Housing conference photos, NMA news, and more

John McKay presents housing conference photosOur fourth annual national housing conference was our best one yet, and we couldn’t have done it without you! Thank you to everyone who joined us at the The Housing Conference in San Antonio, Texas. To view a slideshow of photos from the event, go here. I’d like to extend a warm thank-you to our generous sponsors, HAI Group, HousingHubHTVN, and GoSection8, who helped make the conference a truly special event.

It was a real pleasure to enjoy face-to-face conversations with so many enthusiastic and thoughtful members of our industry who appreciate the unique challenges and successes we all navigate, whether new to affordable housing or an old pro. I continue to be inspired by what you’re doing to improve the lives of the families in your communities. For some more impressive achievements, go here to read about the honorees of the 2016 NMA Housing Awards.

If you missed us in San Antonio, we’d love to say hi to you at another event! The NMA team will be attending conferences this month for national NAHRO, Texas NAHRO, and the New England Affordable Housing Management Association (NEAHMA). Stop by the booth, pick up some goodies, and chat with one of our team members. We’ll see you next year for the fifth anniversary of The Housing Conference… location to be announced soon!

John McKay has been with NMA since 1998, and has served as CEO of the company since 2007. He brings his knowledge of housing regulations and industry best practices into his role as project executive on many of NMA’s contracts with large housing authority clients and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). He has assessed, analyzed, and provided feedback to some of the country’s most well-run private and public organizations.

NMA’s seminar calendar for Q1 2017 is now available!

affordable housing trainingWe’re pleased to announce the release of NMA’s seminar calendar for the first quarter of 2017. You can view a list of the affordable housing training that Nan McKay and Associates is offering from now through March on this page at our website.

Start planning your winter training now and save! If you register at least 45 days in advance for most seminars, you’ll receive a 10 percent discount. (The discount does not apply to seminars hosted by housing authorities or associations.)

All Nan McKay classes have been updated for the latest HUD rules and notices. Our Fair Housing and Reasonable Accommodation class, the most comprehensive training on fair housing regulations available, has been updated for the recent notices on LEP, sexual harassment, and nuisance ordinances. All of our HCV classes have been updated for the new payment standard rules from HOTMA and the recent Federal Register notice for the student rule.

Having trouble finding the class you want? We can bring the seminar to you. Email sales@nanmckay.com for more information about our affordable onsite training options.

Q&A: HOTMA implementation

Q&A: HOTMA implementationQUESTION    We understand that HOTMA was signed into law by the president on July 29, 2016. Inasmuch as there are many substantive administrative changes to the HCV and public housing programs contained in this new law, we are wondering whether PHAs need to await the issuance of a HUD notice before they implement these changes (for example, increase in elderly/disabled deduction, asset limitations, reporting changes of 10 percent or more) or whether PHAs are obligated to immediately adopt these changes even before HUD issues new rules clarifying this new law? We have many recertifications in the pipeline and an answer to this question will obviously impact these pipeline cases.

ANSWER    Most provisions of the Housing Opportunity through Modernization Act of 2016 (HOTMA) will not take effect until HUD has completed the formal rulemaking process. This typically involves issuance of a proposed rule, review of public comments, and publication of a final rule. Changes would likely go into effect 30 days after publication of the final rule, so it may be a year or more before PHAs are permitted to implement the new law.

Five self-implementing provisions of HOTMA were discussed in a letter to executive directors dated September 26. While the remaining HOTMA changes will be implemented through the formal rulemaking process, these five sections became effective immediately upon enactment. Implementation requirements are described below.

Reasonable accommodation payment standards: Section 102(d) of HOTMA provides that PHAs may establish, without HUD approval, a payment standard of up to 120 percent of the fair market rent (FMR) as a reasonable accommodation for a person with a disability. Since this option was made available under the March 8 streamlining final rule, no further action is required.

Fair market rents: Two changes involving FMRs are included in Section 107 of HOTMA. The first change involves HUD’s methods for establishing and publishing FMRs. HUD will no longer publish “proposed” and “final” versions of the FMRs, but PHAs and other interested parties may comment on the FMRs and request HUD to reevaluate them in a jurisdiction before those rents become effective. FMRs for fiscal year 2017 were published on August 26 using the new method.

HOTMA also provides that no PHA in the housing choice voucher (HCV) program is required, as a result of a reduction in the FMR, to reduce the payment standard applied to a family continuing to reside in a unit under a housing assistance payment (HAP) contract at the time the FMR was reduced. PHAs must adopt policies in their administrative plans that further explain this provision. According to the letter:

Effective July 29, 2016, PHAs may choose, but are no longer required, to reduce the payment standard for a family that remains under HAP contract at the family’s second annual reexamination if, as the result of a decrease in the FMR, the payment standard would otherwise fall outside the basic range. HUD will issue additional guidance on this change in the future.

Family Unification Program (FUP) changes: HOTMA expanded FUP eligibility and increased time limits for eligible youth. The changes were effective upon enactment. HUD issued a letter to FUP executive directors on August 29 to ensure awareness of the changes.

Citizenship preference: This provision applies only to Guam and requires a preference for U.S. citizens and nationals over citizens of the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and Palau. It was effective upon enactment of HOTMA.

Exception to resident board member requirement: HOTMA provides an exception to the requirement that the board must include at least one public housing resident for the Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles and for any PHA in the states of Alaska, Iowa, and Mississippi. Since the provision has been in effect for a number of years through appropriations acts, no further action is required.

The letter contained the following guidance on HOTMA implementation:

All of the other sections in HOTMA that impact the HCV and public housing programs require that HUD first issue a notice or regulation for the provision to become effective. Until HUD issues the applicable notices or regulations, your PHA may not implement those additional sections. This information will also be transmitted in the near future via a Federal Register notice.

We realize that many PHAs are eager to implement the flexibilities and other statutory changes provided under HOTMA, so please be assured that HUD is working diligently to develop and provide the necessary implementation guidance in a timely manner. If you have any questions, please send them to HOTMAquestions@hud.gov.

Are you a PIH Alert subscriber? Every Friday, the PIH Alert includes one frequently asked question (FAQ) submitted by our readers. To submit your question, email Annie Stevenson at annie@nanmckay.com with the subject line “FAQ Friday.” If you’d like to try a free 30-day trial subscription to the PIH Alert, email sales@nanmckay.com to get started.

Hats off to the 2016 NMA Housing Awards winners!

Yesterday at our fourth annual national housing conference in San Antonio, Nan McKay and Associates announced the four winners of the 2016 NMA Housing Awards. We first launched these awards nearly a decade ago to recognize excellence and innovation in the affordable housing industry.

Since then, we’ve been honored to read and evaluate a great number of worthy entries, and this year was no exception. Read on to learn more about this year’s winning agencies.

2016 NMA Housing Awards, Development2016 Development Award
(Large Agency)

Barton Block
Indianapolis Housing Agency

Barton Tower is one of IHA’s largest and oldest public housing communities, set in an urban neighborhood vastly different than the one that existed in 1968 when the tower originally opened. During the last decade, the surrounding area became one of Indianapolis’ premier cultural districts, turning the site into incredibly valuable real estate. Facing pressure to close Barton Tower and sell the property, IHA instead chose to reinvest in the tower and develop the remaining, underused parcel into Barton Block. IHA used innovative mixed financing to create a community asset that includes public open space, new and renovated affordable housing, and new businesses while preserving 372 rehabbed public housing units.

2016 NMA Housing Awards, Development2016 Development Award
(Small Agency)

Rockford Veterans Drop-In Center
Winnebago County Housing Authority

The Center provides supportive services to veterans and had been using shared, donated space with another nonprofit’s building. However, the Center was about to lose this space and the ability to provide services. When WCHA learned of the problem, they offered a large home recently acquired through the National Community Stabilization Trust (NCST) program as a rehab and repurposed building for the Center. The home was rehabbed over approximately 90 days, providing a like-new building with energy-efficient appliances, located next to public transportation and within a two-block radius of a pharmacy, retail shops, banks and restaurants. The work was so well-received that the city was able to pass a special zoning use permit in just 60 days.

2016 NMA Housing Awards, Resident Service2016 Resident Service Award
(Large Agency)

Conversation Over Pizza
Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority

In August of 2015, the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority launched a community initiative, Conversation Over Pizza, to provide a platform for residents to engage in productive dialogue. The goal of this resident-driven approach is to address the societal challenges faced by residents. CMHA, law enforcement, and community partners have facilitated ongoing focus groups to discuss and develop viable solutions for reducing crime, violence, and other community challenges. By raising awareness, listening to the community and working with residents, COP serves as a catalyst for building stronger community relationships and safer neighborhoods. This program is the first of its kind and has already been replicated by other cities, creating a national model that originated at CMHA.

2016 NMA Housing Awards, Resident Service2016 Resident Service Award
(Small Agency)

Full Circle Wrenching Crew
Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority

Full Circle is a year-round out-of-school program that provides youth receiving housing assistance with a positive and structured environment at no charge. Programs focus on empowering youth to develop new skills by trying new activities. As part of the program, children earned refurbished bicycles, helmets, lights, and locks. Once participants chose their bicycles, they learned how to properly put on a helmet, use and care for their bicycles and equipment, and ride safely. Full Circle Wrenching Crew promotes a can-do mentality along with the values of leadership, cooperation, and volunteerism by working with young people in a way that addresses their needs and wants. The responsibility, leadership, and maintenance skills gained through the program will benefit the participants for years to come.

The NMA Housing Awards is an annual event created to honor agencies that build bridges to the future and generate real change in their communities and the affordable housing industry. Entries for the 2017 awards will open this spring.

Affordable housing news 9/16/16

Boston Globe: Housing subsidies represent perhaps the country’s best shot at breaking intergenerational poverty

CityLab: The case for preservation instead of construction

CityLab: Most Americans are worried about losing their housing

Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies: How do U.S. renters fare compared to those around the world?

Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies: Older single women face greatest housing challenges

Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies: New data on incomes suggests growing demand for housing

Next City: What Texas ruling means for fair housing

Next City: Nashville affordable housing advocates score 2 victories

NLIHC: Congress debates stopgap funding to avoid government shutdown

NLIHC: U.S. ranks poorly in housing affordability among advanced countries

Rooflines: Why we need to invest greater resources into the role of residential property managers

San Francisco Chronicle (via Planetizen): Housing crisis linked to public health problems

Urban Wire: What new programs and policies should PHAs be testing?

Urban Wire: How MTW could teach us about the benefits and costs of car access

Urban Wire: How HUD and PHAs can support students

Urban Wire: To increase housing choice, try incentivizing landlords

HUD issues Fair Housing Act guidance on limited English proficiency

In a press release today, HUD announced that its Office of General Counsel (OGC) has issued new guidance on the application of the Fair Housing Act to a housing provider’s consideration of a person’s limited ability to read, write, speak, or understand English. Specifically, the guidance addresses how methods of proof apply with regards to disparate treatment and discriminatory effects in fair housing cases in which adverse housing actions are based on limited English proficiency (LEP). According to the notice:

  • A housing provider violates the Fair Housing Act if the provider uses a person’s LEP to discriminate intentionally because of race, national origin, or another protected characteristic.
  • Because of the close link between LEP and national origin or race, justifications for language-related restrictions in a Fair Housing Act case must be closely examined to determine whether the restriction is in fact a proxy or pretext for race or national origin discrimination.
  • Intentional discrimination may involve imposing restrictions, targeting individuals for unfair or illegal housing-related services, or failing to comply with the requirement to provide housing-related language assistance services to LEP persons.
  • A housing provider also violates the Fair Housing Act when the provider’s policy or practice has an unjustified discriminatory effect, even when the provider had no intent to discriminate. That is, even policies that appear neutral on the surface that potentially restrict access to LEP individuals can be seen as in violation to the act.
  • As with the nuisance guidance issued earlier this week, the LEP guidance covers the three steps used to analyze claims that a housing provider’s use of LEP results in an unjustified discriminatory effect in violation of the act, which includes: assessing the discriminatory effect; evaluating whether the challenged policy or practice is necessary to achieve a substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interest; and evaluating whether there is a less discriminatory alternative.

To read the press release, click here. To access the guidance document, click here.

Do you have concerns about whether or not your agency is compliant with federal fair housing law? Nan McKay and Associates can help. Contact sales@nanmckay.com for more information.

HUD releases final rule on harassment, guidance on nuisance ordinances

This morning, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published in the Federal Register a final rule to formalize legal standards under the Fair Housing Act with respect to sexual and other forms of harassment in housing.

The rule, “Quid Pro Quo and Hostile Environment Harassment and Liability for Discriminatory Housing Practices under the Fair Housing Act,” focuses on standards for use in investigations and adjudications involving allegations of harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, and disability. It also specifies how HUD will evaluate complaints of quid pro quo (“this for that”) and hostile environment harassment under the act, in addition to providing for uniform treatment of Fair Housing Act claims raising allegations of such harassment in administrative and judicial forums. Major provisions of the harassment final rule include:

  • Formalizing definitions of quid pro quo harassment and hostile environment harassment under the Fair Housing Act
  • Formalizing standards for evaluating claims of quid pro quo and hostile environment harassment under the act
  • Adding illustrations of prohibited quid pro quo and hostile environment harassment to HUD’s existing Fair Housing Act regulations
  • Identifying traditional principles of direct and vicarious liability applicable to all discriminatory housing practices under the act, including quid pro quo and hostile environment harassment

Part 100 of Title 24 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is the only part affected by the new rule. To view specific regulatory changes, most of which consist of additions, see pages 71 through 78 of the pre-publication copy of the harassment final rule, available here.

In an accompanying press release, HUD also announced that its Office of General Counsel (OGC) has issued new guidance on the application of Fair Housing Act standards to the enforcement of local “nuisance” and other “crime-free” housing ordinances to protect survivors of domestic violence, other crime victims, and those in need of police or emergency services. The basic idea behind the guidance is to explain how the Fair Housing Act applies to ensure that such ordinances do not lead to discrimination in violation of the act.

Of particular interest, Section III of the guidance lays out the three steps used to analyze whether a local government’s enforcement of such ordinances results in a Fair Housing Act violation. This includes:

  • Evaluating whether the challenged nuisance or crime-free housing ordinance policy or practice has a discriminatory effect
  • Evaluating whether the challenged ordinance is necessary to achieve a substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interest
  • Evaluating whether there is a less discriminatory alternative

A different analytical framework is used to evaluate claims of intentional discrimination, as outlined in Part IV of the guidance. For claims in which the ordinance is enacted for discriminatory reasons, courts look to certain factors, including:

  • The impact of the ordinance, i.e., whether it disproportionately impacts a certain population such as women, minority residents, or residents with disabilities
  • The historical background of the ordinance
  • The sequence of events by which the ordinance was adopted
  • Departures from the normal procedural sequence
  • Substantive departures, such as whether the factors considered should have suggested a different result
  • The legislative or administrative record

For claims in which the ordinance is selectively enforced in a discriminatory manner, the guidance notes that courts look for evidence from which an inference can be drawn—whether direct or circumstantial. Further details can be found in the Part VI of the guidance.

Finally, the guidance reminds those administering HUD programs of their duty to affirmatively further fair housing—to take meaningful action to overcome fair housing issues and barriers to housing—and to frame the assessment of nuisance and crime-free ordinances within this affirmative duty.

To read the press release on this guidance and the harassment final rule, click here. To access the guidance document, click here.

Do you have concerns about whether or not your agency is compliant with federal fair housing law? Nan McKay and Associates can help. Contact sales@nanmckay.com for more information.

Keynote Speech: Infinite Possibilities

Steve Murphy will be presenting the keynote speech at The Housing Conference in San Antonio
Steve Murphy will be presenting the keynote speech at The Housing Conference

Stephen D. Murphy, a senior consulting partner for The Ken Blanchard Companies, has a very entertaining, motivating, dynamic, and eye-opening facilitation style. He creates enthusiasm among his clients during the workshops, empowering them to turn conceptual information into methods they can use back at their job. As a result, people leave with a positive and memorable learning experience, work more effectively, increase their productivity, and achieve greater success.

Keynote Speech: Infinite Possibilities
Presenter, Steve Murphy

Infinite possibilities! That’s the mindset that can drive innovation, develop creativity, and produce amazing results. How do we maintain that mindset when surrounded by a tsunami of change and uncertainty? How do we continue to be passionate and mission-driven when faced with obstacles, both real and imagined? Steve Murphy, a senior consulting partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies, will fire up the “Change” grill and cook up some ideas to help you:

  • Stay focused, positive, AND proactive during these uncertain times.
  • Incorporate a more “change-adaptive” mindset.
  • Unclutter your thinking to consider new ideas and solutions.
  • Realistically manage your day-to-day activities in the face of the unknown.

The Housing Conference, presented by NMA and HAI Group, will spotlight three tracks: an executive track, a regulatory track, and a best practices track. Go here to view a list of the session descriptions that have been published so far.

Q&A: Flat rent annual review

Q&A: Flat rent annual reviewQUESTION    I’m confused about all of the flat rent changes over the past couple of years. I see that HUD has published FMRs for 2017 and I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with them. Help, please!

ANSWER    You’re correct that HUD published the fair market rents (FMRs) for federal fiscal year (FFY) 2017 on August 26. The FMR data set includes a table of unadjusted rents. Small area fair market rents (SAFMRs) were posted on August 30. Your agency will need one or more of these data sets in order to comply with HUD’s current requirements for reviewing flat rents on an annual basis. The flat rent annual review must be completed within 90 days after the issuance of new FMRs.

The current requirements for determining public housing flat rents were published in the streamlining final rule (published March 8 in the Federal Register) and in Notice PIH 2015-13 (published September 8, 2015). The corresponding regulations are at 24 Code of Federal Regulations 960.253. PHAs are now required to set flat rents at no less than the lower of:

  • 80 percent of the applicable FMR
  • 80 percent of the SAFMR (published for metropolitan areas)
  • 80 percent of unadjusted rents (published for nonmetropolitan areas)

Alternatively, PHAs may apply for an exception waiver through HUD to allow a lower flat rent. For areas in which HUD has not published a SAFMR or unadjusted rent, flat rents must be set at no less than 80 percent of the applicable FMR.

Since FMRs are published annually, PHAs must now review flat rents each year to ensure compliance with the current rule. The following is an excerpt from Notice PIH 2015-13 which describes the requirements for the flat rent annual review:

In order to comply with the flat rent requirements annually, no later than 90 days after issuance of new FMRs or SAFMRs by HUD, the PHA must:

1. Compare the current flat rent amount to the applicable FMR and SAFMR/unadjusted rent:

a) If the flat rent is at least 80 percent of the lower of the FMR or SAFMR/unadjusted rent, the PHA is in compliance with the law, and no further steps are necessary;

b) If the flat rent is less than 80 percent of the lower of the FMR and SAFMR, the PHA must set flat rents at no less than 80 percent of the lower of the FMR or SAFMR/unadjusted rent, subject to the utilities adjustment in this notice, or the PHA may request an exception flat rent pursuant to the requirements of Section 4 of this notice;

2. Update the flat rent policies in the admissions and continued occupancy policies (ACOP) as necessary;

3. At all new admissions, permit the family to choose between the flat rent amount and the income-based rent; and

4. For families that are current public housing residents, offer the updated flat rent amount at the next annual rent option, and permit the family to choose between the flat rent amount and the income-based rent

Flat rent increases must be capped at 35 percent per year. PHAs are no longer permitted to phase in increases of 35 percent or less.

Are you a PIH Alert subscriber? Every Friday, the PIH Alert includes one frequently asked question (FAQ) submitted by our readers. To submit your question, email Annie Stevenson at annie@nanmckay.com with the subject line “FAQ Friday.”

If you’re attending The Housing Conference this month in San Antonio, you can also ask Annie your question in person! Don’t miss her sessions on the fair housing final rule and new and upcoming affordable housing legislationRegister online or email sales@nanmckay.com for more information.

SAHA CEO to speak at The Housing Conference

SAHA CEOWelcome from David Nisivoccia, Interim President and CEO, San Antonio Housing Authority

As interim president and CEO of the San Antonio Housing Authority, David Nisivoccia is responsible for the oversight and operation of the largest public housing authority in Texas and one of the largest PHAs in the nation. He will address conference attendees Monday, September 19.

Nisivoccia is successfully leading a number of SAHA’s community investments in planning and implementation phases, including Victoria Commons, a multi-phase, mixed-income community near San Antonio’s downtown, and the Wheatley Choice Neighborhood Initiative, in collaboration with the Eastside Promise Neighborhood, to revitalize the 248-unit Wheatley Courts public housing property and surrounding area. He currently oversees a workforce of more than 525 SAHA employees, an annual budget of $186 million, and assets valued at $500 million.

Originally hired as SAHA’s chief operating officer, Nisivoccia has more than 20 years of executive and senior management experience in affordable housing. Prior to joining SAHA, he served in positions with the housing authorities of Fairfax County, Virginia; Clearwater, Florida; Tampa, Florida; and Fort Pierce, Florida, where he served as executive director and supervised the economic turnaround of the agency by expanding the agency’s affordable housing portfolio and realigning the capital program strategy to improve efficiency.

The Housing Conference, presented by NMA and HAI Group, will spotlight three tracks: an executive track, a regulatory track, and a best practices track. Go here to view a list of the session descriptions that have been published so far.