Housing Plus

Housing Plus

Guidance and legal insight for all aspects of housing and community development

By the Housing Group at Ballard Spahr

HUD Activity – Week of November 28, 2016

Posted in Community Development, Enforcement, Government-Assisted Housing, Policy, Public Housing, Section 8
  • HUD Announces Nationwide Smoke-Free Policy in Public Housing

The most talked about HUD development this week has been Secretary Castro’s announcement on Wednesday, November 30th that HUD will require all public housing developments to be smoke-free environments. By early February, public housing agencies (PHAs) must implement smoke-free policies that ban listed prohibited tobacco products from public housing living units, indoor common areas, PHA administrative office buildings, and outdoor areas within 25 feet of these spaces. This rule will apply to all public housing, with the exception of Section 8 dwelling units in mixed-finance buildings.

HUD’s Final Rule can be accessed here.

  • HUD Soliciting Comments on HOTMA Public Housing Income Limit Provisions

This week, HUD also published a Federal Register notice that it is soliciting comments on the implementation of the public housing income provisions of the Housing Opportunities through Modernization Act (HOTMA). HOTMA mandates that once a family’s income exceeds 120 percent of the area median income for two consecutive years, the PHA must either terminate the tenancy or charge the family a higher monthly rent. HUD maintains the authority to adjust the 120 percent threshold if the HUD Secretary finds such adjustment necessary.

HUD requests that comments address:

  1.  whether HUD’s current proposed method of determining income limits (as stated in the notice) adequately considers local housing costs and makes appropriate adjustments for higher housing costs, and
  2. other factors HUD should consider when determining whether to make adjustments to the income limit (with specific examples of circumstances not currently captured in HUD’s proposed methodology).

Ballard Spahr’s Housing Group previously commented on HUD’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on public housing income limits in March, before HOTMA’s passage.

  • HUD Interim Final Rule on HOME Program Commitment Requirement Changes

By statute, participating HOME Investment Partnership (HOME) jurisdictions must place grant funds under binding commitments within 24 months from the month in which the grant agreement was executed. On December 2, 2016, HUD published an Interim Final Rule changing the way the agency will determine compliance with the commitment requirement. The Rule revises HUD’s longstanding cumulative commitment methodology with a grant specific one that allows participating jurisdictions to select the year HOME grant funds will be committed to a specific project or activity. The Rule also eliminates the 5-year deadline for expenditures of HOME funds appropriated for FY 2015 and following years to better align with recent appropriations statutes and existing HUD deadlines for completing projects assisted with HOME funds.

This Rule affects HOME grants from Fiscal Year 2015 and beyond, and is scheduled to take effect on January 31, 2017. HUD is accepting comments to the interim rule until January 3, 2017 by mail or electronic submission through www.regulations.gov.

 

In Case You Missed It: A Recap of Recent HUD Activity

Posted in Community Development, Fair Housing, Government-Assisted Housing, Policy, Public Housing, RAD, Section 8

HUD has been quite active this month publishing a variety of new rules and housing notices. The following is a list of some of HUD’s most recent guidance.

For certain public housing authorities (PHAs) with less than 250 public housing dwelling units, this notice offers guidance on the flexible uses of capital and operating funds for large improvements and other eligible expenditures.

For certain metropolitan areas experiencing high housing choice voucher (HCV) concentrations, this final rule allows rents to be determined by zip codes instead of the 50th percentile formula for the entire metropolitan area. According to HUD, using zip codes to define the Small Area Fair Market Rent (FMR)  will allow the agency to provide a more accurate subsidy to reduce the number of voucher families residing in areas of high poverty concentration. The rule also implements the Housing Opportunity through Modernization Act of 2016 (HOTMA) provisions related to FMRs and regulatory changes to the HCV program payment standard adjustments.

This rule amends HUD regulations to include the requirements of the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which extended VAWA protectections beyond public housing to tenant-based and project-based Section 8 programs as well.

See our recent blog post for more detailed information on these updated RAD civil rights and reolocation requirements.

This PIH notice discusses revisions to form HUD-52725 used to report executive compensation. For calendar year 2015 compensation data collection, PHAs must complete the HUD-52725 form online and submit it electronically by December 9, 2016.

On a case by case basis, HUD will allow for the amendment and restatement of a property’s LIHPRHA Use Agreement to allow the project owner to receive proceeds from the refinance of the property, unlimited annual distributions from surplus cash, and funds accumulated in a residual receipts account. This notice outlines the circumstances under which HUD will allow such amendment and restatement, and approve LIHPRHA preservation transactions.

Pursuant to this notice, HUD allocated $500 million in CDBG-DR funds to assist long-term recovery efforts in Louisiana, Texas, and West Virginia. The notice also outlines the grant award process, and describes eligible disaster recovery activities, alternative requirements, and applicable waivers available to potential grantees.

This rule extends HUD’s equal access protections to HUD’s Native American and Native Hawaiian program regulations to ensure that eligible persons and families have access to housing programs regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.

 

HUD Publishes Much Anticipated RAD Notice on Fair Housing, Civil Rights and Relocation Requirements

Posted in Fair Housing, Policy, RAD

Yesterday HUD published the much anticipated RAD Notice Regarding Fair Housing and Civil Rights Requirements and Relocation Requirements Applicable to RAD First Component – Public Housing (the “Notice”).  The Notice is intended to provide guidance regarding key fair housing and civil rights statutory and regulatory requirements, explain the situations in which HUD is requiring front-end fair housing and civil rights reviews, and provide information regarding the types of information that must be submitted to facilitate HUD’s review of certain fair housing and civil rights requirements in connection with public housing conversions under the First Component of RAD.  The Notice is  also intended to provide guidance in response to requests for clarity among RAD participants on the review process, including how HUD evaluates whether or not to further invest on a particular site.

The Notice is effective immediately and applies to all projects that have applied for conversion under the First Component of RAD but have not yet converted. The Notice will not affect any front-end civil rights approvals provided by HUD prior to November 10, 2016. However, with respect to relocation activities, where a Financing Plan has been submitted and accepted for full review as of November 10, 2016, an exception from the Notice can be sought and the project may continue to be governed by Notice H 2014-09/PIH 2014-17 with respect to relocation activities, but not with respect to fair housing and civil rights requirements.

HUD is hosting a webinar on the Notice on Thursday, November 17th at 2PM ET and you can register to participate via the following link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4139672652250681347

HUD also published a Solicitation of Comment seeking public comment on the Notice with a focus on the clarity of the information provided in the Notice.  Comments are due December 14, 2016.

Ballard Spahr will be undertaking a review of the Notice and anticipates posting additional material on the substance of the Notice, as well as submitting comments as necessary.  We welcome thoughts of our clients and friends who may be interested in compiling joint comments.

HUD Publishes HOTMA Initial Implementation Notice

Posted in Government-Assisted Housing, Legislative Initiatives, Policy, Public Housing, Section 8

HUD has issued a Federal Register Notice offering initial implementation guidance for the Housing Opportunities through Modernization Act of 2016 (HOTMA) (Pub. L. 114-201). The notice highlighted both the HOTMA provisions that are self-implementing or otherwise already in effect, and outlined certain key HOTMA provisions that will require further action by HUD.

In addition to the five self-implementing HOTMA provisions noted in our previous blog post, the following HOTMA provisions are also currently in effect due to prior HUD rulemaking or notices:

  • Section 402: Inclusion of Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) and Local Development Authorities in Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG)
  • Section 501: Inclusion of Disaster Housing Assistance Program in Certain Fraud and Abuse Prevention Measures
  • Section 502: Energy Efficiency Requirements under the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program
  • Section 701: Formula and Terms for Allocations to Prevent Homelessness for Individuals Living with HIV or AIDS

In addition to clarifying which HOTMA sections are immediately applicable, the notice also highlights guidance that PHAs and other housing providers can expect from HUD in the future. This guidance includes, but is not limited to, the following topics:

  • PHA discretion in applying different payment standards for family subsidy calculations when fair market rents have decreased
  • Improving coordination between PHAs and public child welfare agencies to carry out the Family Unification Program
  • Conditions and requirements for subawarding ESG funds to PHAs and local redevelopment authorities
  • Changes to the allocation formula for the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program, and forthcoming HUD regulations on the reallocation of HOPWA funds to alternative grantees
  • Annual adjusted income caps for public housing tenancy, and regulations outlining subsidy calculations for over-income families remaining in their units
  • Funding Capital Fund Replacement Reserves, caps for capital improvements, plus accounting and reporting requirements for replacement reserve funds
  • Forthcoming Mortgagee Letter to establish specific percentages of owner-occupied units in FHA-insured condominiums

Part IV of the notice also discusses the type of implementation action HUD is considering for the HOTMA sections that require further rulemaking or guidance.  We will continue to monitor HOTMA’s implementation across various HUD programs.

Reminder: Comments to revised RAD forms due October 28th and RAD Report out for review

Posted in Uncategorized

On September 28, 2016, HUD published a notice in the Federal Register to solicit comments to revised form documents used in the Rental Assistance Demonstration (“RAD”).

This notice follows a 60-day comment period on earlier draft changes to the form documents. However, noted in the notice, HUD only received six sets of public comments in response to its prior notice, and we encourage our housing partners to review the revised drafts and provide comments, as necessary, to ensure that the final set of new form documents reflect the needs of all RAD participants. Comments are due Friday, October 28.

Ballard submitted comments to the earlier drafts, and we are currently reviewing the revised drafts.

In other RAD news, HUD has released an interim report on its evaluation of RAD based on 185 projects that closed before October 2015, and we encourage you to delve into the results. In particular, HUD reports the following findings:

  • On average, for every $1 invested by the PHA in their RAD projects, private and public external sources invested an additional $8.91, creating a leverage ratio of nearly 9:1.
  • The sources of private and public external funds break down as follows: 39.4% from low-income housing tax credits (20.3% from 4% credits and 19.1% from 9% credits); 27.6% from soft funding sources (16.1% from seller financing and 11.6% from other soft sources); 22.7% from third-party debt; 10.1% from the PHA’s own resources.
  • PHA size appears to affect a project’s success at obtaining private capital with large PHAs accounting for the largest portion of financing compared with their proportion of projects and units. Large PHAs also have an outsized role in the program because their projects comprise a larger portion of RAD projects, even though they tended to select fewer projects (as a percentage of their entire portfolio) for conversion.
  • As compared to non-RAD public housing projects, RAD projects tend to have tenants with lower median household income, a greater mix of large-size units and are located in more stable areas with lower rates of poverty, greater rates of housing cost burden and high rates of overcrowding.
  • RAD projects are also more likely to have higher per-unit operating subsidies and lower-per unit expenses, which makes financing capital improvements more feasible.

We look forward to HUD’s continued evaluation of the program, including any insight into how these finding may change based on the projects that have closed in the past year.

HUD Issues Guidance on HOTMA’s Self- Implementing Provisions

Posted in Government-Assisted Housing, Public Housing, Section 8

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently issued this letter to public housing authority (PHA) Executive Directors regarding the five self-implementing portions of the Housing Opportunities through Modernization Act (HOTMA) (Pub. L. 114-201) that was signed into law on July 29, 2016. According to this guidance, which is also expected to be transmitted through a Federal Register notice soon, the following HOTMA sections are effective immediately:

Section 102(d) – Reasonable Accommodation Payment Standards

Section 107 – Establishment of Fair Market Rent

Section 110 – Family Unification Program for Children Aging out of Foster Care

Section 113 – Preference for US Citizens or Nationals (applicable in Guam only)

Section 114 – Exception to Public Housing Agency Resident Board Membership Requirements (applicable to PHAs in specified jurisdictions)

As the letter points out, all remaining HOTMA sections impacting the housing choice voucher and public housing programs will only become effective upon HUD’s issuance of an applicable notice or regulation for those provisions. Until then, PHAs must continue operate under current housing regulations.

 

Join us for our Eleventh Annual National Housing Conference in Washington, D.C.

Posted in Budget, Fair Housing, FHA and GSE Financing, Government-Assisted Housing, Housing Bonds, Legislative Initiatives, Policy, Public Housing, RAD, Section 8, Tax Credits

Ballard Spahr is committed to facilitating and leading the conversation within the affordable housing community, which makes us thrilled to announce our Eleventh Annual National Housing Conference in Washington, D.C., from November 3 to 4. This two-day, complimentary event features engaging discussions, panel presentations, special insights, and networking opportunities with the key influences and power players of the affordable housing industry.

Day one is our Housing Authority Summit. Housing authority executives will join us to discuss the most critical issues and challenges they face and explore solutions to help push your housing authority into the future. Panels and roundtables will cover various topics, including property tax exemptions, strategic relationship development, financing strategies, fair housing, and RAD transactions. Registration for the Summit is limited to those in leadership roles at housing authorities; however we will curate blog content around the pertinent matters that will be covered. If you would like additional information on attending the Summit, please contact Jennifer Boehm.

Day two will feature our National Housing Symposium, an open event where our high-powered lineup of presenters will explore today’s housing market and look into the future, now that post-recession demand is driving exciting programs and initiatives. In addition to the popular Heard on the Hill discussion, panels will discuss the latest in RAD projects, fair housing problems, demographic trends, Year 15 issues, and multifamily housing bonds. Registration is free, and our detailed program description is available.

We are excited to provide an informative and collaborative forum for dialogue, exploration, and networking within an industry about which we feel so passionate. Though we will certainly blog about conference updates and insights, we hope you will join us in person!

HUD Expands Fair Housing Liability to Include LEP Discrimination

Posted in Enforcement, Fair Housing, Policy
Scale

Last week, HUD issued new guidance confirming that persons with limited English proficiency (LEP) are protected under the Fair Housing Act (FHA). LEP includes a limited ability to read, write, speak, or understand English.  The guidance reasons that LEP persons are covered by the FHA because of their close nexus with the protected class of national origin.

The new guidance confirms that discrimination against LEP persons may include intentional discrimination or disparate impact, the latter of which involves facially neutral policies that have a discriminatory effect.  Examples of prohibited or potentially discriminatory practices include:

  • Refusing to rent to or to renew a lease for a person who speaks a certain language, but renting to those who speak another language
  • Refusing to allow translation of housing-related documents, such as leases or mortgages
  • Lending on unfair terms to certain LEP groups who share national origin
  • Restricting a renter’s or borrower’s use of an interpreter
  • Requiring an English speaker to co-sign a mortgage

This prohibition on LEP discrimination in the housing context is an expansion of HUD’s regulations to assist LEP persons in programs receiving federal financial assistance. Under those regulations, recipients of federal financial assistance have an obligation under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to assist LEP persons to access to federally funded programs, such as public housing, housing choice vouchers, and other subsidized housing. The new HUD guidance, in contrast, interprets LEP discrimination under the FHA, which applies much more broadly to most rental and home sales whether or not federal assistance is involved, as well as lending activity.  Further discussion of the new guidance is available on Ballard Spahr’s website.

 

HUD Issues Year-End Closing Deadlines for Mixed-Finance Deals

Posted in Government-Assisted Housing, Public Housing

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently issued a memo outlining its processing schedule for mixed-finance projects targeted to close by the end of 2016. According to HUD’s Office of Public Housing Investments, parties wishing to close a mixed-finance transaction by December 31, 2016 must:

  • Submit a complete Development Proposal by November 7, 2016. This deadline also applies to any Proposal revisions. Year-end approval is not guaranteed for project Proposals that HUD determines still need substantial revisions after its review.
  • Submit final, unexecuted evidentiary materials by November 14, 2016. If changes are made post-submission, HUD cannot assure its approval of those documents before December 30, 2016.

Due to staffing constraints during the last week of the calendar year, HUD strongly encourages parties to submit documents early and attempt to close before December 21st. A full copy of the HUD memo can be accessed here.

New Fair Housing Rule Extends Liability to Housing Providers for Harassment

Posted in Enforcement, Fair Housing, Government-Assisted Housing, Policy

This week, HUD issued a final rule that creates liability under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) for housing providers for occurrences of “quid pro quo harassment” or “hostile environment harassment.” The new rule takes effect on October 14, 2016.

The rule prohibits both quid pro quo and hostile environment harassment because of a resident’s protected class which, under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) includes race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, or disability.

The most concerning section of the rule for housing providers relates to direct liability exposure for any type of discriminatory housing practice. The rule creates three categories of direct liability for housing providers—liability for the housing provider’s own conduct; liability for failing to take prompt corrective action relating to the conduct of its employees or agents; and liability for failing to take prompt corrective action for the conduct of a third party (such as another resident). As a result, providers could be liable for behavior among tenants if the housing provider “knew or should have known of the discriminatory conduct and had the power to correct it.” This potentially interjects housing providers into disputes among tenants related to harassing behavior.  See Ballard Spahr’s e-alert on the rule for more discussion of the new rule and it’s implications.