Modified MTW Operations Notice Published for Comment

HUD published a modified Moving to Work (MTW) Demonstration Program “Operations Notice” on October 5 that establishes requirements for the implementing the MTW demonstration program for public housing agencies (PHAs) applying for one of the 100 new MTW slots authorized in 2016. The original Operations Notice was published on January 23, 2017.

The “Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016” authorized HUD to expand the MTW Demonstration Program to an additional 100 high performing PHAs over a seven-year period. PHAs will be added to the MTW demonstration in annual cohorts, each of which will be overseen by a research advisory committee to ensure the demonstrations are evaluated with rigorous research protocols, quantitative analysis, and comparisons to control groups. Each year’s cohort of MTW sites will be directed by HUD to test one specific policy change.

NLIHC submitted comments regarding the draft Operations Notice for Expansion of the MTW Demonstration Program (see Memo, 5/8/17). Among other comments, NLIHC conveyed strong opposition to the inclusion of work requirements, time limits, and major changes to rent policies among possible “conditional waivers” in the draft Operations Notice.

According to HUD, the revised Operations Notice has seven primary changes. The most notable change is that HUD has removed what the draft Notice called “Conditional Waivers” (listed in Appendix B of the draft Notice), as well as “General Waivers” (listed in Appendix A of the previous Notice). In their place, HUD will have “MTW Waivers.” The revised Notice states that “MTW Waivers” are described in an Appendix, but that Appendix is not yet available. NLIHC contacted HUD and was informed that the version of the revised Operations Notice sent to the Federal Register mistakenly did not include the Appendix. HUD intends to correct this in the coming days.

The October 5 version of the Operations Notice indicates that the Appendix will list the available waivers and associated activities of the new “MTW Waivers” category. The Appendix will also include “safe harbors” that identify additional requirements a PHA must follow to carry out MTW activities without needing HUD approval. The Appendix will also include specific guidance regarding analyses of impacts on residents and hardship policies.

The October 5 version also explains that PHAs may request “Agency-Specific Waivers.”  There will be two categories of Agency-Specific Waiver requests:

  1. A request to waive a statutory or regulatory requirement, or to implement an activity that is not listed in the Appendix.
  2. A request to expand an activity that is in the Appendix outside the listed safe harbor.

As with the draft Operations Notice, there will be “Cohort-Specific Waivers” specified in forthcoming “Selection Notices.” For example, just prior to January 23, 2017, HUD published PIH Notice 2017-1 requesting PHAs to apply for MTW status as part of the first cohort (see Memo, 1/23/17). But HUD withdrew PIH Notice 2017-1 prior to formal publication on January 23, 2017.

The October 5 Federal Register notice states that the public has until November 19 to comment on the revised Operations Notice. Given that the crucial Appendix is not available, however, NLIHC assumes a new comment due date will be published.

NLIHC will provide further descriptions and analysis in future issues of Memo to Members and Partners.

The October 5 Federal Register notice version of the revised Operations Notice is at: