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Take Action: Deadline Approaching to Sign On In Support of HUD Funding

Posted March 11, 2014

Please join the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition in signing on to the National Low Income Housing Coalition‘s letter in support of increasing the THUD 302(b) allocation!

Deadline to sign on is tomorrow Wednesday, March 12, but the website will remain open for signatures through Thursday the 13th.

Please sign your organization on to the letter today!

Over 1,800 organizations who have already signed a letter in support of increasing the THUD 302(b) allocation!  Some more background from NLIHC:

The House and Senate Committees on Appropriations will soon decide how much funding each appropriations subcommittee will receive in FY15. This funding allocation for subcommittees, called the 302(b), will determine how much funding is available for HUD programs in FY15.

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT

It is critical that the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Subcommittees in the House and Senate receive 302(b) allocations that are at the highest possible levels. Adequate 302(b) allocations will help ensure that the THUD Subcommittees have the resources they need to fully fund all housing programs.

HOW YOU CAN TAKE ACTION

House and Senate appropriators need to hear from you! Join housing, community development, and transportation advocates around the country by signing a letter urging the highest possible 302(b) allocations.

Last year, over 2,400 organizations signed on in support of increasing the THUD 302(b) allocation. Members of Congress noted the significance of the letter, and it made a positive impact on the amount of funding available for housing and transportation programs. Help make a difference in FY15 by joining this year’s effort!

 

For more information email outreach@nlihc.org with any questions.

 



HUD: Homelessness on the Rise in Vermont

Posted November 27, 2013

According to a report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Vermont has seen an increase in homelessness from 2012 to 2013. The HUD study showed nationally a decline in the total numbers of those homeless.  The HUD study uses data from a count conducted on a single night, known as the Point-in-Time.  This report is from data collected last January. Vermont Public Radio has more:

While the number of homeless people in Vermont went up from 1,160 to 1,454, the number of “unsheltered” homeless Vermonters (those who aren’t in emergency shelters or transitional housing) went down from 223 to 184.

With decreased federal assistance – Department of Children and Families Commissioner Dave Yacavone said Vermont lost 774 Section 8 vouchers – state and local services have to do more to keep up.

One of those services is the John Graham Shelter in Vergennes, which opened additional space this year. Director Elizabeth Ready says the new transitional housing facility is already occupied.

“We’re also seeing people staying for longer periods,” Ready said. “An average of 60 days, people are staying at the shelter, and we used to see people staying like 21 days.”

The federal report comes after Ready and other community representatives gave Gov. Peter Shumlin a set of recommendations for how the state can help bring down the number of homeless Vermonters.

Listen and read the full VPR report here.

 



HUD Launches Affordable Care Act Resource Library Page

Posted October 22, 2013

HUD has announced the launch of the Resource Library Page for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on the OneCPD Resource Exchange. The webpage has been designed to help housing and homeless services providers, clients, and advocates easily access information about health reform as it relates to housing. The site includes:

  • General and state-specific information on the implementation of the ACA and Medicaid reform
  • An overview of ACA and Medicaid Reform
  • Specifics related to ACA and housing and homeless services
  • Links to important enrollment sites for clients
  • A searchable ACA Resource Library
  • Regularly updated state surveillance information

Provider agencies and advocates, including Continuum of Care (CoC), Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) and Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) funded agencies, should use the site to assist people to gain access to health insurance, learn about the impact of ACA, and develop agency-level strategies for client enrollment and accessing possible funding opportunities. The information is also intended to provide topical information for people who are homeless, living with HIV/AIDS, and uninsured.

If you have questions about the ACA Resource Library page, please email info@onecpd.info.

See alsoAffordable Care Act State and Territory Profiles

 



More on Federal Government Shutdown’s Impact on Vermont

Posted October 3, 2013

Into the third day of the federal government shutdown we are learning more about the effects the shutdown are having in Vermont.

All non-essential federal employees are on furlough, the state office of HUD and the regional office of USDA Rural Development are closed, and websites are down.  Rural Development can’t make new loans to home buyers, process new grants, or renew Rental Assistance contracts.  Rental Assistance disbursements will continue.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition has more on what the shutdown means for HUD’s programs:

HUD’s largest rental assistance programs, the Housing Choice Voucher, Public Housing, and Project-Based Rental Assistance programs, appear to have funding to continue normal operations through October, either through previously-obligated funding or advance appropriations. After October, HUD’s contingency plan is largely silent…

HUD outlined shutdown status for these major programs:

  • Tenant-Based Rental Assistance. According to HUD’s plan, October’s Housing Assistance Payments and administrative fees will be disbursed but there are no payments beyond October scheduled to be disbursed at this time. HUD will not process requests for tenant protection vouchers for public housing or multifamily actions during the shutdown.
  • Project-Based Rental Assistance. HUD plans to draw on advanced appropriations to continue housing payments for project-based contracts for October. According to HUD’s plan, it will make some payments under Section 8 contracts, rent supplement, Section 236, and project rental assistance contracts (PRACs) where there is budget authority available from prior appropriations or recaptures. HUD will not process any Section 8 contract renewal or waiver requests during the shutdown.
  • Public Housing. Local public housing agencies (PHAs) are not federal government entities and thus will not shut down. But, PHAs receive significant federal funding and their hours and capacities may be impacted by the federal shutdown. HUD’s contingency plan predicts that most of the country’s 3,300 PHAs have the necessary funds to continue providing public housing assistance for the remainder of the month. However, depending on the length of the shutdown, some PHAs may not be able to maintain normal operations. HUD recommends that local PHAs be contacted for information as to their operating levels.
  • Homeless Assistance Grants. According to the contingency plan, HUD homeless assistance grants, including supportive housing for veterans and housing for people with AIDS, will continue to be funded “to protect against imminent threats to the safety of human life.”
  • HOME Investment Partnerships Program, CDBG. According to HUD’s plan, it will “continue to disburse CDBG, HOME funds, and other block grant funds in cases where failure to address issues result in a threat to safety of life and protection of property.” HUD’s plan indicates that “cities and states would not be able to receive additional CDBG funds,” but HUD will disburse CDBG, HOME, and other block grant funds that have already been appropriated, and competitive funds that have been awarded and are under grant agreement.

Mike McNamara, Vermont’s HUD Field Director, was unable to host his monthly program on Channel 17 due to being furloughed from the shutdown. Erhard Mahnke of VAHC and Ted Wimpey, Director of the Fair Housing Project at CVOEO, were able to fill-in and give viewers an update on the federal government shutdown’s impact on Vermont housing.  Watch the full program here.

On Vermont Edition, VPR’s Jane Hindholm interviewed Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding, General Steven Cray of the Vermont Air and National Guard, Paul Behrman Director of the CVOEO Head Start Program, Marissa Parisi of Hunger Free Vermont, among others who gave more information on how the shutdown is impacting programs across the state.  Listen to the show here.

See also: Contingency Plans of the Housing Agencies

 



Federal Government Shutdown Impact on Housing in Vermont

Posted October 1, 2013

The Burlington Free Press (PDF) has an article up on some of the impact the federal government shutdown is having in Vermont:

Maura Collins, policy and planning manager at the Vermont Housing Finance Agency, said Vermont uses the rural development home loan program more than other federally guaranteed loan programs. In this shutdown, she said, the rural development program is affected by the federal shutdown, while Veterans Administration and Federal Housing Administration loan programs are left alone. As a result, Vermont might see a greater impact than locations where the other loans are more popular.

Collins said lenders are struggling Tuesday to decide whether to continue to take applications for the rural development loan program and what to do with applications already in process.

Housing Matters has some of the contingency plans of the housing agencies:

HUD recently released its 2013 Contingency Plan for Possible Lapse in Appropriations.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development programs have also released contingency plans.

Forbes has more on the potential impact the shutdown will have on the housing market nationally. Approximately $300 million will be lost every day the federal government remains shutdown.

 



HUD Fair Market Rent Changes

Posted September 17, 2013

Last month HUD published in the Federal Register their proposed FY 2014 Fair Market Rents (FMRs).  The FMR is considered to be the 40th percentile of gross rents (cost associated with rent plus utilities) for typical, non-substandard rental units occupied by recent movers in a local housing market. The determined FMR in an area significantly impacts numerous individuals and families in various housing assistance programs.

FMRs are primarily used to determine payment standards for the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, Moderate Rehabilitation Single Room Occupancy program, initial renewal rents for some Section 8 contracts, and to serve as rent ceilings in the HOME program.

Those dealing with housing issues in Vermont found HUD’s determination not to accurately reflect the rental market for the state, and in particular for three counties – in BenningtonWindham, and Windsor.

A number of organizations dealing with housing, including the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition, have jointly submitted comments to HUD voicing these concerns:

Of the 11 rural counties, eight have proposed FMRs that are lower than median rents according to recent rental studies. That said, the agencies signed below have prioritized studying Bennington, Windham and Windsor counties because of the adverse impact these lower FMRs will have on existing Housing Choice Voucher residents, as well as rent ceilings for the HOME and Shelter Plus Care programs.

The dramatically lower proposed FMRs in these three counties and the local and state PHA’s inability to raise its allowable payment standards any higher than they already are will undoubtedly harm many current Housing Choice Voucher residents. They will be in a position to either become cost-burdened despite having a Housing Choice voucher, or be forced to leave their home and struggle to find a new unit with a rent level far below what’s available locally.

The American Community Survey (ACS) is used to determine the FMR.  Rural states like Vermont deal with small sample sizes which can skew results far from what the FMR should be considered in a community.   The Vermont State Housing Authority objected to the proposed changes, and submitted additional comments:

It is our position that the limited ACS sample sizes leads to inaccurate projected rents.  The best way for HUD to determine accurate FMR’s is through the performance of Rent Surveys.  In fact, this proved to be the case in Burlington – South Burlington Vermont in FFY2013.  HUD agreed to the performance of a Rent Survey, in response to practitioners comments, and found the actual 40th percentile rents were 27% higher than the 2012 FMR.

In general, we believe that HUD’s methodology for formulating the FMRs in Vermont is flawed — as the rental housing markets in Vermont have not reversed course so dramatically on an annual basis, as suggested by the dramatic increases and decreases in FMRs over a four year period.

To give a picture of those increases and decreases, as well as how recent market comparability studies show the purposed FMRs are well below market trends take a look at the following tables:

 

FMR TrendsFMRs

 

Those who most closely follow housing market data and housing cost trends can clearly see discrepancies between the proposed FMRs and identified area’s current rental market costs.  VAHC and others have asked HUD for FY 2013 FMRs to remain in effect until HUD or the Vermont-based housing community can conduct the needed surveys to set FMRs true to the current markets.

Multiple Vermont Organization’s Joint Letter to HUD

Vermont State Housing Authority’s Letter to HUD

 

 



Leahy, Sanders, Welch announce grants totaling more than $1 M for economic development planning in east-central and northwestern Vermont

Posted November 22, 2011

(MONDAY, Nov. 21) – Senator Patrick Leahy (D), Senator Bernie Sanders (I) and Congressman Peter Welch (D) announced Monday that the Northwest Regional Planning Commission and the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission will receive economic development planning grants totaling more than a million dollars from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The two grants are among only a few dozen regional planning projects approved by HUD nationwide …

Link to Full Article

PDF of Full Article

 



HUD and Rural Development Budget Updates

Posted

As you may know, late last week Congress passed and the President signed H.R. 2112, the “mini-bus” Appropriations Bill that funded federal FY 12 appropriations for HUD, USDA Rural Development, Transportation and several other agencies. As you will see from the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s extensive analysis below, most of the news for housing and community development is very bad.

Fortunately for Vermont there is a silver lining, as Senator Leahy, taking the lead for the Vermont delegation, was able to get an additional $400 million in CDBG dedicated to disaster relief. We don’t know yet how much of that Vermont will receive, but it is my understanding that we should do relatively well. Also on the good news side, HUD Housing Counseling Assistance was restored at $45 million, which brings it back up to just over 50% of the federal FY 10 funding level. This will help provide key funding for Vermont’s five HomeOwnership Centers, CVOEO’s Mobile Home Project, BROC, CVCAC and Opportunities Credit Union. The other really good news, as you have probably heard, is that the Transportation budget significantly benefits Irene recovery efforts by providing additional funds for highway disaster relief and by removing caps on federal assistance, both of which will take significant pressure off the State’s FY 13 budget.

All three member of the Congressional delegation deserve our thanks for their incredibly hard work to generate good news for Vermont amid what is otherwise a bleak federal funding picture. Please take a moment to drop delegation staff a thank you for their and their bosses’ good efforts.

I have not yet had the time to estimate the losses Vermont will sustain as a result of some of the deep cuts to key housing and community development programs. My preliminary analysis indicates that, between the State and Burlington, Vermont will lose approximately $900,000 in formula CDBG funds. That’s in addition to the $1.5 million we already lost in federal FY 11. Vermont will also lose approximately another $600,000 in HOME funds on top of the $500,000 lost in FY 11. Although H.R. 2112 adopted the generally higher Senate funding levels for the USDA Rural Development budget, it still contains deep cuts to Section 502 Single Family Direct, 515 Multi-Family, 521 Rental Assistance, and other key programs. The direct impact on Vermont of all the cuts is as yet unclear. I will work with our State funding agencies to come up with detailed estimates in the coming weeks.

In other federal news, on November 15 HUD released long-awaited regulations for the HEARTH Act, including the interim rule for the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) Program, the final rule on the definition of the term “homeless,” and the second allocation for FY11 ESG funds, which will yield an additional $205,000 for Vermont’s shelters and homeless assistance programs. See the NLIHC summary below for more information.

For additional information on the HUD and Rural Development budgets:

Wishing you all a great Thanksgiving


NATIONAL LOW INCOME HOUSING COALITION MEMO TO MEMBERS

November 18, 2011

***Final FY12 Budget Cuts HUD, Rural Housing Programs

On November 17, Congress passed H.R. 2112, the minibus appropriations bill that includes three spending bills: Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD), S. 1596; Agriculture, Rural Housing, and Food and Drug Administration, H.R. 2112; and Commerce, Justice, and Science, H.R. 2596 (see Memo, 11/11). The bill underfunds HUD and Rural Housing programs, cutting many programs deeply.

The conference committee approved its report on the bill on November 14. Thirty-seven of 38 members signed, with Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) the only dissenting vote. The House approved the conference report on November 17 by a vote of 298 to 121. Later the same day, the Senate approved the report by a vote of 70 to 30.  President Barack Obama signed H.R. 2112 into law on November 18.

H.R. 2112 cuts HUD funding by $3.7 billion or 9% below FY11 funding levels, providing only a net total of $37.4 billion for HUD programs.

Vouchers

The bill provides $18.91 billion for the Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) account. The bill underfunds TBRA contract renewals, providing $17.24 billion in FY12. The conference committee increased funding for this line item by $199 million over the House bill and $99 million over the Senate bill. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) estimates that the bill short-funds voucher contract renewals by $93 million. The contract renewal funding falls short of HUD’s reported estimate for contract renewals by more than $130 million. This shortfall could result in the loss of between 12,000 and 24,000 vouchers, according to a November 18 report by CBPP.

Public housing agencies (PHAs) can use net restricted assets to cover voucher shortfalls. However, the bill rescinds $650 million in voucher program net restricted assets. The Senate proposed rescinding voucher funds by $750 million. HUD officials reported that a rescission of that level would have left PHAs with less reserve funding than a minimum of one month, which the Senate version of the bill set as a floor for reserve funding levels. The final bill does not include language requiring the HUD Secretary to preserve PHAs’ reserves at no less than one month.

H.R. 2112 cuts voucher administrative fees by 3% below FY11 and 1% below the President’s request.  Administrative fees were also cut in FY11, and two years’ funding cuts could result in PHAs issuing turned over vouchers at a slower rate. Over time, this could result in the loss of vouchers by attrition.

While H.R. 2112 would not renew all current vouchers, consistent with the President’s request it does provide $75 million for new Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers, or about 11,000 vouchers. This restores VASH funding to the FY10 level. In FY11, only $49 million was provided for new VASH vouchers.

Section 811 vouchers are funded at $112 million, 2% below the President’s request. In FY11, $114 million was provided for rental assistance in the Section 811 program, in part through the Section 811 account and in part through the TBRA account. In FY12, the full amount of rental assistance for the Section 811 program will be provided through TBRA vouchers.

The bill also provides $60 million for the Family Self-Sufficiency program, the amount requested by the President and level with FY11 funding. Tenant Protection vouchers are funded at $75 million, a 32% cut below FY11 but consistent with the Administration’s FY12 request. The bill provides a $10 million set-aside to provide Tenant Protection Vouchers to a wider population of tenants who would otherwise lose their affordable units (see article elsewhere in Memo). This provision was included in the Senate bill.

For the second consecutive year, the bill does not include funding for Homeless Demonstration Vouchers.  The demonstration was funded in the Senate bill at $5 million but the House bill did not provide funding. The President requested $57 million for the program in FY12 and $85 million in FY11.

Project-Based Section 8

The Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) program is funded at $9.34 billion, an amount lower than both the House Subcommittee and Senate-passed bills. The bill also rescinds $200 million from the Housing Certificate Fund used to supplement the PBRA contracts. HUD says that funding provided in the bill will allow it to renew all project-based contracts for 12 months.

Public Housing

The Public Housing Capital Fund is severely underfunded by H.R. 2112 at only $1.88 billion. This is 8% below the FY11 level and 22% below the President’s FY12 request. HUD calculates that public housing capital needs exceed $25 billion. The bill’s FY12 funding will limit PHAs’ ability to address even capital needs that will occur in the current fiscal year, which would cost $3.4 billion in FY12. Thousands of public housing residents will be at risk of living in substandard housing and tens of thousands of public housing units may be lost due to neglected capital repairs.

The bill provides $3.96 billion for the Public Housing Operating Fund but relies on HUD to offset the full amount of FY12 operating costs through PHA reserves. The bill authorizes HUD to offset no more than $750 million in reserve funding to supplement the operating fund.  Although the House Subcommittee bill would have prohibited funding state public housing units that were converted to federal units with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), this provision was not included in the final bill. The bill also imposes new restrictions on PHA employee salaries that can be paid with funds from this bill.

The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative is funded at $120 million, 52% below the President’s requested funding level. In FY11, CNI was funded at $65 million as a set-aside within the HOPE VI account. The House subcommittee bill did not provide funding for either the HOPE VI program or CNI. The Senate bill provided $120 million for CNI and no funding for HOPE VI.  The final bill includes no funding for HOPE VI but does require that at least $80 million of the $120 million of CNI funds go to PHAs.

Homeless Assistance

Homeless Assistance Grants are level-funded at the FY11 level of $1.9 billion, 20% below the President’s FY12 request. Funding at this level will not allow HUD to fully enact HEARTH, for which HUD has just issued new rules (see article elsewhere in Memo). By not funding Homeless Assistance Grants at the level the President requested, at least 492,000 households experiencing homelessness will not receive housing assistance. On November 14, before the Conference report was issued, 47 members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to the T-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Tom Latham (R-IA) and Ranking Member John Olver (D-MA) urging them to increase funding for Homeless Assistance Grants in the conference report.

HOME

The most severe cut was to the HOME Investments Partnership program, the subject of investigation by the Washington Post and hearings in the House Financial Services Committee (see Memo, 5/20, 6/3, 11/4). HOME was cut to $1 billion from $1.6 billion in FY11, a 38% cut. Based on HUD’s latest public data on affordable housing units constructed from FY10, this cut will result in 31,000 fewer affordable homes, which could include over 9,000 affordable rental units and nearly 8,000 fewer rental subsidies.

The bill includes new oversight and monitoring requirements for the HOME program. One requires that homeownership units that are not sold within six months of a project’s completion be turned into rental units. Another provision sets a four-year limit on the length of time between commitment of funds and project completion. If a project is not completes within four years, the funds are to be repaid, although HUD would have flexibility to approve a one-year extension.

Section 202

The bill cuts the Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program by 51% below the President’s funding level, funding Section 202 at $374 million. While this is only 6% below the FY11 funding level, the program was cut last year and the FY12 funding level is 55% below the FY10 level. The bill does not provide enough funding for new construction, which could mean 2,500 to 3,000 new units for elderly households will not be developed.

Section 811

The Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities program is increased by 10% over FY11 funding to $165 million, partially restoring cuts made in FY11. The final bill directs the HUD Secretary to conduct the Project Rental Assistance Demonstration as authorized by 2010’s Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act.  Under the demonstration, developers can combine rental assistance from Section 811 and other capital subsidy programs, making it easier to provide supportive housing within developments and increase the number of units provided through Section 811.

HOPWA

The Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program is cut to $332 million, slightly below both the FY11 funding level of $334 million and the President’s request of $335 million.

Community Development Fund

The bill cuts the Community Development Fund to $3.3 billion, 6% below FY11 and 13% below the President’s request. The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) formula grants are cut to $2.95 billion, 12% below FY11 funding and 20% below the President’s request. The Senate bill would have provided funding for a Sustainable Communities Initiative, Regional Integrated Planning Grants and Community Challenge Grants, but the final bill drops these provisions. It does include provisions from House bill that prohibits CDF funding for the Economic Development Initiative and the Rural Innovation Fund. The bill allows 20% of CDBG funding to be used for administrative, planning and management purposes, consistent with prior years and with the Senate bill. The House bill would have reduced administrative funding to 10%. The House bill also would have provided $7 million for use in insular areas but this provision was dropped from the final bill.

The bill also provides $400 million for emergency disaster grants. This funding was added to the Senate bill through an amendment offered in the Appropriations Committee mark up and was originally was not funded from within the HUD bill. The Conference Committee, however, decided to offset $300 million of this funding from within the T-HUD bill in the CDBG account.

Other HUD Programs

Funding for the Housing Counseling program is partially restored to $45 million, 49% below the President’s request. All funding for counseling was cut in FY11.

The Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP) is funded at $13 million, 50% below FY11. The President’s budget did not include funding for the program in FY12. The Native American Housing Block Grant was level funded at $650 million, 7% below the President’s request. The Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant was level funded at $13 million, a 30% increase over the President’s request.

The Healthy Housing and Lead Hazard account is funded at $120 million, slightly above FY11 funding but 14% below the President’s request of $140 million. The Healthy Homes Initiatives grants are funded at $10 million, 50% below the FY11 level. The bill includes language requiring that grant applicants for areas with the highest lead paint abatement needs certify they have adequate capacity to carry out grant activities.

The Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity program is funded at $70.8 million, 1% below FY11 funding and 2% below the President’s request. The Fair Housing Initiatives Program grants are funded at $42.5 million, consistent with FY11 funding and the President’s request. The bill also includes funding for Fair Housing limited English proficiency activities, a provision that was not included in the House bill.

HUD’s Policy and Research Development funding is cut by 4% below FY11 funding levels and 19% below the President’s request. The bill also newly requires a minimum 50% match for any cooperative agreements for policy and research activities funded with non-HUD funds.

Rural Housing Services

H.R. 2112 reduces Rural Housing funding for rental programs below the FY11 funding level. Section 521 Rural Rental Assistance is funded at $904 million, slightly below the President’s FY12 requested funding level, but a cut of 5% below FY11. The Section 515 Rural Rental Housing program is funded at $64.5 million, 32% below the President’s FY12 request and a 7% cut below FY11 funding.

H.R. 2112 does include several positive HUD policy provisions including a Rental Assistance Demonstration, expanded use of tenant protection vouchers and preservation provisions (see next article in Memo).

View the H.R. 2112 Conference Report: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CREC-2011-11-14/pdf/CREC-2011-11-14-pt1-PgH7433-3.pdf#page=1

View CBPP’s report: http://www.cbpp.org/files/11-18-11-IPmemoHUDapprops.pdf

View the Homeless Assistance Letter: http://nlihc.org/doc/House_Homeless_Assistance_Ltr_11-14-11.pdf


***FY12 HUD Bill Includes Important Policy Provisions

Rental Assistance Demonstration in Final FY12 Bill

The FY12 conference agreement authorizes a Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), requested as part of the Administration’s FY12 budget. A version was included in the Senate’s FY12 T-HUD bill, S. 1596 (see Memo, 9/23). The version of RAD in the final bill, H.R. 2112, includes some important improvements to the Senate’s language, which aligns RAD more closely with the Senate’s intent as spelled out in the report on S. 1596, with HUD’s RAD language circulated in August (see Memo, 8/26), and with NLIHC’s priorities for RAD. On November 3, NLIHC Board Member Charles Elsesser testified in support of HUD’s RAD language at a hearing of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity (see Memo, 11/4).The final bill’s RAD language includes moderate rehabilitation (mod rehab) properties in the RAD demonstration, which is capped at 60,000 public housing and mod rehab units that apply to HUD for conversion of current assistance streams to project-based Section 8 contracts or project-based vouchers by September 30, 2015.

NLIHC asked that the Senate-passed RAD language be improved in the areas of resident rights and protections, public ownership and long-term contract renewals. The report to the Senate-passed T-HUD bill made clear that each of these areas was a priority for RAD. The final RAD bill language responds to NLIHC’s concerns by assuring additional resident protections, providing more clarity on who can own converted units, including after foreclosure or bankruptcy, and providing explicit language that HUD must offer, and the owner must accept, contract renewals.

The final RAD language also includes provisions to help preserve Rent Supplement and Rental Assistance Payment properties (see description in Assisted Housing Preservation Provisions, below).

Assisted Housing Preservation Provisions

Mark to Market Extension

The final bill extends the authority of the Mark to Market program until September 30, 2015. Mark to Market authority provides owners of assisted housing the ability to restructure assisted mortgage loans when rents are marked down to market levels. Without the extension of this authority, the requirement to mark rents to market would have remained, but the authority to restructure mortgage loans so that new lower rents would cover the financing would have expired. Mark to Market extension was in the Senate’s T-HUD bill.

Tenant Protection Vouchers for Certain Unassisted HUD Tenants Facing Expiring Use Restrictions

The final bill includes the Senate bill’s $10 million set-aside of the voucher renewal account’s funds for Tenant Protection Vouchers or Enhanced Vouchers to at-risk tenants in buildings with expiring mortgages or use restrictions who are not now eligible for assistance. Advocates in Illinois, Massachusetts and across the nation worked closely with Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Scott Brown (R-MA), who advocated for these protections.

The National Housing Trust estimates that in FY12 alone, almost 13,000 affordable housing units nationwide, financed through various HUD-subsidized mortgage programs, face expiring restrictions, but tenants are not covered by project-based Section 8 contracts. These tenants do not qualify for any tenant protection assistance when these HUD-subsidized mortgages mature or certain non-renewable rental assistance contracts expire.

The final FY12 HUD language would provide tenant protection assistance, through Tenant Protection Vouchers or Enhanced Vouchers, to tenants in these properties if they are in low-vacancy areas and may have to pay rents greater than 30% of household income. This tenant protection assistance could also be utilized as project-based vouchers.  HUD must issue implementation guidelines by mid-March.

Project-Basing Tenant Protection Vouchers

The final T-HUD bill also includes an amendment, championed by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Scott Brown (R-MA), to authorize project-based vouchers in lieu of tenant-based vouchers that would otherwise be issued for expiration of a Rent Supplement (Rent Supp), Section 236 Rental Assistance Payment (RAP), or Section 8 mod rehab contract.

Eligibility to project-base these tenant protection vouchers is limited to Rent Supp, RAP or mod rehab projects that converted to vouchers since October 1, 2006, or will do so in the future.   HUD must issue guidelines that include tenant consultation and the agreement of a housing authority administrator. This authority was included under the bill’s Rental Assistance Demonstration but will only be in effect in FY12 and FY13. In FY12 alone, HUD is expected to issue about 2,000 tenant protection vouchers for expiring Rent Supp and RAP tenants. This amendment will ensure these and other tenants have affordable housing, and that these homes are affordable for the long-term.

Any project-based vouchers issued under this provision will not count toward a public housing agency’s 25% limit on the number of housing choice vouchers it may project-base.

Schumer Amendment to Retain Project-Based Assistance

The T-HUD appropriations bill has included the “Schumer Amendment” for several years. The language, spearheaded by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), requires the HUD Secretary to preserve project-based contracts on troubled properties before or during the foreclosure process. The Schumer amendment language is improved in FY12. The requirement now applies to all project-based contracts, not just those on HUD-insured or HUD-held properties Also, prior to abating a contract and relocating tenants for health and safety threats, HUD must provide notice to tenants and obtain tenant consent, and first use other available remedies, including partial abatements and receivership.

Transfer of Project-Based Assistance

The T-HUD bill includes revised language authorizing the HUD Secretary to transfer some or all project-based assistance, debt, and use restrictions from one multifamily project to another multifamily project or projects. The FY12 T-HUD bill includes a new provision here, allowing the transfer to be done in phases to accommodate financing and other requirements related to rehabilitating or constructing the project or projects to which the assistance will be transferred. New language also allows the number of units in the property receiving the transferred assistance to be fewer than at the original property if those units were unoccupied and the reduction is needed to reconfigure bedroom sizes to meet current market demands. The FY12 T-HUD language also brings Section 811 properties under this overall transfer authority.

SEVRA Changes Not Included

The final FY12 HUD bill does not include rent simplification provisions sought by HUD in its FY12 budget request (see Memo, 2/18). HUD requested the FY12 bill include cost-saving provisions from earlier Section 8 Voucher Reform bills. These included changing the definition of extremely low income (ELI), which, in effect, would have modified the current income targeting for public housing, voucher, and project-based assistance program eligibility. The new definition of ELI would have been the higher of the national poverty level, adjusted for family size, or 30% of area median family income.

The Administration’s FY12 request would have also raised the standard deduction for elderly and disabled families from $400 to $675, while raising the threshold for medical and handicapped assistance expense deductions for the purpose of determining rents, from 3% to 10% of a family’s annual net income. The FY12 request would have also given the HUD Secretary the authority to conduct “rent policy demonstrations.” HUD’s FY12 request also sought to change how fair market rents (FMRs) are developed, adopted, and used.

Moving to Work Expansion Not Included

The final FY12 bill does not give the HUD Secretary the authority to extend the Moving to Work demonstration to any new agencies, as have recent HUD appropriations bills.

Student Fees and Program Eligibility

Led by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Congress changed the rules regarding college students living in Section 8 housing to address widespread concerns that student athletes with significant scholarships, including housing allowances, were living in HUD-subsidized housing. Among other changes to ensure low income students truly in need of assistance have access to it, the new law says that financial assistance in excess of tuition will be included in the student’s annual income when determining a student’s eligibility for Section 8 assistance (unless the student is older than 23 and has dependent children). The FY12 bill expands “tuition” and says that financial assistance in excess of tuition and “any other required fees or charges” will be included in a student’s income for purposes of eligibility. Congress wants to protect low income students with high required fees associated with college costs.


***HUD Releases HEARTH Act Regulations

HUD released the interim rule for the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) Program, the final rule on the definition of the term “homeless,” and the second allocation for FY11 ESG funds on November 15. Both of the rules reflect changes included in the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act of 2009. Other Continuum of Care program and Rural Housing Stability program regulations related to the HEARTH Act will be released at a later date.

NLIHC submitted comments about the proposed homeless definition rule on June 21, 2010 (see Memo, 6/25/10). HUD, in the proposed rule, defined “persistent instability” as having moved three or more times over a 90 day period. NLIHC recommended that HUD instead use the standard of two moves over a one year time period. The final rule defines persistent instability as two or more moves over a 60 day period. HUD has also clarified that it would consider “the move out of the initial permanent housing placement as the first move.”

NLIHC, in its comments on the proposed rule, recommended that an oral statement alone be considered acceptable evidence of homeless status. In the final rule HUD says that third-party documentation is the preferred method of confirmation of homeless status: “HUD revised paragraph (b) of the recordkeeping requirements for ‘homeless status’ to clarify that the order of priority among documentation is third-party documentation first, intake worker observation second, and certification by the individual or head of household seeking assistance third.”

With respect to the documentation of an individual’s stay in an institution, HUD says that the final rule “expands what is an acceptable evidence of an individual’s stay in an institution to include an oral statement.”

The HEARTH Act replaced the Emergency Shelter Grant program with the Emergency Solutions Grant program. The new ESG program includes an emphasis on homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing and the rule incorporates many provisions from the temporary Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing program (HPRP). Under the prevention and rapid re-housing provisions of the regulations, HUD clarifies that ESG funds may be used for many expenses related to housing stabilization including security deposits, last month’s rent, moving costs, housing search and placement, and housing stability case management. The interim ESG regulation includes corresponding amendments to HUD’s consolidated planning requirements.

HUD summarizes the major changes in the ESG program as “the addition of an annual funding cap on street outreach and emergency shelter activities; clarification of the eligible costs for street outreach and emergency shelter activities; the expansion of the homelessness prevention component of the program and the addition of a new rapid re-housing component, which both include rental assistance and housing relocation and stabilization services; expansion of the range of eligible administrative costs; and the addition of a new category of eligible activities for Homeless Management Information Systems (HMIS).”

The interim rule also includes a new requirement for ESG fund recipients to consult and coordinate with their local Continua of Care (CoC) in the allocation of funds, the creation of performance standards, and the evaluation of ESG project outcomes.

HUD notes in the introduction to the interim rule that the forthcoming proposed CoC rule will include requirements for a centralized and coordinated assessment system to evaluate initial eligibility for individuals and families who seek homeless services or homeless prevention services.

The interim rule also revises portions of Consolidated Plan (ConPlan) regulations to reflect the HEARTH Act by standardizing the homelessness elements affecting all jurisdictions required to submit a ConPlan and those applying for ESG. The changes are intended to foster closer coordination between not only ESG and CoC programs, but other mainstream housing and service programs as well.

When preparing the ConPlan five-year Strategic Plan and each subsequent Annual Action Plan allocating ESG funds, jurisdictions are now required to consult with:

  • Continuum of Care in the jurisdiction’s geographic area.
  • Public and private agencies that address homeless veterans and youth.
  • Publicly funded institutions of care that may discharge people into homelessness.

The Citizen Participation segment of the ConPlan rule now requires jurisdictions to encourage participation by Continua of Care in the process of developing and implementing the ConPlan.

The ConPlan rule broadens attention beyond chronically homeless people to include families with children, veterans and their families, and unaccompanied youth.

The “Housing Needs Assessment” component of the ConPlan adds a new category of person whose housing assistance needs must be assessed by jurisdictions: formerly homeless families and individuals who are receiving rapid re-housing assistance that will soon end.

The “Housing Market Assessment” must include an inventory of mainstream services, not just homeless services, to stress the importance of using and collaborating with mainstream assistance providers to prevent and end homelessness.

The Strategic Plan and Annual Action Plan portions of the ConPlan now requires a jurisdiction to describe its strategies for reducing and ending homelessness by helping homeless people transition to permanent housing by shortening the period of time people are homeless, helping them gain access to affordable housing, and preventing people who were recently homeless from becoming homeless again. Jurisdictions must also describe strategies for helping people avoid homelessness, especially those likely to become homeless after being discharged from publicly funded institutions and systems of care.

The interim ESG rule is available at http://www.hudhre.info/index.cfm?do=viewResource&ResourceId=4517

The final homeless definition rule is available at http://www.hudhre.info/index.cfm?do=viewResource&ResourceID=4519

The ESG fund allocation information is available at http://www.hudhre.info/index.cfm?do=viewResource&ResourceId=4518

NLIHC’s comments on the proposed homeless definition rule are available at http://www.nlihc.org/doc/NLIHC-Comments-HEARTH-Home-Def.pdf

 

 



Investing in the Future of Northgate Apartments

Posted November 17, 2011

VHFA, the New Northgate Housing, LLC, and the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) came together yesterday to sign the legal documents firming up a new and improved financing structure for the Burlington apartment complex.

The new loan provided by VHFA for $13.265 million is the largest in the Agency’s history. The new loan is being used to pay off existing debt and to finance $5.2 million in improvements, including new roofs and boilers, weatherization, and some kitchen and bathroom upgrades. The weatherization and new boilers are expected to reduce the cost of heating for residents.

These apartments overlooking Lake Champlain in Burlington’s New North End are unique in several ways. Northgate is owned by New Northgate Housing LLC, which is comprised of the Northgate Residents Ownership Corporation, a resident-controlled organization. Northgate is also the largest single subsidized apartment development in the state, with 336 units of housing, and is perpetually affordable, by virtue of a Vermont Housing & Conservation Board Housing Subsidy Covenant.

Northgate is truly a mixed-income, diverse, multi-generational community. With incomes of 30% through 95% of area median income, Northgate’s 1,000 residents are from Vermont and 14 countries, Its longest standing resident moved in 40 years ago, and residents range in age from 1 to 95. A full time on-site youth services coordinator offers popular, successful programs.

Northgate’s financial restructuring involved many legal and financial complexities. A nearly $6 million HUD loan came due and a restructuring proposal needed to be reviewed and approved by HUD. In addition, a capital needs assessment outlined a scope of work that required more resources than the project’s existing reserves. Further complexities involved transferring the ownership of the ground lease, combining two HUD projects into one from an operating and financing basis, and completing a market study required for HUD’s approval of a new rent structure to service the new debt (while maintaining affordability). Finally, the financing needed to be structured in a way that complied with requirements of the U.S. Treasury’s New Issue Bond Program in order to obtain low 4.5% fixed rate financing.

The vision of several key players 18 months ago, including Phil Holmes in HUD’s Manchester office who died in a tragic accident in July, and the tenacity since then of VHFA, Maloney Properties Inc. (Northgate’s management agent), and Northgate Residents Ownership Corporation, and their development and legal consultants led to yesterday’s monumental accomplishments.

Thanks to these individuals and organizations, Northgate will be preserved as a mixed income community, with needed improvements and sufficient reserves to cover future capital needs.

 

 



HUD Interim Rule, ESG Allocations, & Final Rule to Define Homelessness Released Today

Posted November 16, 2011

This morning, HUD issued an Interim Rule for the new Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) program in response to changes made to McKinney-Vento homeless assistance programs by the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act of 2009, enacted on May 20, 2009. The interim regulations will be effective 30 days after they are published in the Federal Register.

HUD also made the second round FY 2011 ESG allocation amounts available here.

Additionally, HUD released today the Final Rule for the definition of homeless; the Proposed Rule was published on April 20, 2010.

 

 



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