HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) issued “COVID-19 FAQs for the Public Housing, Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) – including the Project-based Voucher Program (PBV) – and Native American Programs.” The FAQs are not dated, but HUD indicates they are as of March 13 on HUD’s COVID-19 ("Coronavirus") Information and Resources webpage.
Until further notice, Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) property inspections are postponed for all PIH properties. Where there is an exigent circumstance or reason to believe that there is a threat to life or property at a specific location, inspections will be conducted by HUD quality assurance inspectors in compliance with Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.
PHA Plan submission deadlines and annual resident income recertifications are required by statute and cannot be waived. HUD recognizes, however, that local circumstances may impact a public housing agency’s (PHA’s) ability to comply with certain requirements, including deadlines. HUD encourages PHAs to prioritize efforts to reduce or mitigate the risk of infection. The assistant secretary of Public and Indian Housing can consider regulatory waivers for PHAs, Tribes, and Tribally Designated Housing Entities (TDHEs) significantly impacted by a COVID-19 outbreak. Waivers will be expedited during this period.
Regarding deadlines for income recertifications, Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspections, and extensions on voucher and lease-ups, the FAQ indicates waivers are not needed for voucher extensions and lease-up. With respect to HQS inspections, HUD encourages PHAs to use existing inspection flexibilities. If they have not already, PHAs should consider adopting biennial inspections (Notice PIH 2016-05: Attachment K: Biennial inspections and the use of alternative inspection methods and inspection timeframes).
If a COVID-19 outbreak occurs and residents must stay home and subsequently cannot pay rent due to a loss of income, assisted families in the public housing and Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) programs currently have the ability to report decreases in income. PHAs then adjust the family share of the rent and can grant hardship exemptions consistent with regulations and the PHA’s policies. A decrease in family income is not the basis for a termination of tenancy action in the HCV program or for eviction from public housing.
In light of these extraordinary circumstances, HUD encourages PHAs and owners of Project-Based Voucher (PBV) properties to prevent the displacement of families through eviction which significantly increases the risk of homelessness and overcrowding. Tribes and TDHEs administering the Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) program are encouraged to use their discretion and best judgment to provide relief to any residents who cannot meet their rent obligations under these circumstances.
Public housing Operating Funds can be used to cover staff labor hours for planning and response, personal protective equipment (PPE), and cleaning supplies such as disinfectants, sanitizers, etc.
PHAs may use public housing Capital Funds to cover costs of capital expenditures designed to improve the safety of residents such as improved ventilation systems and high-grade filters, portable air filtration equipment, and portable humidifiers. PHAs may also use Capital Funds as management improvements to cover costs such as sanitation equipment for common areas, emergency planning, public health training, and IT equipment and upgrades to allow for remote public meetings or telework by PHA staff.
The FAQ provides a long list of eligible activities under the Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) program, starting on page 6. The Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG) program allows for a wide range of uses. Although Single Purpose ICDBG grants are awarded for specific projects, HUD will consider any program amendments submitted by Tribes in accordance with 24 CFR 1003.305 to help address the impact of COVID-19.
“COVID-19 FAQs for the Public Housing, Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) – including the Project-based Voucher Program (PBV) – and Native American Programs” is at: https://bit.ly/3dcXlxV
HUD’s COVID-19 ("Coronavirus") Information and Resources webpage is at: https://www.hud.gov/coronavirus
NLIHC has a new webpage about coronavirus and housing and homelessness at: https://bit.ly/2wPKFMA
More about public housing is on page 4-25 of NLIHC’s 2019 Advocates’ Guide.
More about Housing Choice Vouchers is on page 4-1 of NLIHC’s 2019 Advocates’ Guide.
More about Project-Based Vouchers is on page 4-7 of NLIHC’s 2019 Advocates’ Guide.
More about Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian Housing Programs is on page 5-25 of NLIHC’s 2019 Advocates’ Guide.