HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing Programs posted a draft revised Section 8 Renewal Policy Guide on February 28, 2014. Comments are due by April 30. The transmittal memorandum summarizes 90 proposed changes. The Renewal Guide provides comprehensive guidance for renewing expiring Section 8 project-based contracts.
Several of the proposed changes regard notification to tenants, such as:
- Section 245 tenant notifications are required for budget-based rent adjustments or for any adjustment where the utility analysis results in a possible decrease in the utility allowance.
- When owners of Section 219 “preservation-eligible property” want to prepay a mortgage, they must provide written notice to each tenant, HUD, and the appropriate local government official such as the mayor at least 150 days, but not more than 270 days, before the prepayment.
- If HUD elects not to renew a Section 8 contract, it must notify all tenants and provide Section 8 tenants and any other low income tenants regular tenant-based vouchers and reasonable moving expenses.
Other proposed changes address disability issues:
- When an owner chooses to opt out of the Section 8 program, communications with tenants must give priority to methods that provide physical access to individuals with disabilities, such as holding briefings in an accessible location.
- Owners are reminded that they must comply with applicable physical accessibility requirements such as those under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Architectural Barriers Act (1968), the Fair Housing Act, and state or local laws.
- Certain barriers to accessibility may constitute exigent health and safety deficiencies, for example, sidewalks encroached on by obstacles such as dumpsters, and curb cuts or sidewalks in disrepair.
Two examples of proposed changes that address fair housing are:
- HUD may refuse to renew a Section 8 contract if the owner violated federal, state, or local law regarding nondiscrimination or equal opportunity, and failed to cure the violation, at the renewing property or at any other federally assisted project of the owner.
- To be eligible to purchase a property through the Transfer Program, the purchaser must have resolved any matters regarding lawsuits, charges, and letters of findings related to discrimination. The Transfer Program is part of HUD’s effort to preserve assisted housing; it provides for the transfer of an assisted property from for-profit ownership to nonprofit, mission-driven ownership.
Examples of two other types of proposed changes are:
- HUD is proposing that when renewing rents, the required rent comparability study (RCS) no longer compare the RCS rent to the Fair Market Rent (FMR). Instead, HUD proposes using the market-based median rent estimates for a zip code published by the Census Bureau or other comparable source. If the RCS rent would exceed 110% of the market-based median rents, HUD would order a third party to conduct an RCS.
- Because HUD believes that long-term, multi-year contracts assist in preserving affordable housing, the revised Renewal Guide indicates that a HUD Hub Director’s approval is not required when renewing multi-year contracts. The maximum term of a contract is 20 years.
The draft revised Section 8 Renewal Policy Guide is at: http://1.usa.gov/NRtJJC