HUD Acting Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development (CPD) John Gibbs signed a Memorandum, “Availability of Waivers and Suspensions of the HOME Program Requirements in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic,” dated April 10 that provides a number of waivers to HOME regulations in order to address immediate housing needs and to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Four waivers are only available to participating jurisdictions (PJs) in presidentially declared major disaster areas as a result of coronavirus. Another eight waivers are available to all PJs. HUD’s Office of Affordable Housing Programs (OAHP) administers the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) within CPD.
On April 10, Acting Assistant Secretary Gibbs also signed another Memorandum, “Suspensions and Waivers to Facilitate Use of HOME-Assisted Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) for Emergency and Short-term Assistance in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic.” A separate article summarizing that Memorandum is in this issue of Memo.
PJs in Presidentially Declared Major Disaster Areas
The four waivers available only to PJs in presidentially declared major disaster areas as a result of coronavirus include:
PJs may spend up to 25% of their FY19 and FY20 HOME allocations (plus program income) for administrative costs (up from 10%). The waiver is meant to provide PJs with adequate funds to pay for the increased cost of administering HOME-related activities to address the effects of the coronavirus, including attempts to prevent the spread of the virus.
The 15% set-aside for Community Housing Development Organizations (CHDOs) is waived. The intent is to make additional HOME funds immediately available for activities such as tenant-based rental assistance for which CHDO set-aside funds cannot be used. (NLIHC notes that the waiver does not require the use for tenant-based rental assistance.)
PJs may use up to 10% of their FY19 and FY20 HOME allocations for CHDO operating assistance (up from 5%). PJs may also allow a CHDO receiving increased operating assistance fill operating budget shortfalls even if the amount exceeds (the regular regulatory limit of) the higher of $50,000 or 50% of its annual operating budget. CHDOs receiving increased operating assistance must use it to maintain organizational capacity during the pandemic. CHDOs may receive increased operating assistance through June 30, 2021.
The 25% match requirement is waived for funds expended between October 1, 2019 and September 30, 2021.
Waivers Available to All PJs
Key waivers available to all PJs, including those not in presidentially declared major disaster areas, include:
Allowing PJs to reduce the public notice and comment period to five days when amending Consolidated Plans (ConPans), Annual Action Plans, and Citizen Participation Plans. This waiver is in effect for any necessary Substantial Amendments to FY20 and earlier ConPlans and Action Plans.
Allowing PJs to use a household’s self-certification that they are income-eligible. This waiver applies to households who have lost employment or income either permanently or temporarily due to the pandemic and who are applying for admission to a HOME rental unit or a HOME tenant-based rental assistance program. This waiver also applies to homeless households who are applying for admission to a HOME rental unit or a HOME tenant-based rental assistance program. Emergency tax relief (commonly referred to as stimulus payment) is not counted. This waiver is in effect through December 31, 2020.
Eliminating the requirement to conduct periodic on-site inspections to determine property standards and to verify information submitted by owners regarding tenant income requirements and rent requirements. PJs must still perform initial inspections of rental properties upon completion of construction or rehabilitation. Within 120 days of the end of this waiver period, PJs must physically inspect units that would have been subject to on-going inspections during the waiver period. The waiver is in effect through December 31, 2020.
Eliminating the requirement to conduct annual Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspections at units assisted with HOME tenant-based rental assistance (TBRA) that were scheduled to take place between April 10 and December 31, 2020. Within 120 days of the expiration of this waiver period, PJs must inspect units that would have been subject to HQS inspections during the waiver period. In addition, PJs must make reasonable efforts to address any tenant-reported health and safety issues during the waiver period.
Waiving the requirement that HOME projects be completed within four years from the date that HOME funds were committed. The waiver applies to projects for which the four-year project completion deadline will occur on or after April 10. The completion deadlines are extended to December 31, 2020.
Allowing PJs to provide additional HOME funds to recapitalize operating deficit reserves for HOME-assisted rental projects if the PJ determines that the project is experiencing operating deficits related to the economic effects of the pandemic during the waiver period. PJs must amend the HOME written agreement with the project owner to, among other requirements, specify that the owner must forego: any right under the existing lease agreement or state or local law to pursue legal action against tenants of HOME-assisted units for non-payment of rent and the collection of any fees associated with late payments without prior approval of the PJ; and any adverse credit reporting against tenants of HOME-assisted units for nonpayment of rent or fees without prior approval of the PJ. The waiver is effective through December 31, 2020.
“Availability of Waivers and Suspensions of the HOME Program Requirements in Response to COVID -19 Pandemic” is at: https://bit.ly/34JYnNS
More information about the HOME program is on page 5-5 of NLIHC’s 2020 Advocates’ Guide.