HUD’s Office of Affordable Housing Programs (OAHP) in the Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD) issued “HOME-ARP Policy Brief: Preferences, Methods of Prioritization, and Limitations” on May 17. Preferences and limitations are frequently mentioned in CPD Notice 21-10: Requirements for the Use of Funds in the HOME-American Rescue Plan (HOME-ARP) Program. The policy brief explains and clarifies the requirements for establishing preferences and limitations and details how preferences and limitations affect permissible client referral methods. The brief does not establish new requirements.
The “American Rescue Plan” (ARP) provided $5 billion to assist individuals or households who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, as well as members of other vulnerable populations, by providing access to housing, rental assistance, supportive services, and non-congregate shelter in order to reduce homelessness and increase housing stability. (Notwithstanding the program’s title, HOME-ARP is very different from the regular HOME program.)
In the ARP, Congress identified four “qualifying populations” (QPs) that would be assisted:
- People experiencing homelessness.
- People at risk of homelessness.
- People fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking.
- Members of other populations who do not qualify under the above three situations but either require services or housing assistance to prevent homelessness or who are at the greatest risk of housing instability.
The policy brief asserts that, according to congressional intent, HOME-ARP activities are to benefit members of all four QPs. Therefore, participating jurisdictions (PJs) must design and administer their HOME-ARP programs to provide members of all four QPs with access to HOME-ARP projects and activities. This means that PJs must allow members of all four QPs to apply for or be referred to HOME-ARP projects or activities. In practice, access may not always result in households from all four QPs being served by a PJ’s HOME-ARP program (e.g., by being admitted to a HOME-ARP unit or receiving HOME-ARP supportive services), but a PJ may not exclude or remove the eligibility of any QP from its HOME-ARP program.
The policy brief explains that preferences are used to establish the order in which applicants are admitted to housing or shelter or are provided with HOME-ARP services or tenant-based rental assistance (TBRA). A preference provides a priority in the selection of applicants for a project or activity among QPs (e.g., the QP comprising people experiencing homelessness) or people who are in a specific category or subpopulation within a QP (e.g., elderly persons or persons with disabilities belonging to one or more QPs). PJs are allowed to establish reasonable preferences among the four QPs or for a subpopulation of the QPs to prioritize applicants in a specific QP or subpopulation. A preference permits a QP applicant who qualifies for a PJ-adopted preference to be selected for HOME-ARP assistance before another QP applicant who does not qualify for a preference. The policy brief describes several ways that preferences can be implemented.
The policy brief explains that limitations exclude certain QPs or subpopulations of QPs from eligibility for a project or activity. PJs should not impose a limitation on eligibility unless necessary to address a wider gap in effective housing, aid, benefit, or services in the PJ’s geographic area, and no HOME-ARP project or activity can address the gap through a preference. HUD strongly recommends that PJs consult with the Field Office of HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) before establishing a limitation that might have fair housing or civil rights implications.
Read the “HOME-ARP Policy Brief: Preferences, Methods of Prioritization, and Limitations” at: https://bit.ly/39v2Jin
View CPD’s HOME-ARP website at: https://bit.ly/3LbFnfb