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.

In a new audit report, HUD’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) questioned certain costs paid by a public housing authority (PHA) for travel by the PHA’s commissioners.  The OIG alleges violations of uniform cost principals at 2 CFR Part 200, state open meeting laws, as well as the PHA’s own policies.  The report is a reminder to:

  • Remember that not all costs incurred while on official PHA business/educational travel are eligible for reimbursement with federal funds.  For example, PHAs should not reimburse commissioners or staff for alcoholic beverages purchased while on official business, even if other aspects of a meal are reimbursable. Although not addressed in this audit, many entertainment and social activity costs are also unallowable, though there are exceptions, such as situations in which such costs have a programmatic purpose.
  • Be mindful of a PHA’s internal policies pertaining to travel and reimbursements. The OIG and others will often look to internal policies to address situations that may be otherwise allowable under federal requirements.
  • Pay attention to potential conflict-of-interest situations. A PHA’s ACCs with HUD as well as procurement regulations and some state laws prohibit certain types of financial arrangements involving a PHA and its staff or commissioners. The ACCs in particular will prohibit these arrangements during and for one year after a commissioner’s tenure.

On February 3, 2016, HUD published a notice in the Federal Register to announce that “it is considering rulemaking to ensure that individuals and families residing in HUD public housing in fact continue to need housing assistance from HUD after admission.”

HUD cites the July 2015 report by its Office of the Inspector General, which found that approximately 25,000 families living in public housing (or less than 3% of all families living in public housing) exceed HUD’s low-income limit, as the impetus for its consideration of rulemaking on this topic.

HUD seeks comments from the public about structuring policies to reduce the number of individuals and families in public housing whose incomes significantly exceed the income limit and have significantly exceeded the income limit for a sustained period of time after initial admission. Comments are due Friday, March 4th.

In particular, HUD solicits comments on the following issues:

1. How should HUD define income that “significantly” exceeds the income limit for public housing residency? Should such higher amount be determined by dollar amount, by a percentage, or as a function of the current income limit, and what should the amount be?

2. Should area cost of living and family finances be taken into consideration when determining whether an individual or family no longer needs public housing assistance? Are there limits to the circumstances in which said data should be requested and applied in a determination?

3. What period of time in which an individual or family has had income that significantly exceeds the income limits should be determined as indicative that the individual or family no longer needs public housing assistance?

4. How should local housing market conditions or housing authority wait list data be considered?

5. What period of time should be allowed for an individual or family to find alternative housing?

6. Are there exceptions to eviction or termination of tenancy that HUD should consider beyond those listed in HUD’s regulation in 24 CFR 960.261?

7. Should HUD allow over-income individuals or families to remain in public housing, while paying unsubsidized or fair market, rent? How would such a provision impact PHA operations and finances?

8. Should HUD require a local appeals process for individuals or families deemed over-income?

9. Where over-income policies have been implemented, what were the results to public housing residents and PHAs? What were the specific positive and negative impacts?

10. What financial impact would over-income policies have on PHA operations, and how can any negative impacts be mitigated?

11. What are the potential costs and benefits to public housing residents and PHAs that could result from the forcible eviction of public housing tenants?

12. What evidence currently exists in favor of or against the adoption of this type of policy?

Comments can be submitted electronically at http://www.regulations.gov/ or to the following address:

Regulations Division
Office of General Counsel
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street SW., Room 10276
Washington, DC 20410–0500