Government-Assisted Housing

 

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced it will be rescinding the form of Annual Contributions Contract (ACC) that HUD had released to housing authorities this past May with instructions that the form of ACC would automatically become effective for housing authorities as each housing authority drew down their first installment of 2018 Capital Funds.

Housing Authority coalitions and lawyers within the affordable housing bar raised significant concerns with HUD over the summer concerning this new form and the lack of transparency that accompanied its development and release.  Some of the concerns are set forth in an alert recently posted by the Public Housing Authorities Directors Association.  Ballard Spahr lawyers, Amy Glassman and Courtney Hunter, participated in meetings with HUD leaders on these issues, as well.

This is a significant development for housing authorities and those who work with housing authorities in revitalizing the nation’s public housing stock. HUD has indicated they will initiate a process for updating the form of ACC and will seek comments from the public as part of that effort.  Ballard Spahr will continue to monitor the issue and keep you informed through the Housing Plus Blog.

 

 

HUD’s Moving to Work (MTW) Office has been busy! Earlier this month, HUD published for public comment a revised Operations Notice that will govern an expanded MTW program. Just a few days ago, HUD published the much-awaited notice inviting the first round of new applicants for the expanded MTW program. Continue Reading HUD Publishes MTW Operations Notice and Request for First Round of New MTW Applicants

 

The Census Bureau, in conjunction with researchers from Harvard and Brown Universities, this week published a national “opportunity atlas” that tracks outcomes for children in adulthood based on nationwide data. The atlas can be used to find, down to the census tract level, information on positive and negative outcomes for children, with information such as earnings, incarceration rates by parental income, race and gender. See also the New York Times discussion of how the Seattle Housing Authority is using the atlas to allow higher housing choice voucher rents in certain neighborhoods.  Pretty interesting data as we start to implement Opportunity Zones, revise the affirmatively furthering fair housing rule, consider small area FMRs for the voucher program, and plan for new affordable housing developments.

A pending lawsuit against HUD challenging its suspension of its local tool for affirmative fair housing assessments has been dismissed.  Earlier this year, HUD first extended the deadlines for, then withdrew, its Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Local Government Assessment Tool, which had been the subject of some controversy related to the reporting burden associated with the tool and other criticisms.  The Local Government Assessment Tool is to be used by cities and other entities that receive Community Development Block Grants, HOME Investment Partnerships Program, Emergency Solutions Grants, or Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS formula funding from HUD.  Advocates challenged HUD’s actions in a lawsuit.

Last week, the court granted HUD’s motion to dismiss the case. The court found that HUD had authority to withdraw the tool.

The dismissal comes as HUD has reopened the 2015 AFFH regulations for public comment.  Comments are due October 15, 2018, and we encourage all who are interested in this topic to submit comments.

 

As indicated earlier this week, HUD is seeking comments to inform revisions to its Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule. We have been waiting for official publication of the advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) in the Federal Register to determine when these comments will be due. HUD today published the ANPR.  We now know comments are due October 15, 2018.

Yesterday, HUD announced that it intends to amend its 2015 regulations on affirmatively furthering fair housing, or AFFH. HUD is giving the public 60 days from publication of its advance notice of proposed rulemaking to provide comments on the current AFFH rule.  HUD seeks comments that will help it revise the rule to:

  • “Minimize regulatory burden” while more effectively fulfilling the AFFH requirements
  • Focus on “positive results” rather than “analysis of community characteristics”
  • Allow “greater local control and innovation”
  • Increase housing choice, including greater supply
  • “More efficiently use HUD resources”

This announcement comes after HUD first extended the deadlines for, then withdrew, its AFFH Local Government Assessment Tool, which had been the subject of some controversy related to the reporting burden associated with the tool and other criticisms.  The Local Government Assessment Tool is to be used by cities and other entities that receive Community Development Block Grants, HOME Investment Partnerships Program, Emergency Solutions Grants, or Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS formula funding from HUD.  HUD’s announcement also comes while HUD is being sued by advocacy groups related to these actions regarding the assessment tool.

The 2015 AFFH rule contemplated that public housing authorities, states and insular areas would also use a different tool to conduct assessments of fair housing, but those tools have not yet been finalized.

These actions by HUD do not eliminate the Fair Housing Act’s requirements for recipients of HUD funds to affirmatively further fair housing. Indeed, most recipients certify that they further fair housing in connection with various applications for HUD funds and other HUD submissions. Instead, HUD’s actions return most entities to the requirements in effect prior to the 2015 rule, in which they must conduct an analysis of impediments rather than use an assessment tool.

We are working on comments on the AFFH rule, and encourage any entities impacted by the AFFH rule to consider commenting on it.

Ballard Spahr lawyers, Molly Bryson, Doug Fox, Wendi Kotzen and Linda Schakel, recently offered a  presentation regarding the Opportunity Zones established as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act .  As a new program established to encourage capital investment in the over 8,700 Opportunity Zones selected by each of the states, District of Columbia, and U.S. possessions, this new program has the potential to provide investors in Opportunity Funds with deferral of tax on gains rolled over into an Opportunity Fund and potential elimination of tax on the appreciation recognized on the investment in the Opportunity Fund. Opportunity Funds and their investors will be looking to make investments in businesses and property located in Opportunity Zones. Investments in Opportunity Zones could be used in conjunction with the low-income housing tax credit and help bolster affordable housing and community development projects in these neighborhoods.

The linked materials and the session recording provide steps you can take to benefit from this new federal tax program, including:

·        Establishing and qualifying an Opportunity Fund

·        Investing gains into Opportunity Funds

·        Obtaining the maximum benefit of investing in Opportunity Funds

·        Structuring Opportunity Fund investments

·        Locating designated Opportunity Zones

·        Positioning your business or property to qualify as eligible for investment capital from an Opportunity Fund

·        Combining the benefits of an Opportunity Zone with other federal tax programs, such as Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), Historic Tax Credits, and New Markets Tax Credits.

Should you have a project that you think could benefit from Opportunity Zones investments or are seeking ways to facilitate investments, please reach out to members of the Ballard Spahr team for guidance and help brainstorming around issues and questions.

The Rental Assistance Demonstration (“RAD”) is well known for the option to convert public housing subsidy to a long-term Section 8 Housing Assistance Payments contract (“HAP Contract”) — but RAD also allows owners to convert their Moderate Rehabilitation (“Mod Rehab”) and Moderate Rehabilitation Single Room Occupancy (“SRO”) contracts to a Section 8 HAP Contract.  HUD estimates that there are over twenty thousand units of Mod Rehab and SRO units across the country with no cap on the number of units that can convert through RAD (see database of units here).

Converting Mod Rehab and SRO contracts to long-term Section 8 HAPs through RAD can present advantages to both the owners of the project and the public housing authorities (“PHA”) that administer the existing contracts.  Below are just a few of the possible benefits for owners and PHAs:

Benefits to Owner:
Long-term RAD HAP Contract:

  • Likely higher rents
  • Provides stability
  • Can be used to secure/leverage financing for rehabilitation
  • Preserve affordable housing
Benefits to PHAs:
For Project Based Voucher (PBV) conversions:

  • New vouchers added to PHA’s Annual Contributions Contract (ACC)
  • PHA receives ongoing administrative fee
  • Contract administration responsibilities align with standard PBV program

For Project Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) conversions:

  • HUD administers HAP contract
  • PHA relieved of contract administration

Ballard Spahr recently hosted a webinar with HUD on the RAD conversion process for Mod Rehab and SRO projects.  You can find a recording of the webinar and the associated slides on the Ballard Spahr website.  We are happy to answer and questions you might have on the conversion process.

 

July is right around the corner and we wanted to remind everyone of the HUD deadlines for closing RAD conversions by year end:

Required Action Deadline to close by
November 30, 2018
Deadline to close by
December 31, 2018
Upload all required Financing Plan
documents*
June 15 July 13
Receive a HUD-executed RCC** August 17 September 14
Submit complete closing package** September 1 October 1
All RAD documents approved and ready for HUD signatures** November 15 December 13

* Note: FHA applications should be submitted at roughly the same time as the Financing Plan documents. PHAs should coordinate with their FHA lender to stay on track.

** Note: An RCC that has already been extended up to or beyond 6 months past the date of issuance will have a lower priority for closing during CY2018.

These deadlines don’t always align with standard low income housing tax credit closings and can sneak up quickly.  Keep the following tips in mind to manage a successful year end conversion:

  • Know the RAD checklists (PBV and PBRA) and what transaction documents must be submitted to HUD.
  • Work out any title and survey issues before HUD submission.
  • Establish a detailed RAD timeline and engage with financing partners as soon as possible on the timeline.
  • Share the HUD-required ownership and control provisions that must be included in transaction documents with financing partners prior to the circulation of draft documents.
  • Share the HUD sample RAD Subordination Agreement with lenders as soon as possible.
  • If necessary, consider prioritizing circulation and review of transaction documents that must be submitted to HUD.
  • Account for the time between receiving final HUD approval and HUD signing and mailing documents – this can take over a week.
  • Aim to make an initial submission to HUD within 2 weeks of RCC issuance (if not sooner). A submission beyond 2 months of RCC issuance will have the transaction placed in “Delayed Submission” status.
  • Make HUD aware of any targeted and hard closing deadlines.

Cheers to a smooth year end!

HUD recently issued a set of answers to frequently asked questions to provide further guidance on a new method of disposing of public housing in conjunction with a RAD conversion (the “FAQ”).   Earlier this year, HUD issued Notice PIH 2018-04 (HA) (the “PIH Notice”) addressing a number of public housing demolition and disposition issues.  In particular, Section 3.A.3.c of the PIH Notice permits a housing authority implementing a Rental Assistance Demonstration (“RAD”) project that involves new construction or substantial rehabilitation (defined as involving hard construction costs inclusive of general requirements, overhead and profit, and payment and performance bonds exceeding 60% of the HUD-published Housing Construction Costs) without the benefit of a 9% low-income housing tax credit financing.

For such projects, HUD will allow up to 25% of the units within the RAD project to be disposed under Section 18 of the U.S. Housing Act of 1937 (the “Housing Act”) and eligible for Section 8 tenant-protection vouchers with a means of project-basing the vouchers to be administered pursuant to 24 CFR Part 983 (the “PBV”).  At least 75% of the units within the project are to convert in accordance with RAD. The PIH Notice relies on the RAD definition of “project” (defined as “a structure or group of structures that in HUD’s determination are appropriately managed as a single asset. In determining whether a combination of structures constitute a project, HUD will take into account types of  buildings, occupancy, location, market influences, management organization, financing structure or other factors as appropriate. For a RAD PBV conversion, the definition of ‘project’ in 24 CFR § 983.3 continues to apply for all references to the term in 24 CFR § 983.”)  The total number of replacement units created through the combination of the RAD and Section 18 disposition processes must also satisfy RAD’s “substantial conversion of assistance” standards, meaning that conversions may not result in a reduction of the number of assisted units, except by a de minimis amount.

The FAQ offers examples and explanations of opportunities that could further enhance the viability of a RAD conversion, including the following:

  • The “substantial conversion of assistance” requirements, for example, could be applied in a manner that would designate more than 25% of the units within a project as regular PBV units under 24 CFR part 983 by placing both the TPVs realized under the Section 18 disposition process, together with the 5 units or 5% RAD de minimis allowance under the regular PBV HAP (FAQ 5).
  • A RAD/Section 18 project would utilize two HAPs – the RAD form of HAP (using the CHAP rents to be adjusted annually pursuant to the Operating Cost Adjustment Factor or OCAF) and the standard Part 983 AHAP/HAP (with rents determined based on the lesser of reasonable rent and up to 110% of the fair market rent subject to annual adjustment) (FAQ # and Initial Processing Instructions).
  • TPVs issued for the public housing units removed pursuant to Section 18 of the Housing Act can be directly project-based when the property “substantially meets Housing Quality Standards” (FAQ 3).
  • The application of relocation protections for all residents across a project regardless of the type of unit occupied by the resident (FAQ 6).
  • While conversion of public housing under RAD does not trigger eligibility for the housing authority to receive Demolition Disposition Transition Funding (i.e., formerly known as Replacement Housing Factor funding) or Asset Repositioning Fee, the housing authority would have access to such funds for the portion of the units removed through Section 18 (FAQ 7).