HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) posted a fifth update to its frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the Emergency Housing Voucher (EHV) program created by the “American Rescue Plan Act” (ARPA). Public housing agencies (PHAs) were eligible to apply for 70,000 EHVs (see Memo, 5/10), and PIH announced the EHV allocations available to 696 PHAs (see Memo, 5/17). The new guidance adds 17 FAQs and updates one from the previous version (see Memo, 7/26). The FAQs most important to residents and advocates are highlighted here.
Five of the new FAQs (pages 4-5) under the “Eligibility” section concern issues related to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, and human trafficking:
- FAQ15 clarifies that in determining whether someone is eligible for EHV, a Continuum of Care (Coc) or Victim Service Provider (VSP) may accept an individual’s self-definition of “fleeing or attempting to flee” domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking.
- FAQ16 states that a minor child may be a victim, thereby making the family eligible for EHV.
- FAQ17 indicates that a family that previously received a Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) emergency transfer or otherwise moved because of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking may qualify for EHV.
- FAQ18 clarifies that non-citizens claiming eligible immigration status who are VAWA self-petitioners are eligible for EHV.
- FAQ19 explains that “imminent harm” refers to a tenant’s belief or fear of the threat or danger of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking, based on their experiences and responses to violence, threats, and trauma that they will face if they remain in the unit they currently occupy.
Four of the five new FAQs under the “Voucher Administration” section (pages 13-15) also concern issues related to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, and human trafficking, including:
- FAQ38 addresses “mitigating circumstances” factors PHAs should consider regarding admitting someone into the EHV program who is a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, and human trafficking. Under VAWA, applicants and tenants may not be denied assistance or have assistance terminated under a covered housing program, including EHV, based on or as a direct result of the fact that the applicant or tenant is or has been a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. The FAQ cites Notice PIH 2017-08, which describes examples of factors to consider when a PHA weighs “mitigating circumstances.” For, example, PHAs should consider that an adverse factor, such as poor rental history or poor credit history, may be a direct result of the applicant or tenant being or has been a victim.
- FAQ39 addresses a situation entailing someone applying for EHV who has a criminal history but who is also a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking. The FAQ refers readers to Notice PIH 2017-08 for examples of adverse factors that might be a direct result of violence.
FAQ21 (page 6) offers suggestions and reinforces existing Fair Housing Act guidance to ensure that eligible LGBTQ+ people have equal access to EHV. To reduce barriers to assistance, PHAs should strive to make the delivery of assistance and the administration of the EHV program open, inclusive, and welcoming to LGBTQ+ individuals and families experiencing homelessness. HUD strongly encourages PHAs, CoCs, and other referring partners to incorporate inclusive and culturally competent strategies to reduce barriers to assistance for the LGBTQ+ community. Referring partners should consider partnering with local organizations serving the LGBTQ+ community for assistance in conducting outreach to the LGBTQ+ community.
PHAs must provide equal access to EHVs for LGBTQ+ individuals and their families, including when they have been unable to access housing or services from other providers. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination because of sex, including sexual orientation and gender identity. HUD’s Equal Access Rule also prohibits PHAs, CoCs, and other HUD-assisted housing providers from denying access to housing, housing programs, and homeless services because of a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. Therefore, PHAs and other HUD-assisted housing providers should have nondiscrimination policies that explicitly prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals and families. In addition, PHAs and other referring providers must recognize LGBTQ+ family units, including unmarried domestic partners, same-sex spouses, and persons who have child-rearing responsibilities even when those persons are not the biological or adoptive parents of the child.
Four FAQs are in the “Administrative and Service Fees” section (pages 21-22), and one is in the “Portability” section (page 27). FAQ42 (page 16) is updated.
“Emergency Housing Vouchers, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) v.5” is at: https://bit.ly/3ihxadB
The Emergency Housing Voucher website is at: https://bit.ly/3wdoeuG