HUD’s Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) issued an inaugural newsletter “Get NSPIREd” on February 12. NSPIRE is an acronym for National Standards for Physical Inspection of Real Estate. The newsletter describes the new physical inspection model being tested on a voluntary, demonstration basis by public housing agencies (PHAs) and HUD-assisted multifamily property owners, both of which are currently subject to REAC’s 20-year-old Uniform Physical Conditions Standards (UPCS). NSPIRE seeks to give priority to a home’s health and safety over appearance (see Memo, 8/26/19).
According to a Federal Register notice on August 21, 2019, HUD intends to inspect over the course of two years 4,500 properties that voluntarily adopt HUD’s NSPIRE model. The NSPIRE model has three major components:
- Three types of inspections: 1) self-inspections by PHAs and owners and agents of private, HUD-assisted multifamily housing, 2) inspections conducted by contractors and/or federal inspectors, and 3) inspections conducted solely by federal inspectors. HUD has created a new acronym combining PHAs and HUD-assisted multifamily housing owners/agents – “POAs.” HUD will inspect participating properties at least once during the demonstration using the NSPIRE standards.
- Three categories of physical deficiencies: 1) health and safety, 2) function and operability, and 3) condition and appearance. HUD states that ideally each category could result in emergency work orders, routine work orders, and other maintenance.
- Three inspectable areas: 1) inside (common areas and building systems), 2) outside (building site and building envelope), and 3) units (the interiors of individual homes).
HUD issued early versions of NSPIRE standards (see Memo, 9/9/19), took comments, and issued changes to those standards in Version 1-2. HUD will continue accepting feedback regarding Version 1-2 standards. NSPIRE also posted lists of health and safety items (see Memo, 9/16/19).
HUD continues to seek POAs to voluntarily enlist some or all of their properties in the NSPIRE demonstration in order to reach a goal of 4,500 properties. As of early December, HUD staff reported that only about 1,000 properties were in the demonstration. The “Get NSPIREd” newsletter has a map showing how many public housing and multifamily housing units are engaged in each state. As of January 28, there were no units in Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, North Dakota, Wyoming, Guam, or the Virgin Islands.
The newsletter falsely claims that HUD met with key resident stakeholders “throughout the development of NSPIRE.” In fact, residents were not invited to any of the listening sessions despite a HUD media release on February 20, 2019 indicating that the public and stakeholders would be invited. After NLIHC asked HUD how residents could be involved in the listening sessions, HUD provided information to NLIHC, but not broadly to the public. By that time, two of the four remaining listening sessions were fully booked (see Memo, 3/11/19).
House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Representatives Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) sent a letter to HUD Secretary Ben Carson on November 18, 2019 urging HUD to better incorporate tenant perspectives in the NSPIRE demonstration (see Memo, 11/25/19). Subsequent to receiving the letter and after HUD met with leaders of the National Alliance of HUD Tenants (NAHT), REAC posted two new features on the NSPIRE website in mid-December, 2019, both in response to resident suggestions (see Memo, 12/16/19).
First, HUD will test methods for including up to five additional units to inspect, identified in advance by a resident organization, beyond the units randomly selected by inspectors during REAC inspections. If a property is not represented by a resident organization, NSPIRE will use a risk model to select additional units. Second, HUD will explore how to design and conduct resident surveys and how to integrate survey findings into the NSPIRE demonstration. NAHT has been advocating for these two provisions, among others, for many years. HUD’s REAC inspection system used to include a resident-service and -satisfaction indicator (RASS) that was based on a resident survey. The RASS was dropped in 2011.
The inaugural edition of “Get NSIREd” is at: https://bit.ly/2PaRPl0
Sign up to receive NSPIRE information from HUD at: https://bit.ly/2SHcJug
The NSPIRE website is at: https://bit.ly/2V9qvV3
Information about public housing is on page 4-25 of NLIHC’s 2019 Advocates’ Guide.
Information about HUD-assisted multifamily housing is on page 4-46 of NLIHC’s 2019 Advocates’ Guide.