HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) issued Notice PIH 2014-24 on September 23 providing guidance regarding voluntary transfers of public housing programs, developments, and units between two or more public housing agencies (PHAs), or consolidation of two or more public housing programs. Notice PIH 2014-24 does not apply to the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, which is covered under Notice PIH 2012-11.
A transfer is an organizational change in which a “divesting” PHA turns over ownership and operation of public housing units and/or developments to one or more “receiving” PHAs. A consolidation is an organizational change in which two or more divesting PHAs turn over ownership and operation of their public housing programs to create a new “consolidated” PHA.
The Notice details the submission process PHAs must follow for transfers and consolidations, six of which are of note for residents and advocates.
Receiving PHAs will likely have to submit a Significant Amendment to the Annual PHA Plan for HUD review. A consolidated PHA is a new entity that will be required to submit a 5-Year PHA Plan. A receiving or consolidated PHA that has 550 or more units of public housing and vouchers combined (a “non-qualified PHA”) must complete the PHA Plan Significant Amendment resident and public participation process that includes Resident Advisory Board consultation, public outreach and notice and comment, and at least one public hearing.
Regarding Annual and 5-Year PHA Plans, the Notice expects the receiving or consolidated PHA to assess the fair housing implications of a transfer or consolidation, as well as the impact on current and future residents. The receiving or consolidated PHA should be attentive to admissions and occupancy requirements and processes that might differ from those of the divesting PHA(s), including the effect of the use of local preferences, the effect of site-based waiting lists on minority populations, the location of PHA application intake offices and the need to revise the Admissions and Continued Occupancy Plan (ACOP).
Residents of divesting PHAs must be notified in writing of a requested transfer or consolidation no later than 30 days before the proposed effective date of the transfer or consolidation. The notification must provide a point of contact, mailing address, email address, and telephone number for the receiving or consolidated PHA. No later than 15 days before the effective date, the receiving or consolidated PHA must inform residents of where to pay rent and who to call for building maintenance or if there is an emergency.
Residents of divesting PHAs must be allowed by the receiving or consolidated PHA to remain in their current homes for a period of three months or until their first annual reexamination, whichever is later. NLIHC is seeking clarity about this provision from PIH.
Receiving or consolidated PHAs must recognize the resident councils of any transferred developments of the divesting PHA. However, if a divesting PHA has a jurisdiction-wide resident council, the receiving or consolidated PHA should assist in establishing or expanding its own jurisdiction-wide resident council to include the transferred developments.
PHAs must ensure that public housing residents and applicants understand the implications of a transfer or consolidation. For example, will there be changes to grievance procedures or rent payment practices? All communications must be in a manner that is effective for people with hearing, visual, and other communication- related disabilities consistent with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. In addition, PHAs must take reasonable steps to ensure meaningful access to programs for people with limited English proficiency (LEP), which might entail providing language assistance services to ensure meaningful resident and community involvement for persons with LEP.
Notice PIH 2014-24 is at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=pih2014-24.pdf