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Less Than 40 Days Until August Recess - Support Small Housing Agency Reform Today

Jun 5, 2016

 

Less than 40 days remain before Congress recesses on July 15.  PHADA and NAHRO urge their members to use the next few weeks to promote small housing agency reform legislation both in the House (H.R. 4816 – Small Public Housing Agency Opportunity Act of 2016) and in the Senate (S. 2292 -The Small Public Housing Agency Opportunity Act of 2015).

It is very important that Congress knows that regulatory streamlining for small will help save time and money at more than 2,700 small housing agencies by eliminating excessive HUD reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

Please ask your Members of Congress:

1) to support SHARP legislation, and

2) to contact their colleagues on Senate Banking or the House Financial Services Committees to act on the SHARP bills during this session.

PHADA and NAHRO hope that every housing agency will assist in this important advocacy endeavor. Please call, write or email Congress to ask support for SHARP. Enlist your commissioners and community partners to promote SHARP as well. The Committees of jurisdiction for SHARP will only take up the bills when they see a groundswell of support across the Congress and in the Committees. Your efforts matter

Please visit NAHRO’s Advocacy Action Center today to send letters to your legislators urging them to support this important legislation.

 

FY 2017 House Appropriations Bill In-Depth: Section 8

Jun 1, 2016

 

On May 24, the House Appropriations Committee passed the FY 2017 Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) appropriations bill with a manager’s amendment added. The bill allocates $48.2 billion for the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). NAHRO has already published its coverage of the Public Housing and Community Revitalization and Development provisions of the House bill. The following article is NAHRO’s Section 8 coverage of the bill.

Although NAHRO will continue to follow and provide detailed updates on the T-HUD bill as it moves forward in the House, statements from House leadership suggest potential bumps in the road in the House appropriations process. These statements came after the House failed to pass a final vote on its Energy and Water bill due to a controversial amendment. It is unclear whether the House will attempt to take up either the Energy and Water bill again or any other appropriations bills. This would be unfortunate, as the entire T-HUD appropriations process would come to a halt once again due to an unrelated, non-spending issue.

Major items in this House Appropriations bill related to the Section 8 program include the following:

 

●        An administrative fee proration of 79 percent, under the current formula, with an instruction for HUD to continue using the current formula;

●        No new special purpose vouchers, though the Committee “encourages HUD to facilitate the issuance of vouchers for vulnerable populations, including families that face homelessness, as vouchers become available to PHAs upon turnover”;

●        Removal of the mobility demonstration program included in the President’s proposed budget and the Senate bill; and

●        Full funding for Project-Based Rental Assistance Contracts.

Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA)

Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Housing Assistance Payments (HAP): The House bill proposes $18.312 billion for HAP renewals. This is $43 million less than the Senate bill and $135 million less than the President’s proposed budget allocation.

HAP Renewal Formula: Like the Senate bill and the President’s proposed budget, the House bill calls for HAP renewal funding based on validated CY 2016 VMS leasing and cost data adjusted by an inflation factor set by the Secretary. Enacted budgets have used a formula which bases renewals on actual HAP costs and utilization since 2007.

HAP Set-Aside Funds: The House Appropriations bill, like the Senate bill, would allocate $75 million for HAP set-aside funding to four categories. The four categories would be the following: (1) PHAs that experience a significant increase in renewal costs of vouchers resulting from unforeseen circumstances or from portability; (2) vouchers that were not in use during the 12-month period in order to be available to meet PBV commitments; (3) costs experienced with HUD-VASH vouchers; and (4) PHAs that would be required to terminate rental assistance despite taking cost-saving measures. A fifth category, which was in the President’s proposed budget--costs associated with a housing mobility program--was not included in the Senate Appropriations bill.

HAP Cost-Saving Measures: Unlike the President’s budget and similar to the Senate bill, the House bill does not raise the medical expense threshold deduction from three percent to ten percent. Absent offsetting provisions, NAHRO has consistently opposed this change, noting the undue burden it would place on elderly and disabled households. The House bill does allow the consideration of targeting and utility allowances on PHAs’ contract renewal needs.

NRA/HUD-Held HAP Reserves Offset: Similar to the President’s budget proposal and the Senate Appropriations bill, the House bill would authorize HUD to offset PHAs’ calendar year (CY) 2017 allocations based on the excess amounts of PHAs’ net restricted assets accounts, including HUD-held programmatic reserves (in accordance with VMS data in calendar year 2016 that is verifiable and complete). PHAs participating in the MTW demonstration would also be subject to the offset, except those MTW agencies that are “subject to the single fund budget authority provisions of their MTW agreements, from the agencies’ calendar year 2017 MTW funding allocation.” This is similar to the Senate bill, but varies from the President’s proposed budget, which would allow HUD to offset amounts subject to the single fund budget authority provisions of their MTW agreements.

HUD-VASH: The House Appropriations bill, like the President’s proposed budget, does not allocate any money for HUD-VASH vouchers, except for $7 million for HUD-VASH “to serve Native American veterans that are homeless or at-risk of homelessness living on or near a reservation or other [Native American] areas.” The differs from the Senate bill, which allocated $50 million for additional HUD-VASH vouchers in addition to $7 million for HUD-VASH vouchers for Native Americans.

Family Unification Program: The House Appropriations bill, like the President’s proposed budget, would not provide any additional money for new Family Unification Program (FUP) vouchers. This is in contrast to the Senate Appropriations bill which allocated $20 million for FUP vouchers.

Incremental Vouchers for Families with Children Experiencing Homelessness: Like the Senate appropriations bill, the House bill does not provide any funding for rental voucher assistance for families with children who are experiencing homelessness. The President’s proposed budget would have provided $88 million for rental voucher assistance for families with children who are experiencing homelessness.

ACC Caps: The House bill, like the Senate Appropriations bill, maintains the ACC Caps, restricting non-MTW PHAs from expending HAP to fund any unit months exceeding  the PHA’s authorized number of units under contract. The President’s budget proposal would have allowed PHAs with sufficient funding to exceed those caps.

Tenant Protection Vouchers: The House appropriations bill would provide $110 million for the first-time funding of Tenant Protection Vouchers (TPVs). These TPVs are to be used for the following: (1) relocation and replacement of public housing units that are demolished or disposed; (2) conversions of section 23 projects; (3) the Family Unification Program; (4) witness relocation; (5) enhanced vouchers; (6) Hope VI; (7) Choice Neighborhoods; (8) mandatory and voluntary conversion of public housing; and, (9) tenant protection assistance for elderly residents of properties formerly assisted under Section 202. Unlike the Senate bill and the President’s proposed budget, there is a set aside of $5 million for tenant protection assistance to residents in low vacancy areas and who may have to pay rents greater than thirty percent of household income as a result of certain other conditions.

Ongoing Administrative Fees: The House bill allocates $1.640 billion for ongoing administrative fees. NAHRO estimates this to be a 77 percent proration under the current administrative fee formula and a 79 percent proration under the new proposed administrative fee formula. The House bill also instructs HUD to continue to use the current administrative fee formula, though HUD is still moving forward with developing a new formula.

HUD is in the process of developing a new administrative fee formula based on findings and recommendations from the HCV Administrative Fee Study as well as comments received from interested stakeholders (NAHRO’s comments can be found here). HUD has previously stated that “their goal is to complete the proposed and final rulemaking in time to allow the new fee formula to be implemented for calendar year 2017.” The next iteration of the proposed formula should be out for comment soon.

As before, NAHRO will continue to take a two-pronged approach in addressing this issue. First, NAHRO will make sure that legislators are aware of how this formula impacts their regions so that they do not rush to give HUD the authority to unilaterally change the formula, until there is a well-developed formula that takes into account all the costs of administering a HCV program. Second, NAHRO will continue to work with HUD to improve the formula to address its flaws, so that it accurately captures all costs associated with running a HCV program.

Additional Administrative Fees: The Senate bill allocates up to $10 million in additional administrative fees, which would be available to PHAs that need additional funding to administer their HCV program, including fees associated with tenant protection rental assistance, disaster-related vouchers, HUD-VASH, and other special purpose incremental vouchers.

Mobility Demonstration: The House bill does not include the mobility demonstration included in the President’s proposed budget and the Senate Appropriations bill. NAHRO supports this completely voluntary mobility demonstration program.

Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA)

Project-Based Rental Assistance: The House bill allocates $10.901 billion for Project-Based Rental Assistance. This is the same number allocated by the Senate bill. The PBRA program assists approximately 1.2 million extremely low- to low-income households in obtaining decent, safe, and sanitary homes and supports approximately 17,400 contracts with private owners of multifamily housing.

The House Committee notes that performance-based contract administrators are “integral to the Department’s efforts to reduce improper payments, protect residents, and ensure properties are well-maintained.” The Committee directs HUD to award PBCA contracts under “full and open competition and without geographic limitation.”

Miscellaneous Provisions

Fair Market Rents (FMRs): The House bill, like the Senate bill, removes a provision in the President’s budget that would have allowed for HUD to publish FMRs on their website, instead of in the Federal Register. In the President’s budget, HUD stated that “[w]hile HUD would continue to announce proposed FMRs with a Federal Register notice seeking comment on the proposed FMRs and any proposed methodology, the FMRs themselves would be published on a HUD web site rather than printed in the Federal Register.” HUD believed that this would result in annual printing savings of $90,000 to $100,000.

The House Committee Report echoes NAHRO’s statements on FMRs when it urges “the Department to improve the process concerning fair market rents (FMRs).” It also recommends that FMRs be published no later than July 1st, so that PHAs have the opportunity to consider them before the October 1st publishing date. The Committee directs the Department to establish a clear process for PHAs  to follow to request a reevaluation of FMRs, where there is a “demonstrable difficulty placing voucher tenants in units.” Finally, the Committee directs HUD, where available, to “incorporate the most recent, statistically reliable, regional data on rents paid in a market when determining FMRs for a community.”

Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH): The Committee notes that the guidance for the new AFFH rule is vague and directs HUD to communicate with stakeholders. The Committee also directs HUD to work with stakeholders “to address their concerns, and continue to refine the tools and resources available to stakeholders to comply with the new rule. NAHRO has recently submitted comments for the State and Insular tool (which has a streamlined set of requirements for Qualified PHAs) and also submitted comments for the PHA-only tool. NAHRO also submitted comments on an information collection for the Local Government tool, so that HUD may continue to make refinements to the tool.

Family Self-Sufficiency: The Committee recommends $75 million to support the Family Self-Sufficiency program. This is the same amount as the FY 2016 enacted budget and the same amount as the President’s proposed budget.

MTW Study: The House bill allocates up to $2 million for an MTW study.

Homeless veterans on U.S.-Mexico Border: The Committee notes that there are many homeless veterans living on the U.S.-Mexico border that have not historically been counted in Point-In-Time Homeless Surveys and directs the Department to develop strategies and recommendations for housing this population.

Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD): The House bill does not include any additional funding for the RAD program. The Committee also believes that the current cap of 185,000 units remains sufficient, since only a fraction of that number of units have been completed.

Triennial Recertifications: The House bill, unlike the Senate bill, does not include a provision that requires HUD to implement the triennial recertification provisions of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act through a notice, as long as it also does rulemaking that allows for public comment and the rulemaking process ends within six months of the publication of the notice.

Simplifying the Project-Based Voucher Cap Calculation: The House bill, like the Senate bill, does not have a provision to simplify the cap calculation of the project-based voucher cap. The President’s proposed budget included a provision that would simplify the cap calculation  for the project-based voucher program. Currently, the law states that not more than 20 percent of the funding available to tenant-based assistance that is administered by a PHA may be project-based. Under this provision in the President’s proposed budget, the 20 percent cap on project-based vouchers (PBVs) would be based on a unit-based calculation instead of the current funding based calculation.

Questions? Contact Tushar Gurjal at tgurjal@nahro.org.

Additional Resources:



State Legislative Position Paper



        
         
      




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