Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing Expresses Concern about PHAs’ Slow Use of Supplemental CARES Act Funds

Hunter Kurtz, assistant secretary of HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH), sent a letter on August 4 to public housing agency (PHA) executive directors expressing concern about the slow use of supplemental CARES Act funding. The letter states that to-date, PHAs have drawn down and spent only $103 million in supplemental public housing Operating Funds –15% of the $685 million available.

The letter reminds PHAs that the CARES Act offers broad flexibility, allowing the supplemental Operating Fund to be used for any eligible public housing Operating Fund or Capital Fund activity. These funds may also be used to cover expenses necessary to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus. In addition, PHAs may flexibly use Operating and Capital Fund money from FY20 and previous years for any normal or coronavirus public housing operating and capital expense.

Without indicating to what extent PHAs are drawing down and spending the $850 million CARES Act supplemental funding for the administrative fee component of the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, the letter reminds PHA executive directors that the act offers flexibility for spending HCV administrative fees for both supplemental funds and funds provided by the regular FY20 appropriation. Eligible costs include activities to: (1) support or maintain the health and safety of assisted households during the pandemic; (2) retain and support owners accepting HCVs; and (3) pay for routine administrative expenses associated with the HCV program (see article about Notice PIH 2020-18 announcing second and final allocation of this money elsewhere in this issue of Memo).

The letter also reminds PHA executive directors that the CARES Act allocated $400 million for supplemental housing assistance payment (HAP) contract funding. This supplemental HAP funding is available for PHAs that either experience a significant increase in voucher per unit costs due to extraordinary circumstances, or that would otherwise be required to terminate voucher assistance for households as a result of insufficient funding (see article about Notice PIH 2020-17 elsewhere in this issue of Memo.)

Assistant Secretary Kurtz’s August 4 letter is at:

More information about the public housing is on page 4-30 of NLIHC’s 2020 Advocates’ Guide.

More information about the Housing Choice Voucher program is on page 4-1 of NLIHC’s 2020 Advocates’ Guide.