On June 25, HUD published a Federal Register notice implementing five changes authorized by the FY14 Appropriations Act. The changes become effective on July 1, 2014, but HUD must still engage in a formal rulemaking process within six months.
Four of the changes are provisions from various iterations of voucher reform legislation that has been considered, but never enacted, in the House and Senate starting in 2007. They are intended primarily to streamline voucher administration with the hope of improving service while reducing costs. They are:
- PHA Consortia. The definition of “public housing agency” is amended to include a general definition of “a consortium” of PHAs. NLIHC supports regional consortia of PHAs as a means of more effective and efficient voucher administration.
- Biennial Inspections. PHAs may now conduct housing quality inspections of Housing Choice Voucher assisted housing every two years, instead of annually. This provision will be effective immediately for any voucher assisted unit at which the PHA has conducted a Housing Quality Standard (HQS) inspection within the preceding 12 months.
- Alternative Inspections Allowed. PHAs may rely on alternative inspections to meet the biennial inspection requirement. Examples of alternatives include inspections conducted under the HOME Investment Partnerships program and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, as well as inspections conducted by HUD’s Real Estate Assessment Center. A PHA must identify the alternative standard in its voucher Administrative Plan. If the change is deemed a significant amendment to its PHA Plan, then the PHA must comply with the Resident Advisory Board, public notice, outreach, and hearing requirements. PHAs may not use alternative inspection methods when a property first enters the voucher program, or for interim inspections triggered by a family or government official notifying the PHA of a unit’s failure to comply with HQS.
- Utility Allowances. A cap is set on the utility allowance for households leasing oversized units, units that are larger than the HUD standard for a household of a given size. The cap is set at an amount based on household size, rather than the size of the housing unit leased. There is an exemption as a reasonable accommodation for households that have a person with disabilities.
The fifth change originally emerged in during drafting of the National Housing Trust Fund legislation. It amends the definition of “extremely low income” to be the higher of the federal poverty level or 30% of the area median income (AMI). The purpose of the change was to account for poor rural areas where 30% AMI is below the federal poverty level.
The Federal Register notice is at: http://1.usa.gov/1pPAqJh