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HUD Office of Multifamily Housing Issues Coronavirus FAQs

HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing Programs (Multifamily), which oversees contracts with private owners of HUD-assisted properties, issued “Questions and Answers for Office of Multifamily Housing Stakeholders” pertaining to the coronavirus and COVID-19.

In response to a number of theoretical questions the answer is often: “Follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, directions given by local health officials, and Chapter 38 of Multifamily Handbook 4350.1, Emergency and Disaster Guidance.”

HUD indicates it intends to provide regular updates to stakeholders via email to national stakeholder groups to forward to their members, as well as to HUD Multifamily Field Offices for distribution to stakeholders in their jurisdictions.

One hypothetical question asks, “If a person under quarantine has additional family members who need to be kept separate, what are a property manager’s options for meeting those needs? What if managers are being asked to use vacant units for quarantine?” HUD responds, “Resident requests to occupy vacant units or temporarily relocate should be verified before being granted. Verification could include written communication from a medical health professional or through communication with the local health department.”

An important hypothetical question asks whether HUD will make rent payment relief or additional assistance available if tenants fall under adverse conditions due to COVID-19. Because Congress has not provided additional funds for this purpose, HUD can only encourage property owners to work with affected residents to adjust rent payments or enter into forbearance agreements.

The FAQ states that property owners must process an interim income recertification if a resident reports a decrease in income due to COVID-19 that will last for more than one month. Property owners should already have a policy, according to Chapter 7 of Handbook 4350.1. In addition, property owners may consider granting extra time for income recertification if a resident who has COVID-19 or who is in quarantine requests an extension.

Regarding extra costs property owners might bear in response to preparedness, such as extra supplies and staff overtime, HUD says owners can access property operating accounts without HUD approval. To the extent advances to owners are needed, however, HUD approval is required. For properties with reserve-for-replacement accounts, funds should be accessed according to current policy in Chapter 4 of Handbook 4350.1.

“Questions and Answers for Office of Multifamily Housing Stakeholders” pertaining to the coronavirus and COVID-19 is at: https://bit.ly/2IKaekO

NLIHC has a new webpage about coronavirus and housing and homelessness at: https://bit.ly/2wPKFMA

More information about the Office of Multifamily’s Project-Based Rental Assistance program is on page 4-46 of NLIHC’s 2019 Advocates’ Guide.