On June 14, HUD issued Public and Indian Housing (PIH) Notice 2011-32 clarifying that when a voucher originally designated for a non-elderly disabled (NED) household turns over, the voucher must be reissued to the next NED family on the waiting list. Advocates believe the Notice will better ensure NED households will continue to have access to these vouchers in the future.
The Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act, enacted in late 2010, states that, upon turnover, all vouchers for NED families received from appropriations since 1997 must be used for NED families “to the maximum extent possible.”
In the Notice, HUD states that it is “extremely unlikely” that a public housing agency (PHA) could legitimately claim that it was not practical to reach NED families to apply to its waiting list. Therefore, a PHA will be responsible for maintaining the same number of vouchers for NED families as it has gained since 1997 by securing special purpose NED vouchers from various Notices of Fund Availability (NOFAs). This number will be the PHA’s NED baseline, establishing the number of NED families it must continue to serve.
The Notice also states that NED vouchers should be affirmatively marketed to a diverse population of NED-eligible families in order to attract households covered by the Fair Housing Act that are least likely to apply, such as racial and ethnic minorities.
Waiting list guidance is also provided. For instance, a PHA currently serving the required number of NED families cannot skip over a NED family on the waiting list. For example, if that PHA has five regular vouchers to issue and the next five families on the waiting list are NED households, the regular vouchers should be issued to those next five households. However, the regular vouchers used by NED families would not increase the PHA’s NED baseline. Another waiting list reminder is that a “Category 2” voucher must only be used by another Category 2 household, one that has a NED person transitioning from a nursing home or other healthcare institution into the community.
The Notice also outlines several reasonable accommodations issues, beginning by reminding PHAs that a family may always request a reasonable accommodation in order to enable program participation by individuals with disabilities. If a family with a disabled person finds a home that provides a necessary reasonable accommodation but the rent is higher than the PHA’s payment standard, the family may request and the PHA approve, a higher payment standard of up to 110% of the fair market rent (FMR). The HUD Field Office may also approve an exception payment standard of up to 120% of the FMR.
NLIHC testified before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity that housing authorities should be able to increase payment standards to 120% as a reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities without HUD approval (see related article in this issue of Memo).
Additional reasonable accommodation guidance includes allowing an extra bedroom in order to enable disability-related overnight care, and requiring PHAs to permit the use of any special housing type such as congregate housing, group homes, and single room occupancy housing.
The Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC) estimates that there are more than 60,000 NED vouchers. The TAC website provides information on the number of NED vouchers in a given community at http://www.tacinc.org/resources/data/vouchers
PIH Notice 2011-32 is available at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=PIH2011-32.PDF