On June 22, HUD posted three new National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) resources: seven new items at the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) link, a 23-page summary of the interim regulations, and a 14-minute video.
Five of the FAQs are under the heading “Annual Action Plan.” Two are problematic because they discourage states from educating the public about the NHTF and from seeking preliminary input regarding priorities to consider when the state establishes the criteria it will use to consider when awarding NHTF dollars to specific projects.
The first FAQ informs readers that states may not submit their NHTF Allocation Plans to HUD for review and approval until HUD announces NHTF formula allocation to the states in the Federal Register, expected in April 2016. The first FAQ also says that allocations of other HUD formula-based funds, such as HOME and CDBG, will likely be available before NHTF allocations are announced. To access these other formula-based funds, states will probably submit ConPlan Annual Action Plans as soon as those other funds are available. Consequently, states might have to submit a NHTF Allocation Plan as a “substantial amendment” to a ConPlan’s Annual Action Plan.
The fifth FAQ notes that some states, especially those due to submit their Consolidated Plan (ConPlan) Annual Action Plan in early 2016, would likely include their NHTF Allocation Plan in the required ConPlan/NHTF public participation process, which must include at least one public hearing. HUD cautions states that without set NHTF allocation amounts before April 2016, it might be difficult for the state to have meaningful public participation in the NHTF Allocation Plan development process. Even if states proceeded with a NHTF public participation process without a firm NHTF allocation amount, the state would still be required to conduct the regular public participation process for submitting a Substantial Amendment to their ConPlan, requiring a 30-day notice and comment period plus one public hearing.
Another two FAQs in the Allocation Plan section are about NHTF subgrantees. The interim rule allows a state to name subgrantees to administer some or all of the state’s NHTF allocation. A subgrantee is a unit of general local government that has an approved ConPlan and that receives NHTF money from its state to administer a NHTF program within its jurisdiction. One of these FAQs discusses two conditions that must be met before a subgrantee can submit its own Allocation Plan. The other FAQ emphasizes that in order to be a subgrantee the local unit of government must be a direct formula grantee. Thus, a small town or rural county that applies to its state for CDBG or HOME funds is not eligible to be a NHTF subgrantee.
A FAQ under the heading “Cross Cutting Requirements” asserts that Davis-Bacon prevailing wage standards do not apply to the NHTF because the statute creating the NHTF does not specifically require compliance. NLIHC disagrees with this interpretation.
A FAQ under the heading “Administrative Requirements” allows pre-award costs for planning activities and preparation of the NHTF Allocation Plan. Costs might include public hearings, consulting with relevant organizations and agencies, and the publication of public notices. For the first year of the program, pre-award costs may not exceed one half of the state’s administration funds. The statute limits to 10% the amount of a state’s NHTF allocation that may be used for administration and planning.
HUD also posted a 23-page summary of the entire interim NHTF regulations, with clear subpart headings, section headings, and citations.
Finally, HUD has posted the first video in a series to provide guidance regarding implementation of the NHTF. Secretary Julián Castro introduces the video saying that, “Where we live often determines the education we receive, the jobs we have access to, and the health that we have. That’s why we have got to give every American the opportunity to secure quality affordable housing. The NHTF will play an important role in creating this opportunity…These additional resources will allow us to make vital investments in affordable housing nationwide, and enable more families to secure a place to call home. This is a win for our families, for our communities, and for our economy.”
The video provides information about the statutory origins and purpose of the NHTF, the role of states and perhaps local governments, the formula for distributing the NHTF, timing of allocations, income targeting, rental housing targeting and rents, homeowner activities, the NHTF Allocation Plan, and eligible activities. Future videos will go into details about specific topics.
The FAQs, regulations summary, and video are at https://www.hudexchange.info/htf
NLIHC’s NHTF webpage also has a series of videos, a webinar, and a presentation of the regulations presented in 20, short descriptions, http://nlihc.org/issues/nhtf