On July 14, HUD released joint Notice H 2014-09/PIH 2014-17 providing public housing agencies (PHAs) with guidance if residents move, either temporarily or permanently, due to a Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) conversion of their public housing. The Notice reiterates RAD relocation requirements and explains the requirements of the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970 (URA).
The Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) is intended to preserve and improve low income housing by enabling PHAs to leverage Section 8 rental assistance contracts to raise private debt and equity for capital improvements. The joint notice only applies to the component of RAD that allows up to 60,000 units of public housing and Moderate Rehabilitation (Mod Rehab) program units to be converted from their existing federal assistance to project-based Housing Choice Vouchers (PBVs) or to Section 8 project-based rental assistance (PBRA) by September 30, 2015.
The Notice states that if there is a possibility that residents will be relocated as a result of acquisition, demolition, or rehabilitation for a project converting under RAD, PHAs must carry out a planning process that conforms to URA in order to minimize the adverse impact of relocation. Although not required by RAD or URA, HUD encourages PHAs to prepare a written Relocation Plan, and offers recommended elements of such a plan.
Under the heading “Resident Right to Remain,” the Notice reiterates the RAD implementing Notice PIH 2012-32 REV1 (see Memo, 7/5/13, 7/27/12) that prohibits involuntary, permanent relocation of residents. RAD does, however, allow temporary relocation in order to make improvements to a public housing development, or to demolish and rebuild a property. Residents temporarily relocated have the right to return to the project once it has been completed and is in decent, safe, and sanitary condition.
The Notice provides details about assistance to be provided, depending on the length of time relocation is necessary: temporary relocation expected to be less than one year, temporary relocations longer than one year, or permanent relocation.
If relocation is expected to be for more than one year, the PHA must offer residents the choice of permanent relocation assistance and payments at URA levels or temporary relocation assistance, including temporary housing and reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses related to the temporary relocation. Residents must have at least 30 days to decide between permanent and temporary relocation assistance. A PHA cannot employ any tactics to pressure residents to relinquish their right to return or to accept permanent relocation assistance and payments.
The Notice provides examples of RAD plans that might prevent a resident from returning to the converted RAD project:
- Changing the mix of units by number of bedrooms, replacing larger units with units with fewer bedrooms.
- Converting apartments to social service delivery spaces.
- Appling the RAD rule that allows up to 5% of the units to be demolished, necessitating the permanent relocation of the pre-RAD occupants.
The Notice clearly states, “If proposed plans for a project would preclude a resident from returning to the RAD project, the resident must be given an opportunity to comment and/or object to such plans. If the resident objects to such plans, the PHA must alter the project plans to accommodate the resident in the converted project.”
If a resident voluntarily agrees to permanent relocation, the PHA must obtain informed, written consent from the resident that also confirms that the resident waives the right to return. That consent must also acknowledge that the resident will receive permanent relocation assistance and payments consistent with URA. A PHA may not terminate a resident’s lease if it fails to obtain this consent.
Appendix 1, which presents HUD’s recommended relocation plan contents, lists the replacement housing options for residents who voluntarily relocate permanently. The options include providing the resident with other public housing, a project-based voucher, a regular tenant-based voucher, homeownership housing, or affordable, non-subsidized private market rental housing. Appendix 1 also suggests features of assistance that should be offered to residents agreeing to voluntarily relocate, including:
- Providing at least one comparable replacement unit at least 90 days before a required move, as required by URA.
- Giving minority households reasonable opportunities to relocate to areas that do not have a concentration of minorities.
- Giving people with disabilities comparable replacement housing that has the accessibility features they need, as required by URA.
- Providing displaced residents with URA’s Replacement Housing Payment, which covers the any increase in monthly housing costs for up to 3.5 years.
Notice H 2014-09/PIH 2014-17 is at: http://1.usa.gov/1nNC1MA
More information about RAD is available on NLIHC’s website at: http://nlihc.org/issues/public-housing
Read about RAD on page 134 of NLIHC’s 2014 Advocates’ Guide at: http://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/2014AG-134.pdf