NAHRO Comments on DHS Public Charge Proposed Rule

The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials opposes the proposed rule due to its negative impact on immigrant families and the additional negative consequence of inefficient use of limited social service funds. NAHRO requested that the proposed rule be withdrawn as written and the current public charge guidance remain in effect.

On December 10, NAHRO submitted comments on the Department of Homeland Security’s proposed rule titled “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds.”

The proposed rule makes significant changes and additions to the current public charge guidance. The proposed new definition of “public charge” is “that a person should be considered a public charge based on the receipt of financial support from the general public through government funding (i.e., public benefits).”In order to use this definition of “public charge,” “public benefit” must be defined and the proposed rule provides a definition that vastly and inappropriately expands the programs that are to be considered. The proposed rule defines public benefit as a list of cash aid and noncash medical care, housing, and food benefit programs. The list of benefits includes the current cash assistance and institutionalization benefit and further expands the benefits to include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps), the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCV), Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA), Medicaid, and Public Housing.

NAHRO made two primary arguments in opposition to the proposed rule – very few noncitizens use housing benefits and the proposed rule causes unnecessary confusion while an inefficient use of resources.

DHS acknowledges in the proposed regulation that noncitizen participation in the Public Housing, Housing Choice Voucher, and Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance programs is “relatively low.” Congress, via statute, and HUD, via regulation, have already protected federal dollars from being used on non-eligible noncitizens and there is no fiscally responsible reason for DHS to further step into this arena.

The proposed rule, despite having few benefits for its expected cost, has caused considerable confusion and angst among current and potential residents of HUD’s housing programs. Current residents have left housing programs because of a fear of being separated from their family because of the proposed rule. Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) around the country are attempting to combat the confusion of this public charge proposed rule. Many PHAs are reaching out to their current residents and local communities to explain the proposed rule and how it applies to the HUD housing programs. The resources needed to explain the public charge proposed rule and any future final rule would be much better spent on providing housing and resident services to U.S. citizens and eligible noncitizens.

The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials opposes the proposed rule due to its negative impact on immigrant families and the additional negative consequence of inefficient use of limited social service funds. NAHRO requested that the proposed rule be withdrawn as written and the current public charge guidance remain in effect.

NARHO’s full comments can be viewed here.

HUD Seeks Comments on CoC Formula, Proposes Formula Alternatives

On July 25, the “Continuum of Care Program: Solicitation of Comment on Continuum of Care Formula” notice will be published by HUD in the Federal Register. The purpose of the notice to solicit comments on the current Continuum of Care (CoC) formula and a number of updated CoC Preliminary Pro Rata Need (PPRN formula) options. Comments will be due 60 days after the notice is issued – September 23, 2106, based on the anticipated Federal Register date of July 25.

The current PPRN formula was published by HUD as the interim rule on July 31, 2012, and is a combination of Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) program grant funds and Community Development Block Grant (CBDG) funds awarding formulas. This notice proposes four alternative formulas that use various factors and factor weights.

HUD has made available two tools to explore potential updates to the PPRN formula. The first tool is the CoC PPRN Proposed Formula Impacts by CoC resource where users can learn more about the CoC-level PPRN funding impact of implementing each of the four proposed formulas in the Notice, as compared to the FY 15 PPRN amounts by CoC. The second tool, CoC PPRN Alternate Formula Testing Tool, tests the impact of potential factors for an alternate CoC PPRN formula.

Additional information will be available on NAHRO’s Community Development Resource Center and on HUD’s notice website.

Voucher Mobility Debate at the Furman Center

The Furman Center has published a discussion on their website about voucher mobility. The discussion centers around HUD’s proposed Small Area Fair Market Rents rule, which would require certain metropolitan areas to use zip code level fair market rents. There are four written pieces, each with a unique viewpoint:

Here’s a quote from Rachel Fee’s essay:

HUD’s proposal is made without a Section 8 budget increase, so housing “opportunity” for some low-income families will come at the expense of others.  Families who choose to stay in their current homes in high poverty areas or those who are unable to move, will literally pay the price of higher rents for families using their voucher in more expensive neighborhoods.

While NAHRO is still in the process of writing its comment letter on the proposed rule, NAHRO’s initial concerns about the Small Area FMR proposed rule include concerns about tenant welfare, limiting the choice of tenants, and administrative burdens. NAHRO also believes that additional research should be done before implementing HUD’s rule and that additional funding is required to properly implement it.

NAHRO Submits Comments on HUD’s UPCS-V Demonstration

On Friday, June 17, NAHRO submitted to HUD its comment letter on HUD’s UPCS-V Demonstration. NAHRO encourages all interested parties to provide their comments to HUD and comments may be submitted until July 5, 2016. NAHRO’s comments are split into four primary sections. They discuss concerns about the costs of transitioning to the UPCS-V protocol; concerns about the UPCS-V Demonstration; concerns about the protocol itself; and feedback on specific inquiries about the protocol. NAHRO hopes that HUD will carefully consider these comments as it moves forward with the UPCS-V Demonstration.

Members can read NAHRO’s full comments here.