NLIHC, the National Alliance of HUD Tenants (NAHT), and the National Housing Law Project (NHLP) sent a letter to HUD urging the agency to take immediate action to mandate and streamline interim income recertifications. The letter was sent on March 26 to HUD Assistant Secretary for Housing Brian Montgomery and Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing Hunter Kurtz.
Most tenants face a rental due date of April 1. At the time the letter was sent, Congress was finalizing a broad package for COVID‐19 relief that included both eviction protections and additional funding to provide prompt rent relief for HUD‐assisted and public housing tenants. The language in the bill provides HUD with broad waiver authority for each account. Therefore, HUD has both the authority and the funding to fully protect the housing and rent security of all HUD‐assisted and public housing tenants.
The regulations for both public housing and Section 8 programs require a tenant request to trigger an interim recertification, and the regulations allow PHAs and owners to adopt additional procedures governing recertification processing. Because many tenants may be unaware of the “tenant request” requirement, and because of obvious limitations on PHA and owner capacity to send out a speedy reminder notice and to process recertification requests before April 1, HUD should issue emergency guidance waiving the tenant-request requirement and establishing a clear emergency rent recertification policy.
The letter provides ten overall policy recommendations, including:
- If rent is not paid when due for April and other months during the emergency (and a reasonable period thereafter), PHAs and owners should presume that the cause is a reduction in income (a “constructive request”) and begin the interim recertification process.
- HUD should suspend, effective April 1, any regulatory text or Handbook guidance that impose additional impediments to making recertifications, such as “reasonable time” periods for PHA or owner action, ordinary verification requirements, or any other provisions that permit denial or delay of prompt interim recertifications.
- For any other rental arrearages accumulated during the emergency, HUD should instruct owners to first ensure proper application of the emergency rent recertification policy, and to execute reasonable repayment plans that recognize the need to keep total monthly rent burdens affordable.
- HUD should clarify that any funds provided directly to tenants as part of federal stimulus efforts are not income for the purposes of calculating a tenant’s rent contribution.
The joint letter is at: https://bit.ly/2WMkBNi
More information about public housing is on page 4-25 of NLIHC’s 2019 Advocates’ Guide.
More information about project-based housing is on page 4-46 of NLIHC’s 2019 Advocates’ Guide.