HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing Programs (Multifamily), which oversees contracts with private owners of HUD-assisted properties, issued its tenth update to “Questions and Answers for Office of Multifamily Housing Stakeholders: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)” on April 2. The most recent previous update was on January 31 (see Memo, 1/19). The latest version updates six questions and adds seven new questions. This article highlights two updated questions and four new questions most relevant to residents and advocates.
In the “General Multifamily Housing” section, under the “Resident Health” subsection, Q16 (page 8) is new. Multifamily has begun to facilitate delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine to HUD-assisted residents of senior properties with other federal agencies, local public health officials, health insurers, providers, community-based health organizations (such as Area Agencies on Aging, Centers for Independent Living, and Aging and Disability Resource Centers) and other organizations that may be able to assist residents to access sites that are administering vaccines.
In the “CARES Act and Additional Resources Available for Response” section, under the “Household Stimulus Payments, Other Income, and Unemployment Compensation” subsection, Q7 (page 12) is new. It addresses benefits from the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) and “Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021” (HEERF II). For a Section 8 resident who is a student, the amount received through HEERF is excluded as annual income unless it exceeds tuition and any other required fees and charges. Any excess is considered income unless the resident is over the age of 23 and has dependent children, in which case the excess is excluded from income. Amounts received through HEERF II are to be treated in the same manner as HEERF.
In the “Policy and Operations” section, under “Financial Audits, Tenant Income Recertifications, and Utility Analyses” subsection, Q14 (page 25) is also new. It addresses the one-time stimulus payments provided through the “2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act” as well as income provided through the August 8, 2020, Presidential Memoranda (PM) that provided $400 per week of additional unemployment benefits. Multifamily states that annual income does not include temporary, nonrecurring, or sporadic income, such as that provided by the one-time stimulus payments. The temporary unemployment benefits available through the PM is excluded because the PM authorized the $400 per week under the Stafford Act using FEMA’s Lost Wages Assistance Program, which is normally excludable income. Any additional future one-time stimulus payments made directly to households would be excluded from annual income, because they too would be temporary, nonrecurring payments.
Q12 (page 24) is updated. The reworded Q12 addresses retroactive rent reduction when a tenant’s income decreases. A distinction is made between a tenant complying or failing to comply with interim income reporting requirements.
Specifically, when a tenant complies with interim reporting requirements, an owner/agent must retroactively apply any reduction in rent starting with the first day of the month after the date of the action that caused the decrease in income. However, when a tenant does not comply with interim reporting requirements and an owner discovers the tenant has failed to report a decrease in income, any resulting rent decrease must be implemented effective the first rent period following completion of the recertification.
While owners/agents are responsible for setting policies prescribing when and under what conditions a household must report a change in income or composition, Multifamily encourages owners to consider extenuating circumstances in setting and implementing recertification policies during the coronavirus National Emergency.
Q12 continues to refer to the policy in Handbook 4350.3, REV-1, paragraph 7-11 for further information on owner/agent responsibilities when a tenant reports a decrease in income, adding reference to Handbook 4350.3, REV-1, paragraph 7-13 for further information on effective dates for interim recertifications.
Q16 (page 26) is new, explaining that items intended to prevent illness or to reduce the risk of transmitting illness, including personal protective equipment (PPE), can be an eligible medical expense for tenants when recommended by the CDC. Items such as face coverings or PPE (e.g., goggles and gloves) are an eligible medical expense if the item was purchased on or after March 27, 2020, and only for the period during which a national, state, or local coronavirus emergency is in effect. In addition to being included as a current medical expense, eligible households are allowed to include these items as a medical expense retroactive to March 27, 2020 and calculate total tenant payment (TTP) accordingly.
In the “Available Resources for Emergency Expenses and Debt Service” subsection of the “Policy and Operations” section, Q27 (page 29) is updated to indicate that Multifamily property owners and agents can access property operating accounts for all reasonable and necessary coronavirus-related preparedness and response actions, including hosting a vaccination site at the property. Property funds can be used to cover the following types of expenses associated with operating a vaccination site: materials and supplies needed to set up a site (e.g., tents, barriers, etc.) and costs related to providing residents with transportation to and from a site. No advance HUD approval is required to access operating account funds.
Multifamily also issued on April 2 “Questions and Answers for Office of Multifamily Housing Stakeholders: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Eviction Moratorium Order,” which for the first time is a stand-alone document covering the same topic previously included as part of the larger “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Questions and Answers.” The CDC Eviction Moratorium Questions and Answers document has three minor updates, none of which are significant.
“Questions and Answers for Office of Multifamily Housing Stakeholders: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)” is at: https://bit.ly/3cZMGZo
“Questions and Answers for Office of Multifamily Housing Stakeholders: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Eviction Moratorium Order” is at: https://bit.ly/3wA9FSu
More information about Project-Based Rental Assistance is on page 4-61 of NLIHC’s 2020 Advocates’ Guide.