Update on HUD Funding During Government Shutdown

As of this writing, a federal shutdown is in effect while Congress works on a Continuing Resolution to fund the government. While we hear that HUD is confident that February payments will be loaded and available to public housing authorities (PHAs), there is no guarantee of this. We strongly encourage NAHRO members to call their Representatives and their Senators, and to let them know that the government shutdown will jeopardize the rental payments and therefore the housing of the public housing and Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher residents we serve.For more information, see HUD’s current shutdown plan (PDF). More information is also available on the HUD website. NAHRO will continue to monitor the situation and keep members informed.

HUD PIH Publishes Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 Guidance

On May 19, HUD Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) published a new notice (PIH-2017-08) that provides guidance to PHAs and owners on the requirements of the “Violence Against Women Act of 2013: Implementation in HUD Housing Programs Final Rule,” (VAWA Final Rule, published November 16, 2016) with respect to the Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) programs (including the Project-Based Voucher (PBV)), and Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation (Mode Rehab).

Overall, the VAWA Final Rule provides expanded housing protections for survivors of violence and fully codifies the provisions of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA 2013) into HUD’s regulations. At its core, VAWA 2013 prohibits housing providers from denying or terminating housing assistance on the basis that an applicant or tenant is a survivor of violence.

Notice PIH-2017-08 provides a summary of the major changes of the final rule’s impact on PIH programs and details who is eligible to receive VAWA protections and how eligibility is determined and certified.

Among its topics, the notice reviews policies for:

  • PHA Documentation Requirements
  • Notice of Occupancy Rights
  • Victim Confidentiality
  • Emergency Transfers (Emergency Transfer Plans must be in place by June 14, 2017)
  • Family Break-up
  • Record Keeping and Reporting Requirements
  • Developing Partnerships with Victim Service Providers
  • Lease Bifurcations
  • Establishing Waiting List Preferences
  • Landownership: Move with Continued Tenant-Based Assistance
  • Owners in the HCV Program
  • Assistance Under More Than One Covered Housing Program
  • Fair Housing and Nondiscrimination

Please note that this guidance does not encompass every aspect of the VAWA Final Rule and should be used in conjunction with the VAWA Final Rule. NAHRO will provide a deeper analysis of this PIH notice for members in a forthcoming edition of the NAHRO Monitor.

PIH Notice on VAWA Self-Petitioner Verification Procedures

Today, HUD’s Office of Pubic and Indian Housing (PIH) published a notice (PIH 2017-02 (HA)) titled, “Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Self-Petitioner Verification Procedures.” This notice explains the procedures that public housing agencies (PHAs) must follow when an applicant or resident/tenant requests admission or continued residency as a result of being a VAWA self-petitioner, defined as those who claim to be victims of “battery or extreme cruelty” (i.e., domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking). This notice applies to HUD’s public housing, housing choice voucher assistance (including project-based vouchers), and Section 8 Mod Rehab programs.

HUD Issues New Certification Requirements for Housing Counselors

On December 14, HUD issued a final rule titled “Housing Counseling Certification” that codifies statutory requirements that housing counseling required under or provided in connection with all HUD programs will be provided by HUD-Certified Housing Counselors. In order to become certified, housing counselors must pass a standardized written examination and work for a HUD-approved housing counseling agency (HCA). The goal of these new requirements is to improve the knowledge and effectiveness of housing counselors that serve HUD-assisted renters, prospective homebuyers, or existing homeowners.

The final compliance date for the certification requirement is three years after the date the certification examination becomes available. HUD will publish a separate Federal Register notice to announce the start of the testing and certification process. However, some of the provisions of the final rule will become effective on January 13, 2017, including:

  • Requirement for agencies that provide homeownership counseling,
  • Requirement related to distribution of home inspection materials,
  • Provision for agencies found to have misused housing counseling program grant funds, and
  • Prohibition against distribution of funds to organizations convicted of violating election laws.

Access HUD’s resource page on the final rule here.

It is important to note that this new rule now covers not only participants in HUD’s Housing Counseling Program but also participants in other HUD programs including HOME Investment Partnerships, Community Development Block Grant, Public and Indian Housing, and FHA Single Family. Covered stakeholders will have three years from the date the certification examination becomes available to comply with the housing counselor certification requirement. A resource sheet for other HUD programs covered under this final rule is available here.

Additional coverage of the final rule will be available in the forthcoming edition of the NAHRO Monitor (members only).

HUD Finalizes Rule to Expand Housing Protections for Survivors of Violence

On October 24, HUD announced the impending publication of a final rule that will expand the housing protections for victims of  domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking (hereinafter known as “victim”) regardless of sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or age. The final rule will fully codify the provisions of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA 2013) into HUD’s regulations.

At its core, VAWA 2013 prohibits housing providers from denying or terminating housing assistance on the basis that an applicant or tenant is a victim. HUD’s final rule expands the universe of HUD rental assistance programs subject to the VAWA 2013 statute beyond Public Housing and Section 8 programs to also include:

  • Housing Trust Fund (HTF) – a program originally not listed under VAWA 2013;
  • HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) program;
  • Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) program;
  • HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless programs;
  • Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities;
  • Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly;
  • Section 221(d)(3) Below Market Interest Rate (BMIR) Program
  • Section 236 Rental Program

These programs, along with properties assisted through the USDA Rural Housing programs and the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, are collectively referred to as “covered housing programs.”

Overall, HUD’s final rule:

  • Codifies the core protections under VAWA 2013 across HUD’s covered programs by ensuring survivors are not denied assistance as an applicant, or evicted or have assistance terminated due to the individual’s victim status, or for being affiliated with a victim.
  • Provides a model emergency transfer plan for housing providers and explains how housing providers must address their tenants’ requests for emergency transfers.
  • Offers protections against the adverse effects of abuse that can often have negative economic and criminal consequences on a survivor. For example, a perpetrator may take out credit cards in a survivor’s name, ruining their credit history. Covered housing providers may  not deny tenancy or occupancy rights based solely on adverse factors that are a direct result of being a survivor.
  • Makes clear that under most circumstances, a survivor need only to self-certify in order to exercise their rights under VAWA, there by “ensuring third party documentation does not cause a barrier in a survivor expressing their rights and receiving the protections needed to keep themselves safe.”

HUD’s final rule is currently pending publication in the Federal Register. Once published, the rule’s regulations will become effective after 30 days.

An in-depth analysis of the final rule can be found in the October 30, 2016 edition of the NAHRO Monitor (members only).