Principles of Quality Control

NMA senior trainer and consultant Cydney Jones, presenting a session at last year's NMA Housing Conference

NMA senior trainer and consultant Cydney Jones, presenting a session at last year’s NMA Housing Conference

With an exceptional knowledge of HUD regulations and longstanding expertise in providing a wide range of technical assistance, management training, and on-site expertise, NMA senior trainer and consultant Cydney Jones recently headed operations for NMA’s contract with one of the largest public housing authorities in the country. Cydney will be presenting the following session at the 2014 NMA and GoSection8 Housing Conference.

Regulatory Knowledge for Smart Management

Principles of Quality Control
Presenter, Cydney Jones

With more and more emphasis on conserving federal dollars, in this session we will discuss various ways that a good system of consistent quality control can assist a PHA in maintaining high performance and managing its HAP budget effectively. Quality control is more than just determining rent and HAP correctly. In this session, we will discuss innovative ways to identify and detect fraud and inconsistencies, maintain accurate electronic reporting to HUD, and measure PHA staff, system, and policy performance.

Cydney and other industry experts are available for limited free one-hour consulting sessions at the 2014 NMA and GoSection8 Housing Conference to registered participants. Don’t delay, consulting signups are first-come, first-served! Register online or email sales@nanmckay.com for more information.

How will the new flat rent regulations impact PHAs? Part I

As part of the 2014 appropriations act, Congress authorized several rule changes for both the public housing and housing choice voucher (HCV) programs intended to reduce program costs and administrative burdens for housing authorities. Perhaps the most widely discussed of these changes was the new requirement for PHAs to adjust public housing flat rents to no less than 80 percent of the local fair market rent (FMR) by October 31.

While the rule is expected to increase rent revenues and reduce the need for operating subsidies, industry groups and PHAs have also expressed concern about the impact of the new flat rent requirement, fearing that it could result in many families moving out of public housing rather than pay increased flat rents, thereby increasing vacancy rates and concentration of poverty. Concerned parties also fear that the rule may create an undue burden for low-income families.

In this blog series, we’ll take a look at the background of flat rents, HUD actions to date, and actions required of the PHA. We’ll also examine industry concerns surrounding the new rule.

  • Part I: Some background on the history of flat rents

Some background on the history of flat rents

Regulations governing the public housing program have included various forms of rent caps since 1949. The purpose of capping rents is to promote a mix of incomes in public housing developments and support further deconcentration of poverty. By limiting rent increases, rent caps encourage families who successfully increase their incomes to remain in the development for some period of time.

The current flat rent rule went into effect in 1999 as part of the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act of 1998 (QHWRA). Unlike flat rents’ immediate predecessors, ceiling rents, flat rents were to be based upon the market value of public housing units. Market value was defined by HUD as the rent charged for comparable unassisted units in the private market.

The current rule requires PHAs to establish flat rents using a “reasonable method.” In determining flat rents, PHAs are instructed to consider the nine factors used to establish rent reasonableness in the HCV program, including location, overall quality, unit size and type, age of the unit, and PHA-paid utilities. Once established, the flat rent amounts are to be reviewed annually to ensure that they reflect current rental market conditions.

HUD has published two research articles on flat rents. The first, Use of Flat Rents in the Public Housing Program, was released in 2008 and based on data through 2005. A larger study, Study of Flat Rents and Rent Flexibility, was published in 2010 and included data through 2008. The articles revealed similar findings:

  • About 15 percent of public housing residents pay flat rent (2010 study)
  • 69 percent of flat rents are set at less than one-half of the applicable FMR (2010 study)
  • Flat rents are set well below comparable market values (2008 article)
  • Only 40 percent of PHAs review flat rents annually (2010 study)

Here’s an excerpt from the 2010 study, summarizing flat rent findings:

When setting flat rents, most PHAs do little to ensure that those rents reflect the actual value of the public housing units they own. The most common practice is to set different rents for different-sized units with some reference to local rent levels per FMRs and payment standards but not to differentiate among locations or other attributes of public housing units. About two-thirds of flat rents are at or below half of the local FMR, a low level even considering the location and stigma of public housing.

In Part II, we’ll discuss what HUD’s done so far to implement the new flat rent regulations.

With over 25 years of experience in welfare and public housing, Annie Stevenson shares her expertise in many ways at NMA, serving as a trainer to thousands of housing authority staff every year; as a technical researcher who analyzes and deciphers new HUD regulations; and as a technical writer, contributing to NMA Master Books, seminars, and model policies as well as writing the popular daily PIH Alert. Say hi to Annie at the 2014 NMA and GoSection8 Housing Conference, where she’ll be presenting a hands-on session on administrative plan policies.

Does your agency have a proven methodology for setting flat rents? GoSection8.com can help. Specializing in rent reasonableness, Go8 has served tenants, landlords, and public housing agencies across the United States since 2004. To learn more about how you can bring Go8 to your agency, email sales@nanmckay.com.

HUD publishes new RAD notice, updates FAQs

Late yesterday the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) posted new guidance for the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) in Notice PIH 2014-17. The new notice, which fills 31 pages, provides guidance on resident relocation requirements and procedures, including:

  • Recommended elements of a relocation plan
  • Suggested sequencing of relocation planning activities
  • Residents’ right to return to the project after conversion
  • Required relocation assistance and resident notification
  • Fair housing and civil right requirements
  • Public housing program compliance
  • Evictions for cause

In an email, HUD announced that it will be hosting a question-and-answer (Q&A) session in the coming weeks on Notice PIH 2014-17. The Q&A has not yet been scheduled; we’ll let you know when more details are available.

HUD also posted two new frequently asked questions (FAQs) about RAD. The new questions cover the following topics:

You can access the RAD FAQs in two different ways from the RAD home page. One way will take you directly to the full collection of FAQs, categorized by topic. The other will take you to the RAD Resource Desk, where you’ll find a searchable database of the FAQs.

Friday news roundup 7/18/14

Affordable Housing Finance: Report highlights benefits of affordable housing on education, health, and neighborhood

New York Times (via Planetizen): In Connecticut, breaking a barrier between a suburb and public housing

Next City: What’s best for the Pruitt-Igoe site?

NHC: The majority of households receiving assistance are either families with children, seniors, or households with a disabled person

NLIHC: Investment in permanent supportive housing reduces chronic homelessness

Off the Charts: Helping renters afford their homes

Rooflines: Julián Castro must uphold fair housing

How to Avoid Noncompliance: Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and Using the 8823 Guide in LIHTC Developments

NMA trainers Samantha Pratter and Sheryl Putnam at last year’s NMA Housing Conference

NMA trainers Samantha Pratter and Sheryl Putnam at last year’s NMA Housing Conference

Trainer and consultant Samantha Pratter has been a part of the NMA team since 2008. As NMA’s writing supervisor, Samantha oversees publications from concept and creation through the ongoing revision process, including NMA Master Books, model policies, course books, and handbooks. She recently wrote for the NMA blog about the key differences between the project-based voucher (PBV) program and the (HCV) housing choice voucher program.

As NMA’s professional development manager, Sheryl Putnam spearheaded the development of our new Blended Occupancy Management and Fundamentals of Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Management certification seminars. Prior to joining Nan McKay and Associates in 2011, she managed the compliance department for a state housing finance agency, providing compliance oversight activities for the LIHTC, PBRA, and HOME programs. Sheryl will be presenting several sessions at the 2014 NMA and GoSection8 Housing Conference, including this one and How to Avoid Noncompliance: Blended Occupancy.

Ensuring Compliance and Maximizing Financial Resources

How to Avoid Noncompliance: Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and Using the 8823 Guide in LIHTC Developments
Presenters, Sheryl Putnam and Samantha Pratter

As a tax credit owner, avoiding noncompliance in the LIHTC program is a top priority. The Guide to Completing Form 8823, which is a compilation of references with explanations for applying the rules, can provide valuable information on how noncompliance in the program is identified and categorized. The session will include an overview of the Form 8823 and the accompanying guide, as well as a discussion of topics addressed in the 8823 Guide such as changes in household composition, moves, and utility allowances.

Sheryl, Samantha, and other industry experts will be available for limited free one-hour consulting sessions at the 2014 NMA and GoSection8 Housing Conference. Registered participants can sign up on a first-come, first-served basis, so don’t delay! Register online or email sales@nanmckay.com for more information.

Sign up now for free consulting at the 2014 NMA Housing Conference!

NMA’s industry experts will be offering free one-on-one consulting sessions at the second annual NMA and GoSection8 Housing Conference in Chicago August 18–19.

If you’re registered for the conference and want to sign up for a consulting session, click here and reserve your time now.

The consulting sessions are limited to registered attendees and will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. In fact, some are already getting full. So act quickly!

2014 NMA and GoSection8 Housing Conference

August 18–19 at the Marriott Chicago Downtown

540 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois

Visit our website to register!

Register online or email sales@nanmckay.com for more information. Don’t delay, hotel room block ends July 25!

Exploring the New Frontier of HQS Inspections Deregulation

Michael Petragallo, project manager of NMA Inspections, presenting a session at last year's NMA Housing Conference

Michael Petragallo, project manager of NMA Inspections, presenting a session at last year’s NMA Housing Conference

As project manager of NMA Inspections, Michael Petragallo leverages over 20 years of experience providing HQS inspection services and more than 1.5 million successfully completed HQS, UPCS, and rehabilitation inspections. He recently wrote for the NMA blog about the deregulation of HQS inspections and what that means for the affordable housing industry. Michael will be presenting the following session at the 2014 NMA and GoSection8 Housing Conference.

Executive Leadership for Performance Excellence

Exploring the New Frontier of HQS Inspections Deregulation
Presenter, Michael Petragallo

The foundation of the housing choice voucher program is a commitment to safe, secure, and sanitary housing. As PHAs, how do we balance the deregulation of HQS inspections with what’s right for the family? In this session, NMA’s inspections experts will discuss the implementation and effect of deregulation on our industry, what we’ve learned from Moving to Work (MTW) agencies, and how your agency can take advantage of opportunities like biennial inspections and self-certification in a thoughtful and responsible way.

Register online or email sales@nanmckay.com for more information. Could your agency use help with inspections? Our team of NMAI professionals have an average background of 12 years’ experience conducting inspections, are highly qualified and certified in HQS and/or UPCS, and have completed required sensitivity and sexual harassment training as well as extensive criminal background checks before beginning work. For more information about NMA Inspections, please visit our website or contact us directly at sales@nanmckay.com.

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