HUD PIH Announces Additional Mainstream Vouchers and CARES Act Waivers

HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) posted Notice PIH-2020-22 announcing an opportunity for public housing agencies (PHAs) to receive new Mainstream Vouchers. The Notice also provides three statutory and regulatory waivers for Mainstream Vouchers. The CARES Act authorizes PIH to offer $150 million in Mainstream Voucher funding carried over from FY18 and FY19 appropriations in order to help PHAs prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus. The funding is available on a non-competitive basis. Mainstream Vouchers serve households that include non-elderly people with disabilities.

Any PHA that administers the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program is eligible for a Mainstream Voucher award. However, PIH suggests PHAs that received an award through the FY17 or FY19 Mainstream Voucher Notices of Funding Availability (NOFAs) should consider their remaining unutilized vouchers and the 30% increase they received through Notice PIH-2020-09 (see Memo, 5/18) when deciding whether to apply for the additional Mainstream Vouchers. PIH might decide to not award additional Mainstream Vouchers to PHAs that have used fewer than 20% of the vouchers awarded to them through the FY17 NOFA. The notice recommends PHAs not currently administering Mainstream Vouchers to refer to Notice PIH-2020-01 (see Memo, 2/3) for additional information about the program policies. The deadline to apply is December 31, 2020.

An application must provide a short description of the specific need for Mainstream Vouchers and how that need relates to a PHA’s efforts to prevent, prepare for, or respond to the coronavirus. The maximum number of new Mainstream Vouchers that PIH will award is determined by the number of HCVs a PHA administers: 100 new Mainstream Vouchers for PHAs with more than 5,000 HCVs, 75 for PHAs with 1,000 to 4,999 HCVs, and 40 for PHAs with fewer than 1,000 HCVs.

The notice also provides three waivers specifically for these new Mainstream Vouchers.

A PHA may enter into an initial lease term of less than one year regardless of whether the shorter term is a prevailing market practice.

A PHA may establish screening requirements for people applying for a Mainstream Voucher that are distinct from the regular HCV screening requirements. However, at a minimum a PHA must comply with the statutory requirement to determine whether an applicant is subject to a lifetime sex offender registration requirement. This waiver is intended to help people transitioning out of institutional settings or emergency temporary housing to secure long-term housing in the midst of the pandemic.

A PHA may issue a Mainstream Voucher to someone before turning age 62 but who was not yet 63 on the date of their Mainstream voucher Housing Assistance Contract. Normally, to be eligible a person must be between 18 and 62 years of age. In the context of the pandemic, someone who is issued a Mainstream Voucher at age 61 might not be able to lease a home before their 62nd birthday.

These waivers may be used in addition to those provided in Notice PIH-2020-13 (see Memo, 7/13).

If a PHA chooses to apply any of the waivers it is required to notify voucher households and owners of any impacts that the waiver and any alternative requirement may have on them by whatever means the PHA considers most effective as soon as practical. A PHA must ensure that the method of communication ensures effective communication with persons with disabilities, including those with vision, hearing, and other communication-related disabilities. Effective communication includes ensuring that information is provided in appropriate accessible formats as needed, such as Braille, audio, large type, assistive listening devices, and sign language interpreters, accessible website, and other accessible electronic communications. A PHA must also take reasonable steps to ensure meaningful access for persons with limited English proficiency.

Notice PIH-2020-22 is at:

More information about Mainstream Vouchers is on page 4-23 of NLIHC’s 2020 Advocates’ Guide.