REAC posts high-level overview of UPCS-V

UPCS-V demonstration

The Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) Oversight and Evaluation Division (OED) has posted a PDF slide deck offering a high-level overview of the upcoming Uniform Physical Condition Standards for Vouchers (UPCS-V) demonstration.

The overview discusses the need for a new standard, the transition from housing quality standards (HQS) to UPCS-V, and enhancements and benefits provided by the new standard. It also explains UPCS-V deficiencies, decision trees, and inspection reports, in addition to providing other demonstration-related examples.

To view the deck, click here. For more information on the demonstration, click here. Additional resources and information regarding UPCS-V can be found on the OED webpage.

Got questions about UPCS-V? Don’t miss the The Housing Conference this September in San Antonio, Texas, where NMA’s Michael Petragallo and other industry experts will address hot topics around the proposed new HCV inspection protocol. Register online or email for more information.

Affordable housing news 5/20/16

Bipartisan Policy Center: Can Congress deliver appropriations bills on time?

CBPP: Helping ex-offenders get housing and health care

City Observatory (via Planetizen): Is supply finally coming to rescue the rental market?

CityLab: Which neighborhoods win by building affordable housing?

CSSP: Lessons from the intersection of housing, child welfare, and vulnerable families

Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies: Housing inadequacy remains a problem for the lowest-income renters

The HUDdle: Transforming lives with summer youth job opportunities

Los Angeles Times (via Planetizen): California’s governor wants to make it easier to build affordable housing

NCSHA: Senate passes FY 2017 housing appropriations bill

New York Daily News (via CSSP): Gentrification is eroding the stability provided by housing choice vouchers

Next City: From a high of $4.4 billion in 1995, CDBGs for 2016 are budgeted at $3 billion

NHC: House appropriators release draft FY2017 THUD bill

NLIHC: 75% of extremely low-income renter households pay more than 50% of their income on rent and utilities

NLIHC: House panel advances FY17 THUD spending bill

NLIHC: Senate passes THUD bill, as advocates mobilize to defeat amendment attacking fair housing

Exploring the New Frontier of UPCS-V

UPCS-V demonstration
Michael Petragallo, VP of NMA Inspections, presenting a session on HQS deregulation at NMA’s inaugural housing conference in San Diego

As vice president 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 on the proposed new inspection protocol for the HCV program, UPCS-V, at The Housing Conference.

Executive Leadership for Performance Excellence

Exploring the New Frontier of UPCS-V
Presenter, Michael Petragallo

Housing professionals who manage inspections in the voucher program have certainly been on a bumpy ride the past few years, from the 2014 HQS deregulation and the implementation of biennial inspection options to HUD’s recent proposal of an entirely new inspection protocol, Uniform Physical Condition Standards for Vouchers (UPCS-V). With the UPCS-V demonstration now announced, if not yet officially open, we have more questions than answers. In this session, NMA’s inspections experts will cover them all, including:

  • What is UPCS-V? Get an in-depth review of the new inspection protocol.
  • Scoring vs. pass/fail… what does it mean?
  • How does the proposed protocol affect our inspections deliverables to landlords and HUD?
  • What impact might it have on housing authorities, their inspections teams, and the landlord community?
  • And what about the technical aspects? The operating system is just the tip of the iceberg.

Register online or email 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

Q&A: Where are the HUD letters to EDs?

Q&A: HUD lettersQUESTION    Recently I saw a reference to a “letter to executive directors” from HUD. I am the ED in my agency and I never received this letter. Are they talking about a paper letter? Where can I find letters to EDs on HUD’s website?

ANSWER    In the past couple of years, HUD has issued several important pieces of guidance in the format of letters to executive directors. Some of the notices contain implementation requirements for new rules or policies (for example, a September letter added 30 days to the portability billing deadline for the HCV program). The HUD letters are transmitted via email and usually they are not posted to HUD’s website.

Some recent examples of letters to executive directors include:

  • A September 2015 letter regarding the tenancy of “over-income” families in public housing
  • The previously-mentioned September 2015 letter containing guidance on implementation of the portability final rule in the HCV program
  • A December 2015 letter containing implementation guidance for 2016 fair market rents (FMRs)
  • A letter issued on April 1 concerning HUD’s plan to “re-federalize” fees paid to central office cost centers

So where does HUD get email addresses for PHA executive directors? The addresses are pulled from the HA Profiles module in HUD’s Inventory Management System/Public and Indian Housing Information Center (IMS/PIC). The contact information is entered by PHA staff and must be updated as needed. The HA Profiles page includes links to a “walkthrough” guide for using the module and a set of frequently asked questions.

If your agency is not receiving these important emails from HUD, there could be several reasons:

  • The email address in HA Profiles no longer exists
  • The email address exists but an employee has left and no one is checking his or her email
  • The email inbox is full
  • The emails are being intercepted by a firewall or anti-spam program

We recommend that you first check the information in the HA Profiles module to make sure that the email address under the Contact tab is current. Next verify that the email inbox can receive mail, and finally, check the settings for your anti-spam software.

Are you a PIH Alert subscriber? Every Friday, the PIH Alert includes one frequently asked question (FAQ) submitted by our readers. Sign up today for a free 30-day trial subscription! Email to get started. To submit your question, email Annie Stevenson at with the subject line “FAQ Friday.”

Affordable housing news 5/6/16

CBPP: Drop in veterans’ homelessness highlights vouchers’ effectiveness

CityLab: What does Beyonce’s Lemonade video have to do with affordable housing?

Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies: Why does affordable housing need saving?

The HUDdle: Expanding the blueprint for prosperity

Mobility Lab (via Planetizen): Affordable housing and transit should go hand-in-hand

NLIHC: Senate consideration of THUD spending bill delayed

NLIHC: Federal housing assistance declines despite increase in need

NPR: Most social programs in America work like this: if you qualify for assistance, you get it—but not housing

Rooflines: Does screening for eviction records violate the Fair Housing Act?

Urban Institute: Do people in poverty create bad neighborhoods, or do bad neighborhoods cause people to be poorer?

Model policies for streamlining final rule now available

Samantha Sowards discusses the streamlining final rule

In March, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published its final rule on streamlining administrative regulations in the public housing, HCV, HOME, and multifamily housing programs. The streamlining final rule was followed in April by two PIH notices with further guidance for implementing its requirements.

Because the streamlining final rule includes several new policy options, we announced that we would be issuing a special mid-year revision of our model ACOP and model administrative plan rather than having customers wait for the standard annual revision.

Our technical writers and subject matter experts have now completed their revision of the NMA model administrative plan, and it will be made available electronically to everyone on the waiting list tomorrow. If you aren’t already on the list, and you are a current subscriber who would like to receive these files immediately, please email Anne Kulinski at with your name, your agency’s name, and whether you need the model admin plan, the model ACOP, or both.

Our publishing department is putting the finishing touches on the NMA model ACOP, and we anticipate that it will be ready to email out to our subscribers early next week.

NMA will also be sending out the mid-year revision through the mail on CDs within the next two weeks. The CDs are currently being formatted. All revision service customers will be receiving these CDs. There is no need to inquire about an electronic copy if your agency would simply like to wait for the revision to be mailed to you.

Thank you to all our subscribers. If you have any questions, you can get in touch with the NMA team by emailing or calling us at (800) 783-3100.

Senior trainer Samantha Sowards has been a part of the NMA team since 2008. As NMA’s manager of curriculum development, Samantha oversees publications from concept and creation through the ongoing revision process, including NMA Master Books, model policies, and handbooks.

PIH requests comments on UPCS-V demonstration

UPCS-V demonstration

In a Federal Register notice today, HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) announced that it plans to conduct a demonstration designed to test a new method of assessing the physical condition of housing assisted by HUD vouchers.

The proposed new method, dubbed Uniform Physical Condition Standards for Vouchers (UPCS-V), was first announced in December of last year. As the notice explains:

In the joint explanatory statement accompanying the act appropriating funds for HUD in fiscal year (FY) 2016, Congress directed HUD to implement a single inspection protocol for public housing and voucher units. This demonstration would commence the process for implementing a single inspection protocol by soliciting PHAs to voluntarily move to the single inspection protocol, conduct field testing, and participate in oversight and monitoring activities related to the new standard.

In addition to improving outcomes for families and aligning program standards, this demonstration will provide valuable feedback to HUD about how to efficiently and effectively implement UPCS-V at all PHAs. Congress has provided HUD with funding to improve its oversight of the HCV inspection program and to move the inspection standard for the HCV program to one that is consistent with other affordable housing programs and that incorporates modern health and safety practices.

The UPCS-V demonstration will evaluate three components of the new inspection protocol: its objective condition standards, its information technology (IT) processes, and the new oversight approach.

After HUD’s initial round of testing has been completed, PHAs participating in the objective condition standards component of the demonstration will conduct a portion, depending on the PHA’s capabilities, of up to 100 percent of their required HCV physical inspections using UPCS-V in place of HQS. This component will continue throughout the up to three-year duration of the demonstration until HUD has sufficient information to evaluate the success of PHAs using UPCS-V and assurance that the new method is achieving consistent results.

UPCS-V is designed as an electronic inspection model. The IT component of the demonstration will test the transition from a paper-based to an electronic inspection approach. Initially, the UPCS-V inspections will be performed electronically using HUD-provided software, and all inspections will include photos of the most severe deficiencies.

In the oversight component of the demonstration, HUD seeks to ensure PHAs are consistently identifying substandard housing, remedying such cases appropriately and in a timely manner, and accurately reporting HCV unit-based inspection outcomes to HUD. Selected PHAs will be required to participate in quality assurance and internal controls reviews, technical assistance, and training activities.

Finally, the notice outlines some participation requirements for the demonstration:

  • The PHA must administer a housing choice voucher program
  • PHAs participating in any aspect of the demonstration will be required to participate in focus groups, conference calls, and training sessions
  • The PHA must conduct at least 10 inspections per week, and the geographic spread of those inspections should be such that 90 percent of inspections are accessible within a 30 mile (or 1 hour) driving range
  • If selected, the PHA must participate in the demonstration throughout the duration of the testing period for at least one (1) calendar year with the possibility of an extension, as determined by HUD, for a maximum total of three (3) years
  • PHAs that participate will also need to provide an internet-connected operating system (iOS) or Android-based electronic handheld device (smartphone or tablet) for each PHA staff inspector participating with capability to download the required HUD-provided inspection software

If you wish to submit comments on the proposed demonstration, you will find instructions following the “Addresses” heading in today’s notice. HUD will accept comments on all aspects of the proposed demonstration until July 5, and is particularly interested in answers to the following questions:

  1. HUD is considering selecting for participation only PHAs that do not utilize contract inspectors. Are there any instances where an exception to this criterion might be useful?
  2. Will utilizing commercial, off-the-shelf hardware, such as internet-connected tablets or smartphones, reduce the barriers to participation for PHAs as opposed to having PHAs use more specific devices such as those required for other HUD UPCS inspections?
  3. Are there other PHA characteristics that HUD should consider in selecting PHAs to participate in the demonstration?
  4. Are there other revisions outside of the UPCS criteria that HUD should consider when moving toward a single inspection protocol?

Four more weeks to enter the NMA Housing Awards!

NMA Housing AwardsHave you sent us your application yet for the 2016 NMA Housing Awards? Entries are due Tuesday, May 31, 2016. Entries must be postmarked or emailed by that date.

If you haven’t entered yet, now is your opportunity to share all the amazing work your agency has done for the community. This year, we’re excited to announce the debut of two new award categories: the NMA Development Award and the NMA Resident Service Award. As in previous years, four awards are up for nomination:

  • NMA Development Award (Large Agency)
  • NMA Development Award (Small Agency)
  • NMA Resident Service Award (Large Agency)
  • NMA Resident Service Award (Small Agency)

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. Award winners will be presented with an engraved trophy at The Housing Conference this September in San Antonio, Texas.

You can download the entry form on our website. Go here to read about last year’s winners. If you have any questions, email us at Best of luck, and we look forward to reading your entries!

Legislative Update with Nan McKay

NMA president and founder Nan McKay presenting the legislative update at last year's NMA Housing Conference
NMA president and founder Nan McKay presenting the legislative update at The Housing Conference

While serving as executive director of a Minnesota housing authority, Nan McKay started one of the nation’s first Section 8 programs. She has previously written for the NMA blog on the topic of executive management and high performance as well as stories from her fifty years in the housing industry.

With three decades 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. Nan and Annie will be presenting the following session at The Housing Conference.

Regulatory Knowledge for Smart Management

Legislative Update with Nan McKay
Presenters, Nan McKay with Annie Stevenson

One of the most popular sessions at The Housing Conference is always Nan’s review of recent regulations, guidance, and breaking news. We’re bringing her back this year to fill us in on the most important changes of 2016, including the final rule on streamlining administrative requirements and its accompanying notices, new guidance on the use of criminal records, and a forecast of what she sees ahead for our industry in 2017, including the planned expansion of the Moving to Work (MTW) program and REAC’s plans to replace HQS with a new inspection protocol, UPCS-V.

Nan and Annie will be available for limited free one-hour Q&A sessions at the The Housing Conference this September in San Antonio, Texas. Registered participants can sign up on a first-come, first-served basis now. Register online or email for more information.