In April 2011, HUD proposed changes to the PHA Plan template, and NLIHC submitted comments (see Memo, 4/15/11 and 6/17/11). In response to public comments and in recognition that there are various classes of public housing agencies (PHAs), HUD has submitted further revisions to the PHA Plan template for public comment.
All PHAs must develop 5-Year PHA Plans that describe their overall mission and goals. PHAs with 550 or more public housing and voucher units, known as “non-Qualified PHAs,” must also develop an Annual Plan, which is a gathering together of a PHA’s key policies (such as those relating to admissions, income targeting, rents, pets etc.) and program intentions (such as demolition or disposition). Because a PHA Plan is comprised of a number of documents, HUD created a 41-page template that provided residents guidance and key information about the PHA’s policies and program intentions. However, in 2008 HUD diluted the information non-Qualified PHAs have to provide to residents by reducing the template to one and a half pages of boxes with small print and little guidance.
The major difference HUD is now proposing for the PHA Plan template is that instead of a single, unified template that applies to all PHAs, there would be separate annual templates for various classes of PHAs. In addition, a new single 5-Year Plan would be required of all PHAs.
Each of the four proposed annual templates defines the six PHA classes:
1. A Standard PHA owns or manages 250 or more public housing units and any number of housing choice vouchers, for a combined total of more than 550. Plus, the PHA was designated “standard” in its most recent assessments for both the Public Housing Assessment System (PHAS) and the Section Eight Management Assessment Program (SEMAP).
2. A Small PHA owns or manages 250 or fewer public housing units and any number of vouchers, for a combined total of more than 550. Plus, the PHA was not designated as PHAS troubled or at risk of being designated as PHAS troubled.
3. A Qualified PHA has fewer than 550 public housing units and vouchers combined, plus it is not PHAS- or SEMAP-troubled.
4. A Troubled PHA has an overall PHAS or SEMAP score of less than 60%.
5. A High-Performer PHA owns or manages 250 or more public housing units and any number of vouchers, for a combined total of more than 550. Plus, the PHA was designated “high performer” in its most recent assessments for PHAS and SEMAP.
6. A Housing Choice Voucher-Only PHA does not own or operate any public housing units, but it does administer more than 550 vouchers. Plus, the PHA was not designated as troubled in its most recent SEMAP assessment.
HUD is proposing a separate Annual Plan template for Standard/Troubled PHAs, a Streamlined Template for Small/High Performer PHAs, a Streamlined Template for Housing Choice Voucher-Only PHAs, and a template of Annual Requirements for Qualified PHAs.
There are currently 2,818 Qualified PHAs. This represents 85% or 91% of all PHAs, depending on the HUD source providing the number of PHAs (3,300 or 3,100). Qualified PHAs do not have to have an Annual Plan; however, they must hold a public hearing annually if they are proposing changes to their goals, objectives, or policies.
Nevertheless, in 2008 data (the latest available data), non-Qualified PHAs administered 79% of all public housing units and 89% of all vouchers. Most of these were probably standard PHAs and troubled PHAs.
Several modifications HUD now proposes would be improvements. Each template would clearly state that information hinted at in the templates must be provided to residents and where they can access the information. At a minimum, PHAs would be required to post PHA Plans at each Asset Management Project (AMP) and at the PHA’s main office (this language implies posting templates rather than making all PHA Plan elements available). In addition, PHAs are strongly encouraged to provide copies to resident councils and to post complete PHA Plans on their websites.
Another improvement, compared to the April draft, is an explicit instruction in the Standard/Troubled PHA Annual Plan template requiring those PHAs to describe revisions made to any of 17 listed PHA Plan elements (e.g., waiting list procedures, grievance procedures, rent determination policies, etc.). The previous draft stated that a description of any changes was not required. The template currently in use does not even list any of the PHA Plan elements.
The Standard/Troubled PHA Annual Plan template would also be improved by creating a “New Activities” section, which is a better presentation of 11 important potential PHA actions that were previously combined in a tiny template box. For instance, a standard or troubled PHA would have to indicate whether or not it intends to project-base vouchers, to undertake a mixed finance project or to demolish a development; and if so, the PHA must describe the planned action.
Not all of the proposed modifications are improvements. Although required in the law and regulations, and included in the template currently in use as well as the April draft, the proposed Standard/Troubled Annual Plan template would no longer require PHAs to submit for HUD review challenges raised by residents or the general public to any of the statutorily required PHA Plan elements.
If these proposed templates eventually become official, they will be modest improvements from the 2008 version currently in use, but still far less helpful for residents and advocates than the pre-2008 versions. NLIHC has consistently urged HUD to return to that more complete pre-2008 template. Since 2006 NLIHC has registered concern that HUD’s “streamlining” of the PHA Plan template would greatly diminish its value as a planning tool for public housing and voucher residents (see Memo, 9/15/06, 9/29/06, 5/11/07, 5/18/07, 8/17/07, 8/31/07, and 11/21/08). The loss of information and guidance in the severely streamlined PHA Plan template makes it more difficult for residents and others to understand the PHA Plan process, engage in it and access information associated with the 19 statutorily required PHA Plan components.
Comments are due April 3, 2012. The Federal Register Notice of Proposed Information Collection for Public Comment is at http://1.usa.gov/ArmlOX.
NLIHC obtained the 13 draft documents referenced in the notice and they are available at the following links:
Standard/Troubled PHAs, http://nlihc.org/doc/HUD-50075-ST.pdf
Qualified PHAs, http://nlihc.org/doc/HUD-50075-QA.pdf
Small/High Performer PHAs, http://nlihc.org/doc/HUD-50075-SM-HP.pdf
Housing Choice Voucher Only PHAs, http://nlihc.org/doc/HUD-50075-HCV.pdf
5-Year PHA Plan, http://nlihc.org/doc/HUD-50075-5Y.pdf
Capital Fund Annual Statement/Performance Report, http://nlihc.org/doc/HUD-50075-1.pdf
Instructions, Capital Fund Annual Statement/Performance Report, http://nlihc.org/doc/HUD-50075-1-2011Instructions.pdf
Capital Fund, Five-Year Action Plan, http://nlihc.org/doc/HUD-50075-2-2011.pdf
Instructions, Capital Fund, Five-Year Action Plan, http://nlihc.org/doc/HUD-50075-2-2011Instructions.pdf
Certification, Consistency with Consolidated Plan, http://nlihc.org/doc/HUD-50077-SL.pdf
Certification, Standard/Troubled/HCV-Only PHA Compliance with PHA Plan Regulations, http://nlihc.org/doc/HUD-50077.pdf
Certification, Small/High Performer PHA Compliance with PHA Plan Regulations, http://nlihc.org/doc/HUD-50077-SM-HP.pdf
Civil Rights Certification, Qualified PHAS, http://nlihc.org/doc/HUD-50077-CR.pdf
The current PHA Plan templates are available at http://1.usa.gov/AouNdO.
A list of qualified PHAs is available at http://1.usa.gov/zI2oCH.