HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) published a Federal Register notice on September 12, informing public housing agencies (PHAs) about waivers of HUD requirements they may request in the aftermath of a presidentially-declared Major Disaster Declaration (MDD) during calendar year 2018. PIH has issued similar waiver opportunities following Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Harvey, Irma, and Maria, as well as Superstorm Sandy. In order to obtain a waiver, a PHA in an MDD county must submit a request to HUD no later than four months after the disaster is declared.
The notice lists 21 potential waivers and invites PHAs to request waivers not included in the notice. Examples of waivers explicitly mentioned in the notice include:
- Tenant Selection. A PHA’s public housing tenant selection policies or its Section 8 administrative plan for Housing Choice Vouchers may be temporarily revised without formal approval by its Board of Commissioners, provided the PHA documents Board support and it is not a significant amendment to the PHA Plan. The temporary tenant selection process may be in effect for no more than 12 months.
- Opening the Waiting List. HUD will consider a request to waive the requirement that a PHA publish a notice in a newspaper of general circulation in order to open its voucher waiting list. A PHA may instead notify the public by posting a notice at any of its offices and/or placing a notice on its website and as a voice-mail message for up to 12 months from the date HUD approves such a waiver request. HUD reminds PHAs to consider the impact on people with disabilities who might have difficulty visiting a PHA office, and on people with hearing impairments or limited English proficiency regarding voice-mail messages.
- Exception Payment Standard. HUD will consider a PHA request to use a voucher exception payment standard up to 150% of the Fair Market Rent in the absence of supporting data.
- Occupancy Standard. For households displaced by a disaster, HUD will consider waiving the voucher rule limiting occupancy at an assisted unit to two persons per bedroom, provided the household consents in writing. If granted, the waiver will be in effect only for Housing Assistance Payment contracts entered into during the 12-month period following HUD approval. The waiver will be in effect for the household’s initial lease term.
- Physical Inspections. A PHA may request a waiver of a physical inspection for the Public Housing Assessment System (PHAS) if its fiscal year end date is within four months before and ten months after the disaster.
- Operating Subsidy. For the purpose of calculating a PHA’s operating subsidy, a PHA may request public housing units vacant due to a disaster be considered “approved vacancies” for up to 12 months after HUD approval.
- The notice states that HUD cannot grant waivers of unit Housing Quality Standard (HQS) inspections or income verification requirements. However, if sources of income are difficult to find, a PHA may use measures indicated in Notice PIH 2017-12, and HUD can consider variations to acceptability criteria to HQS.
The Federal Register notice is at: https://bit.ly/2MtMSPO
Notice PIH 2017-12 is at: https://bit.ly/2oZALRq