Assessment of Fair Housing Tool for Local Governments with Proposed Changes Now Available

As NAHRO previously reported, on August 23, HUD published a 30-day Notice in the Federal Register seeking additional public feedback on the proposed changes to HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Local Government Assessment Tool (Local Government Tool). The Local Government Tool is the standardized tool that communities receiving HUD Community Planning and Development (CPD) formula grant dollars must use to conduct and submit their Assessments of Fair Housing (AFH).

The 30-day Notice proposes a number of additions to the Local Government Tool that would, ideally, help simplify the AFH process for Qualified Public Housing Authorities (QPHAs), defined as PHAs not designed as “troubled” with a combined unit total of 550 or less, and for local governments receiving small CPD formula grants. The tool would include two new sections for streamlined assessments for QPHAs and small local governments, called “inserts.”  QPHAs and local governments seeking to fulfill their Fair Housing requirements through these streamlined “inserts” must be involved in a joint or regional collaboration with a local government as the lead entity.

The proposed Local Government Tool with the new “inserts” is now available for public viewing on  HUD Exchange. The deadline to respond to the 30-day Notice and comment on the Local Government Tool is September 22, 2016.

Register Now for HUD’s MTW Research Advisory Committee In-Person Meeting

HUD is hosting the MTW Expansion Research Advisory Committee for their 2 day, in-person meeting on Thursday and Friday, September 1 and 2. The in-person meeting will be held on Thursday, September 1, 2016 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) and Friday, September 2, 2016 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (EDT) at HUD Headquarters, 451 7th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20410. The meeting is open to the public and is accessible to individuals with disabilities.

The public is invited to attend both days of the meeting in-person or by phone. Registration will be open from August 22 – August 26. Register here.

The agenda for the meetings can found here.

HUD Makes $33 Million Available for the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program

Yesterday, HUD published the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP) Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA), opening up a competition to award $33 million to up to 10 communities (including 4 rural) across the nation. Awardees of the competition will use the federal resources to design and implement a coordinated community approach to ending youth homelessness.

YHDP applications must be submitted by a community’s  Continuum of Care (CoC) Collaborative Applicant and must be co-developed with a wide spectrum of community partners, including a youth advisory board (required), a state or local child welfare agency (required), youth homelessness housing and service providers, local school districts, workforce development organizations, law enforcement, judges, corrections and more.

YHDP applications are due by Wednesday, November 30, 2016. Additional information on the demonstration program can be found on HUD Exchange.

HUD-VASH Second Round Funding Announced

Yesterday, HUD and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced a second round of HUD-VASH funding. HUD-VASH combines vouchers from HUD with case management and clinical services provided by VA. Since 2008, more than 79,000 vouchers have been awarded. This round of funding provides 108 vouchers and $871,056 worth of funding.

A list of PHAs that have been awarded HUD-VASH vouchers can be found at HUD’s press release here.

HUD Announces Changes to the AFFH Assessment Tools for Small PHAs and Local Governments

On August 23, HUD will publish a 30-day notice in the Federal Register seeking public feedback on the Local Government Assessment Tool, the instrument with which communities receiving HUD Community Planning and Development (CPD) formula grant dollars must use to conduct and submit their Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH) analysis, as required by the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Final Rule.

Due to limited staff and resources, NAHRO has long-requested for HUD to streamline the AFFH assessment tools for small program participants. The 30-day Notice announces two substantial changes that would, ideally, help simplify the AFH process for Qualified Public Housing Authorities (QPHAs), defined as PHAs not designed as “troubled” with a combined unit total of 550 or less, and for local governments receiving small CPD formula grants:

  • HUD seeks to revise the existing Local Government Assessment Tool to include two new streamlined assessments for small program participants, called “inserts.” The first insert would be for use by QPHAs and the second insert would be for use by local governments that received a CBDG grant of $500,000 or less in the most recent fiscal year prior to the AFH due date. QPHAs and local governments seeking to fulfill their AFFH requirements through these streamlined inserts must be involved in a joint or regional collaboration with a local government as the lead entity.
  • HUD seeks to issue a fourth assessment tool for Qualified PHAs. Prior to this notice, HUD had committed to issuing only three AFFH assessment tools (Local Government, State and Insular Areas, and PHA-only). The new QPHA Assessment Tool would be for use by a QPHA or by multiple QPHAs jointly collaborating to submit an AFH. HUD assumes that many QPHAs will want to take advantage of this option, particularly those unable to enter into a joint or regional collaboration with another partner. HUD intends to issue a separate public notice and comment process for this new tool.

The 30-day notice also addresses the public comments received in response to the 60-day information collection notice that was published on March 23, 2016 (see NAHRO’s comments here). NAHRO’s next issue of The Monitor (members only) will have additional details about the contents of the 30-day notice.

GAO Publishes Report on HUD Management

On August 19, the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) made publicly available a report it wrote for congressional requesters. The report found that HUD has “not consistently incorporated requirements and key practices  identified by GAO to help ensure effective management into its operations.”

The report identified five management functions and discusses how completely HUD implemented prior GAO recommendations. Selected excerpts can be found below:

Performance planning and reporting – “HUD met most of the requirements in the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 for its strategic plan and annual performance plan and report . . . [b]ut HUD’s strategic plan does not clearly link HUD’s goals and objectives with federal priority goals.”

Information technology management – “HUD has not demonstrated that it has the capacity to effectively plan for and manage IT projects.”

Human capital management – “HUD has made progress in developing new human capital plans and mostly followed key principle and practices for strategic workforce planning, succession planning, and training planning.”

Financial management – “HUD did not follow seven of eight key practices for financial management.”

Acquisition management – “HUD partially followed key practices for acquisition relating to organizational alignment and human capital.”

The report recommends that HUD take the following eight actions:

  1. Link HUD’s goals and objectives with federal priority goals;
  2. Describe why HUD’s goals were not met and HUD’s plans for achieving them;
  3. Establish procedures and time frames to reach out to Congress and stakeholders to ensure that strategic plan meets statutory requirements;
  4. Establish a process and schedule to review and update HUD’s human capital strategic plan; strategic workforce plan; and succession plan;
  5. Establish a process and schedule to update polices and procedures to help ensure that policies and procedures for key management functions remain current and complete;
  6. Formalize lines of communication between the Chief Information Officer and the agency head;
  7. Designate entities within program offices for fraud risk management activities; and
  8. Develop written policies for conducting program evaluations.

Thanks to PHADA for bringing this report to our attention.

The full report can be found here. The PDF can be found here.

The highlights page can be found here.

FMRs, SAFMRs, and Volatility

Our friends at the National Housing Conference (NHC) and the Public Housing Authorities Director’s Association (PHADA) have written a blog post with a series of beautiful maps on historical Small Area Fair Market Rent (SAFMR) volatility on NHC’s Open House Blog. Here’s a map from the blog post on the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria HUD Metro Fair Market Rent (FMR) area.

https://nahropolicyblog.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/d5a51-washington-arlington-alexandria252c2bdc-va-md2bhud2bmetro2bfmr2barea.jpg?w=406&h=287

I recommend looking at the blog post to read their take on SAFMRs and volatility and to see the other maps.

Here are a couple of points that I would like to note to further this conversation.

The methodology for calculating Fair Market Rents (and SAFMRs) is changing

In calculating the final FY 2016 FMRs HUD switched from a “historical-based annualized change in gross rent trend factor [to] a forward-looking forecast . . . [that] uses a model that forecasts national rent and utility [Consumer Price Index] indices based on economic assumptions used in the formulation of the President’s Budget.”[1] Since the methodology has changed, we need a time horizon of a few years to see if the volatility remains as bad a problem as before the methodological change.

Additionally, Peter Kahn, the Director of HUD PD&R‘s Economic Market Analysis Division, has stated the following:

We are looking at ways throughout the proposed ’17 FMR process of addressing that . . . variability in general. When the proposed ’17 FMRs are out, the . . . you can read that preamble and see that we are trying to take steps to address that variability. (See the YouTube clip where he said that here.)

Will HUD be successful in addressing this volatility? I don’t know, but it’s good that they’re aware of the problem and are taking steps to address the issue.

The passage of the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016 (HOTMA) may give PHAs a tool in managing volatility of payment standards based on both FMRs and SAFMRs

HOTMA has a provision that allows PHAs to hold harmless households that live in areas that receive lower FMRs. Section 107(b) of HOTMA states that “no public housing agency shall be required as a result of a reduction in the fair market rental to reduce the payment standard applied to a family continuing to reside in a unit for which the family was receiving assistance . . . at the time the fair market rental was reduced.” It is NAHRO’s understanding that this provision will apply to payment standards based on FMRs and SAFMRs.

The chart below shows how if a provision allowing for payment standards to be held harmless was in place between 2010 and 2016, then volatility may have been reduced in some instances. The blue line shows the actual Washington-Arlington-Alexandria FMR for 2 Bedroom units. The orange line shows what a payment standard based on that FMR would have been, had it been held harmless.

WashDCHoldharmlessFMRChart-2010-2016

The HOTMA provision has the ability to reduce volatility in certain instances, though holding FMR payment standards harmless may have budget implications. Another point to remember is that when the payment standard starts being held harmless matters. In the chart above, if the payment standard starts being held harmless in 2013, then the volatility that results from increases in the FMR will still occur.

Although the chart above shows a payment standard based on a FMR being held harmless, the same principle would apply to payment standards based on SAFMRs.

[1] – 80 Fed. Reg. 77,124 (December 11, 2015).

NAHRO Submits Comment Letter on PHA Executive Compensation Data Collection

On Aug 19, NAHRO submitted comments to HUD regarding their 30-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection on Executive Compensation Information and HUD Form 52725. The letter states that although NAHRO understands HUD’s statutory requirement to collect information on executive compensation, we remain concerned about the usefulness and relevance of this data collection and its implications regarding the value and merit of operating a PHA, an increasingly difficult and understaffed job. HUD Form 52725 erases meaningful differences among executive roles at varying PHAs, and assumes organizational and governance structures of PHAs are the same across the country.

In this time of budget cuts and ever-increasing regulatory and funding uncertainty, NAHRO is particularly disappointed that the Department continues to devote its oversight resources to efforts such as this that have little or no value rather than focusing on pursuing meaningful regulatory reform that will streamline the delivery of housing and services to low-income Americans.

NAHRO’s letter is available here (members only).

President Issues Disaster Declaration for Southeastern Louisiana

President Obama has issued a disaster declaration for 20 parishes affected by the historic flooding in southeastern Louisiana. This qualifies individuals and local governments for assistance that can help clean-up and rebuild. Furthermore, the President’s declaration allows HUD to offer relief and other assistance to families living in affected areas.For more information on this assistance, please see HUD’s press release here.

As this is a presidentially declared natural disaster, housing authorities in the region will not be eligible to use emergency capital funds to address any damages resulting from the floods. Rather, emergency funding will be made available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Please visit www.disasterassistance.gov to apply for assistance.

NAHRO is keeping those affected by this disaster in our thoughts. For those of you in the affected area, please stay safe.

HUD Publishes Notice on Availability of $5 million for TPVs in Low-Vacancy Areas

Today, HUD published a notice (PIH 2016-12) titled “Funding Availability for Tenant-Protection Vouchers for Certain At-Risk Households in Low-Vacancy Areas — Fiscal Year 2016.” The notice makes available the $5 million set-aside  for “certain at-risk households in low-vacancy areas for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016” from the $130 million appropriated for Tenant Protection Vouchers (TPVs) in general.

The $5 million in TPV assistance is available for the purpose of assisting “residents residing in low-vacancy areas and who either are or may have to pay rents greater than 30 percent of household income” because of the following:

  1. The maturity of a HUD-insured, HUD-held or section 202 loan that would have required the permission of the Secretary prior to loan prepayment;
  2. The expiration of a rental assistance contract for which the tenants are not eligible for enhanced voucher or tenant protection assistance under existing law; or
  3. The expiration of affordability restrictions accompanying a mortgage or preservation program administered by the Secretary.

The TPV assistance may be provided as either enhanced vouchers or project-based voucher (PBV) assistance.

NAHRO’s next issue of The Monitor (members only) will have additional details on the notice.

The full notice can be read here.