Just in time for the end of the federal fiscal year (September 30), the HUD Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a flurry of internal and external audit reports over the last few weeks on a wide variety of topics. They include:

Our friends at NAHRO have alerted us that a new RAD notice will be issued tomorrow, August 23, 2017. The notice requires PHAs who already submitted a RAD letter of interest to preserve their spot on the wait list to submit a RAD application within 60 days if they want to continue in the RAD program. Guidance is also provided for setting rents for all RAD applications awarded outside of the previous 185,000 RAD cap, or for revocations or withdrawals after May 5, 2017 below that cap; rent levels for all such awards will be set at FY 2016 funding levels.  Per the appropriations notice that extended the RAD cap, the outside deadline for final submission of multiphase award applications is extended to September 30, 2020.

Today, the HUD Office of Inspector General (OIG) published a bulletin indicating that it is unclear if undocumented immigrants have access to certain HUD Community Planning and Development (CPD) programs – namely the Housing for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) and homeless assistance programs.

The bulletin explains that undocumented immigrants do not typically have access to HUD programs such as public housing or Section 8 because such programs are explicitly unavailable to such immigrants.  For many HUD-assisted programs, there is a regulation that specifies which types of non-citizen families may have access to those programs and that instructs PHAs and owners on how to prorate assistance to families that include eligible and ineligible persons.

Exempt from this regulation, however, are programs that provide assistance that protects life and safety – essentially emergency services.  The OIG explains that, unlike the public housing and Section 8 programs, “there does not appear to be any clear guidance” as to whether undocumented immigrants can (or cannot) access programs that are funded through HUD’s community development programs and administered through nonprofits, including HOPWA and homeless assistance. Accordingly, the OIG recommends that HUD clarify this issue.

On August 9, HUD issued to Congress its 16th report on worst case housing needs in the United States, based on 2015 data.  Households with “worst case needs” are those that are very low income, do not receive government housing assistance and either pay more than 1/2 of their income for rent or live in severely inadequate conditions, or both.  Findings include:

  • Severe housing problems are increasing despite a decent economy.
  • In 2015, 8.30 million households had worst case needs. This is an increase from 7.72 million in 2013.  The record high for worst case needs is 8.48 million in 2011.
  • Worst case needs affect all types of households, whether examined by age and ethnicity, household structure, or location
    within metropolitan areas or region.

The report identifies a shift from homeownership to renting as the biggest cause of the increase in worst case needs.  For those of us who work with assisted housing or low-income families, its findings are unfortunately not a big surprise.  However, it underscores the significant unmet needs of so many low-income families.

The Senate Committee on Appropriations unanimously voted on July 27, 2017 to approve its FY2018 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) bill.  The bill eliminates the cap in the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, which has been supported by Secretary Carson, and also removes RAD’s sunset date.  In addition to the advancements in RAD, some additional rental assistance highlights of the bill include:

  • Increase in tenant-based Section 8 vouchers to $21.365 billion ($1.07 billion above the FY2017 enacted level);
  • Increase in public housing funding to $6.45 billion ($103.5 million above the FY2017 enacted level);
  • Increase in project-based Section 8 to $11.5 billion ($691 million above the FY2017 enacted level);
  • Increase in Housing for the Elderly to $573 million ($70.6 million above the FY2017 enacted level); and
  • Increase in Housing for Persons with Disabilities to $147 million for  (nearly $1.0 million above the FY2017 enacted level).

The Senate Committee on Appropriations released an overall summary of the bill that can be found here.  Unlike the drastic cuts seen in the House’s THUD bill, the Senate’s bill delivers increased overall funding of $60.058 billion ($3.5 billion higher than the House). This funding level represents an increase of $2.407 billion over current levels.  While many speculate neither the Senate nor the House will move their respective THUD bill to the floor, the Senate’s funding levels represent a step in the right direction for those that rely on many HUD programs.


On June 28, 2017, HUD issued Notice PIH 2017-10 (HA) (the “Notice”) providing guidance on the implementation of the Housing Choice Voucher (“HCV”) program funding provisions of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017 (the “2017 Act”).

Under the 2017 Act, HUD received a total of $20,292,000,000 in funding for the Housing Choice Voucher program for the following budget items:

  • HAP Renewal Funding ($18,355,000,000)
  • Tenant Protection Vouchers ($110,000,000)
  • Administrative Fees ($1,650,000,000)
  • Mainstream 5 Year Program (120,000,000)
  • Tribal HUD-VASH Renewals ($7,000,000)
  • Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing ($40,000,000)
  • Family Unification Program ($10,000,000)

As evidenced in the Notice, the allocation methodology used to calculate housing assistance payments renewal funds, new incremental vouchers and administrative fees mostly continues the methodology established under the 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act. We have highlighted some notable differences and new requirements below:

  1. The 2017 Act provides funding for Tribal HUD-VASH Renewals and the Family Unification Program. Per the Notice, further guidance for both programs will be issued at a later date. Guidance for the Tribal HUD-VASH Renewals will come from the Office of Native American Programs and a NOFA will be published directing the use of the Family Unification Funding.
  2. HUD is estimating that the $75 million dollar set-aside of HAP Renewal Funding will be necessary to prevent the termination of rental assistance for families as a result of insufficient funding of the voucher program. Applications for the other categories of set-aside funding: Unforeseen Circumstances, Portability Cost Increases, Project-Based Vouchers and HUD-VASH will not be accepted, unless there are remaining set-aside funds. The applications for shortfall funding will remain open throughout 2017, however PHA’s already within a Shortfall Protection Team with confirmed shortfalls in September, October or November of 2017 must submit an application no later than 5:00pm EST, Friday July 28, 2017 and those with confirmed shortfalls in December 2017, should submit an application no later than 5:00pm EST, Monday, January 22, 2018.
  3. The Tenant Protection Voucher set aside has also been increased to provide funding up to $110,000,000 to assist certain at-risk households in low-vacancy areas, who pay rents above 30% AMI as a result of certain conditions. The Notice clarifies that these TPVs are considered replacement vouchers and are not subject to the same re-issuance restrictions that apply to relocation vouchers. HUD noted that further guidance on the TPV set-aside is forthcoming and that until it is issued; HUD will not consider any applications for TPV set-aside funding.
  4. Section 6 of the Notice also provides significant detail on the process for awarding and applying for TPVs. It also explains under what circumstances tenants may be eligible for such vouchers.
  5. With respect to Administrative Fees, the Notice clarifies that no additional request may be made after the June 23rd deadline for Blended Rate Administrative Fees and Higher Administrative Fee Rates.

We will keep you posted as additional guidance is issued for these programs.

The new HUD administration has been pretty quiet on the regulatory front, with only a handful of regulations and notices issued since January. That may change soon. HUD is hard at work identifying regulatory changes that might be made to comply with Executive Order (EO) 13771, “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs.”  The EO requires that two regulations be eliminated for each new regulation issued and that the overall costs of new regulations, including repealed regulations, this year be zero. In February 2017, the Office of Management and Budget issued guidance for implementing the EO, and now HUD  seeks the public’s input into which regulations it could modify or eliminate.  Recommendations are due June 14, 2017.

Over the years, a number of groups and agencies have submitted recommendations to HUD for regulatory reform, and this is a good time to reconsider those proposals.  Since the request is for modifications to regulations, not statutes, recommendations should focus upon regulations and guidance that is not required by federal law.  Areas Ballard Spahr has been thinking about recommending changes include:

  • Better ways to implement prevailing wage rate requirements at mixed-use projects where the prevailing wages need not be paid for the full project;
  • Streamlining of the demolition/disposition process for public housing;
  • Modifications to site and neighborhood standards;
  • Modification of the public housing asset management rules;
  • Requirements for designation of public housing as elderly-only; and
  • Thoughtful modifications to affirmatively furthering fair housing requirements.

Earlier in May, HUD received approval from the Office of Management and Budget of the final, revised form RAD documents. HUD had previously solicited two rounds of public comment as part of the Paperwork Reduction Act process.  Ballard’s comments to HUD’s first solicitation of comments can be found here and our comments to the second round here. The final, revised form documents reflect HUD’s incorporation of many of the submitted comments – including comments received as part of the second round of public comment in October 2016.

The May 11th RADBlast! indicates that the revised forms must be utilized for any closing package submitted to HUD on or after June 1, 2017. Many of the revised RAD documents are available in Word format on HUD’s RAD website and both the old and new forms are available on the RAD Resource Desk. For the convenience of our readers, we’ve uploaded copies of the final, revised forms for public housing RAD conversions (RAD First Component) compared to the prior form documents – and you’ll immediately notice the riders to RAD Use Agreement and the HAP Contracts have been incorporated into the body of the respected documents:

If you’ve been following the progression of the revised RAD documents and would like to see the changes made to the documents since they were published for comment in October 2016, please contact me (mohra@ballardspahr.com or 410.528.5337)  and I will be happy to send you comparison copies of these interim revisions.

Overall, HUD was receptive to stakeholder comments and the revised documents reflect the collective knowledge gleaned over the last five years. We look forward to continuing to advance the RAD program.

HUD’s Office of Recapitalization recently released a memo to all CHAP awardees setting forth closing deadlines for CY 2017 RAD transactions. Awardees should be especially  mindful of these intermediate deadlines to ensure that their RAD projects can be promptly processed.

 

Step

Deadline to close by June 30, 2017 Deadline to close by Nov. 30, 2017 Deadline to close by Dec. 31, 2017
Upload all required Financing Plan documents Completed June 15 July 15
Receive a RAD Conversion Commitment (RCC) Completed August 15 September 15
Submit complete closing package April 15 September 1 October 1
All RAD documents approved and ready for HUD signatures June 22 November 16 December 14

Other key takeaways from the memo include the following:

  • Projects that wish to have RAD rents funded with Section 8 subsidy beginning in January 1, 2018 must close by November 30, 2017.
  • In addition to the priority categories listed in Section 1.11 of the RAD Notice, HUD will prioritize projects adhering to the deadlines and those with demonstrable critical deadlines beyond the control of the housing authority and its development team.
  • HUD may require an update to the Financing Plan and re-issuance of the RAD Conversion Commitment (RCC) if the RCC has aged over 6 months.

 

Comments on the following HUD and housing related guidance are due this month.

  • HOTMA implementation for Section 8 Voucher Programs – Due March 20, 2017

On January 18, 2017, HUD issued a proposed rule to implement certain sections of the Housing Opportunities through Modernization Act of 2016 (HOTMA) that affect the tenant-based Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) and Project-Based Voucher (PBV) programs. Among other changes, the proposed rule amends the definition of public housing authority (PHA) owned housing, and institutes new provisions regarding housing quality inspection requirements for both the HCV and PBV programs. HUD is seeking public comment on a variety of questions surrounding the implementation requirements and future changes of both programs.

Comments may be submitted to HUD  electronically at www.regulations.gov (Docket No. FR-5976-N-03) or by mail to the Regulations Division, Office of General Counsel, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th Street SW., Room 10276, Washington, DC 20410-0500.

  • Moving to Work (MTW) Demonstration Operations Notice – Due March 24, 2017

As noted in our previous blog post, HUD is soliciting comments to its Operations Notice for the expansion of the MTW Program. The full list of questions for which HUD seeks public comment is listed in Appendix C of the Notice. Comments can be submitted electronically at www.regulations.gov (Docket No. FR-5994-N-01)  or by mail to the same address noted above.

  • DOJ Proposed Rule amending Section 504 Regulations – Due March 20, 2017

On January 19, 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to revise its regulations at 28 CFR Part 42 that implement Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 504 prohibits discrimination based on disability in all programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. Key revisions include amending the interpretation of the applicable definition of  “disability”;  updating accessibility standards for new construction and alteration of buildings and other facilities; and editing various provisions and terminology to promote consistency with judicial decisions and the Americans with Disabilities Act and related amendments.

Comments may be submitted to DOJ (1) electronically through www.regulations.gov (Docket No. OAG 154); (2) by regular mail to Disability Rights Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, P.O. Box 2885, Fairfax, VA 22031-0885; or (3) by overnight, courier, or hand delivery to Disability Rights Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 1425 New York Avenue NW., Suite 4055, Washington, DC 20005.

The following lists additional housing news our readers may have missed recently —

  • Dr. Ben Carson Confirmed as HUD Secretary

On March 2, 2017, Dr. Ben Carson was sworn in as the 17th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. According to  HUD’s press release, Secretary Carson intends to embark on a listening tour of various HUD field offices and communities throughout the country.

  • Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2017 introduced in U.S. Senate

In an effort to help reform the low-income housing tax credit, Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2017 (S. 548), along with several other Democratic and Republican co-sponsors on March 7th. The bill includes and expands upon similar legislation introduced by the Senators last year (S. 2962 and S. 3237). Visit the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition’s S. 548 advocacy page for more in-depth summaries of the bill’s provisions and comparisons between the current bill and 2016 legislation. Interested persons can also track the bill’s progress at www.congress.gov.

  • Public Housing Authorities prevail in Operating Reserves Litigation

In late January, the United States Court of Federal Claims ruled in favor of approximately 350 public housing authorities on the merits of a motion for summary judgment against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Led by housing industry groups, the complaint alleged that HUD breached its Annual Contributions Contract with the PHAs for fiscal year 2012 when the formula used for budget calculations and allocations did not property follow HUD regulations and thus reduced the operating fund subsidies the PHAs were eligible for in that year. A full copy of the Court’s decision can be accessed here.  Plaintiffs’ attorneys were advised to file a status report in February 2017 to advise how the Court should proceed with the case.