HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) issued Notice PIH 2022-18 providing guidance to public housing agencies (PHAs) that choose to use some of their Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Administrative Fee fund allocations for non-traditional “other expenses” to help households with vouchers successfully lease homes. The “other expenses” covered by the notice include (1) incentives for owners to lease to households with vouchers and/or to renew voucher households’ leases; (2) security deposit payments; (3) utility deposit assistance; (4) funds for owner application fees; (5) funds for “holding” fees for owners; and (6) funds to pay for renter’s insurance assistance for households. The notice also lists other eligible uses for PHAs’ administrative fee funds.
The notice explains that for the first time in recent years, the “Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022” provides funding not only for typical HCV administrative activities, but also for “other expenses.” With such express congressional authorization, PIH has revisited its previous guidance regarding the eligible use of administrative fee funds to allow PHAs to carry out six activities described as “other expenses” in Notice PIH 2022-18 intended to help HCV households successfully lease units. If a PHA chooses to use some of its administrative fee funds for any of the “other expenses,” it must first adopt a policy in its PHA Administrative Plan governing the terms and conditions of an activity.
The six “other expenses” are:
- Owner Incentive and/or Retention Payments. A PHA may make an incentive payment, such as a “signing bonus,” to encourage an owner to initially lease a unit to an HCV household. A PHA may also make retention payments to owners in order to encourage them to renew an HCV lease. PHAs may design these incentives to meet specific needs, such as limiting incentive payments to owners with units in high opportunity neighborhoods.
- Security Deposit Assistance. A household with a voucher might not have sufficient savings to meet an owner’s requirement for a security deposit. Therefore, a PHA may choose to provide security deposit assistance for a household in order to help it secure a lease with its voucher.
- Utility Deposit Assistance and/or Utility Arrears Assistance. Another obstacle some households with a new voucher might encounter is paying for utility deposits or hook-up fees. Therefore, a PHA may choose to cover such expenses. In addition, some households with new vouchers might have unpaid utility bills, making it difficult to establish utility services at their prospective HCV-assisted units. Therefore, a PHA may choose to help voucher households cover their previous utility payment arrears.
- Application Fees. A PHA may choose to assist a new voucher household with any upfront application fees, broker fees, etc.
- Holding Fees. In some locales, owners request a “holding fee” to cover the time between a voucher household’s application being accepted and a lease being signed. Generally, the holding fee is rolled into the security deposit and an owner can only keep the holding fee if the household is at fault for not entering into a lease.
- Renter’s Insurance. If renter’s insurance is required by an owner’s lease, a PHA may assist a voucher household with some or all of the cost of renter’s insurance.
The list of typical eligible uses of administrative fee funds are presented in two paragraphs and might be instructive for some residents, advocates, and other readers. In addition to paying for PHA staff to administer the HCV program – such as by reviewing applications, making income determinations and reexaminations, and conducting unit inspections – administrative fee funds have been able to cover activities such as pre-move counseling, helping households identify and visit potential units, and providing landlord/tenant mediation.
Read Notice PIH 2022-18 at: https://bit.ly/3QFk4WR
Read more about the Housing Choice Voucher program on page 4-1 of NLIHC’s 2022 Advocates’ Guide.