide a summary of the hearing to our members.

Additional information on the February 14 Opportunity Zone public hearing can be found in the pre-publication Federal Register notice.