Friday news roundup 4/27/12

Affordable Housing Finance: Top 50 affordable housing developers

Education Week: Study links zoning to education disparities

NHC: Public housing continues to play leading role in green construction

Leave your links and recommendations in the comments.

How to maintain a successful FSS program: Tip #5

Patti Zatarian-MenardTip #5: Check that the information you’re transmitting to PIC is accurate.

For every rent calculation on form HUD-50058 submitted to PIC, there’s an FSS addendum. Its purpose is to transmit information regarding the FSS program, including whether anyone has started or ended the program (completions, drop-outs, terminations) as well as information on services provided and escrow accounts.

It’s extremely important that this information is accurate in the PIC system, so that you’re funded appropriately. Check the report! You can pull it directly off the Internet from the PIC system.

If you discover that the information in your PIC report doesn’t match what you have in your hard copy files or FSS administration files, work with the PIC contact at your housing authority to fix it. They’ll need to know what the errors are, and you’ll need to provide them with hard copy data, which HUD requires before making any changes. They can then contact the PIC coach in the field office and work with them until the information is corrected.

Remember, HUD goes by what’s in the electronic PIC data. If their data says you don’t meet the criteria for an FSS coordinator grant, it doesn’t matter what your hard copy files say — you don’t qualify for the grant.

Additionally, if your data is clearly incorrect (for example, says you have 2,000 people enrolled when you’re a small PHA), HUD has been known to deny grants on those grounds as well.

To sum up, the five tips I’ve discussed are:

Each of these tips contributes to running a better FSS program in its own right, but you may notice that each ties into one another. A strong understanding of the program goal is crucial for a consistent service delivery design and an effective PCC. Apply these tips together in order to achieve great results.

In her capacity with the San Diego Housing Commission, NMA Senior Associate Trainer Patti Zatarain-Menard designed, developed, and implemented one of the nation’s largest and most successful family self-sufficiency programs. For the past two decades, she has worked with Nan McKay and Associates conducting training seminars nationally and undertaking consulting assignments on federally subsidized housing.

If you find that you need assistance in maintaining a successful FSS program or setting up your FSS action plan, NMA can help.  Email sales@nanmckay.com for more information.

Friday news roundup 4/20/12

Affordable Housing Finance: Industry leaders react to Romney’s “eliminate HUD” rhetoric

NCSHA: Senate Appropriations Subcommittee rejects short funding of Section 8 by Ranking Member Collins as an “ill-conceived budget gimmick,” shows strong support for CDBG, VASH, and homelessness prevention

NHC: The importance of local housing policy

NLIHC: Many communities across the U.S. reporting rents out of reach

NY Times (via Affordable Housing Report): Subsidized housing developments provide space for community gardens

Off the Charts: In recognition of Tax Day, ten charts related to federal taxes

Slate.com: More than 300 municipalities are now planning for “complete streets” that facilitate multiple modes of transportation

Leave your links and recommendations in the comments.

How is your agency honoring Fair Housing Month?

Becky GligoApril is Fair Housing Month, and that’s always a useful occasion to review our fair housing efforts and ask ourselves what we can be doing better.

One of the key areas of fair housing compliance for PHAs is to affirmatively further fair housing. In order to meet this expectation, housing authorities should be looking at ways to take their efforts to the next level.

Here are some ideas to maximize your existing fair housing efforts:

Action #1: Self-assess.

FHEO and legal aid visits can be stressful occurrences for housing authorities. Conducting self-assessments to identify fair housing vulnerabilities can help your PHA to address areas of weakness and feel confident about those interactions.

Check FHEO’s website for notices, checklists, and other tools to conduct self-assessments.

Action #2: Work with community groups.

One of the most encouraging things about fair housing requirements is that housing authorities aren’t trying to meet them alone. Every community has numerous nonprofit organizations working in the fields of domestic violence, disability assistance, language assistance, and general outreach.

With their expertise, funding, and desire to reach out to low-income families, these nonprofits can be valuable partners for your PHA. Work to create partnerships, furthering the mission to eliminate barriers to fair housing in your community.

Action #3: Educate staff.

Fair housing requirements can be numerous and difficult to navigate. Staff training is key to successful compliance efforts.

There are great online references like lep.gov, with webinar footage, pamphlets, and links to other resources. Local fair housing groups, legal aid, and even HUD field offices are often eager to work with PHAs to train staff. NMA has several fair housing classes available, as well as a new Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing seminar that covers the topics listed above and more.

No matter how you choose to mark Fair Housing Month, the efforts made by your PHA to reduce and even eliminate barriers to fair housing in the community will help to create more equal housing opportunities nationwide.

Becky Gligo has been a trainer and consultant at Nan McKay and Associates since 2008. She trains hundreds of housing authority staff each year, both in open enrollment and onsite trainings. Ms. Gligo specializes in HCV regulations and operations, and is one of NMA’s primary fair housing experts.

NMA also offers fair housing consulting and products to assist your agency with HUD compliance.

Mark your calendar and register now for the new NMA phone series!

Carrol Vaughan

I’m excited to announce that this month, NMA is launching a new phone series designed to connect you with the expert advice you can use when making the decisions that guide your agency.

It’s a great opportunity to pick the brains of some of our industry’s most insightful thought leaders — without having to leave your office!

Our first guest will be Greg Klaas of Signet Partners, discussing the topic of the moment, HUD’s call for RAD applications. I’ll join him to address frequently asked questions and concerns, and the conference-call forum will provide you with an opportunity to ask any and all questions you may have in regards to this hotly anticipated pilot program.

There’s no cost to participate, but you’ll need to register in advance by emailing us at marketing@nanmckay.com. Space is limited, so don’t put this off till the last minute! I hope you’ll be able to join us.

RAD: What you need to know

Wednesday, April 25th

9AM Pacific Time

Email marketing@nanmckay.com to register

With over 30 years of experience in the affordable housing industry, VP of Professional Services Carrol Vaughan ensures that NMA continues to help PHAs better serve their communities.

Together with Greg Klaas of Signet Partners, she’ll be hosting the debut of the new NMA phone series, “Ask the Experts.”  The premiere episode will focus on the RAD program and is scheduled for Wednesday, April 25, 9AM Pacific Time. To register, email marketing@nanmckay.com.

To learn more about how NMA can help with RAD applications, visit our website.

How to maintain a successful FSS program: Tip #4

Patti Zatarian-MenardTip #4: At least once a year, check that the regulations and policies are being implemented exactly.

Reread your PHA’s policies and applicable FSS regulations at least once a year, highlighting anything that’s surprising to you, that you don’t know or don’t understand, or that your agency isn’t doing. From what you’ve highlighted, make a “to do” list of any needed changes.

This might include correcting regulations you’re not implementing, deciding whether certain policies need revision, or modifying activities in order to agree with policy. Address the issues in a meeting with your supervisor and ask for direction.

If you find in general that the regulations and policy are unclear to you and you’re struggling in your housing authority to understand them, you and your agency might benefit from additional training or consulting to help make things clear.

Next: How to maintain a successful FSS program: Tip #5

In her capacity with the San Diego Housing Commission, NMA Senior Associate Trainer Patti Zatarain-Menard designed, developed, and implemented one of the nation’s largest and most successful family self-sufficiency programs. For the past two decades, she has worked with Nan McKay and Associates conducting training seminars nationally and undertaking consulting assignments on federally subsidized housing.

Friday news roundup 4/13/12

CLPHA: New proposed rule on portability

Huffington Post: Housing as a pathway to better health

NHC: Have demolitions and new housing strategies improved neighborhood conditions?

Leave your links and recommendations in the comments.

How to maintain a successful FSS program: Tip #3

Patti Zatarian-MenardTip #3: Have a service delivery design in place.

To create a service delivery design, you need to write one or two brief, clear, descriptive paragraphs about each of the activities in your program. Common activities in a service delivery design include:

Outreach. State how outreach will be conducted and provide information on the specifics. For example, “We are going to complete our outreach with posters, flyers, a speakers’ bureau, and a script that our rent specialists use to talk to our clients each time they do a recertification.”

Describe in detail the information that will be included on the posters, flyers, and script, as well as what the speakers’ bureau will discuss, where the posters and flyers will be placed and distributed, and how often the script will be used and speaking engagements will be scheduled. State where in the files the relevant materials can be found.

Orientation. Describe how often orientations are held, where they’re held, how long they last, the agenda, whether there are any handouts, and whether you’ll give out FSS applications. If your orientation will include a PowerPoint presentation, or if you have a script, include this in your description. Also, be sure to reference where all orientation materials can be found.

Needs assessment. If you choose to do informal and formal assessments at your housing authority, simply describe what they consist of. For example, “Our participants come in individually and meet with the FSS coordinator for approximately an hour to go through their current situation, their past history, and to discuss what they would like to gain from the FSS program.”

Describe where you’ll put data from the assessment (on a intake form or assessment form) and where it will be kept. If you’re doing formal assessments in partnership with a community college, workforce career center, or another expert group in your community, describe how that’s done. Are you busing people to the career center? Are you meeting them there? Are they going on their own? How long does it take? What’s completed, and what documentation comes back?

Contracting. If you choose to do contracting, your description should be similar to that of the needs assessment. Include information on whether families come in individually or in groups, what you discuss with regard to the contracting, what’s done, and how long it takes.

Case management / service coordination. How often you meet with people, whether they call in or you meet them in the community, how long the meeting takes, what’s covered, what you document at those meetings, and where the files can be found. Some agencies also do workshops or have partners come in and offer GED classes — any activity done in close collaboration with the housing authority should be described here.

Completion. Do you have a graduation? Is there a one-on-one ceremony? Do you present families with the escrow check in a meeting before the commissioners? If the family is terminating (either because of them or you), what steps does your PHA follow?

The NMA Model Family Self-Sufficiency Action Plan includes some additional ideas for services that can be part of your service delivery design. Keep in mind that some descriptions of services are required by regulation, but a good service delivery design consists of more than what’s required in the plan and should be treated as a stand-alone document.

Next: How to maintain a successful FSS program: Tip #4

In her capacity with the San Diego Housing Commission, NMA Senior Associate Trainer Patti Zatarain-Menard designed, developed, and implemented one of the nation’s largest and most successful family self-sufficiency programs. For the past two decades, she has worked with Nan McKay and Associates conducting training seminars nationally and undertaking consulting assignments on federally subsidized housing.

Friday news roundup 4/6/12

Affordable Housing Finance: The market for LIHTCs has recovered

Finance & Commerce (via Affordable Housing Report): LIHTC could end up on the chopping block

HUD: Fair Housing Month and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

KUHF Public Radio (via Affordable Housing Report): Housing authorities ask HUD to simplify the process of operating HCV programs

NCSHA: HUD issues notice clarifying RAD components, extending comment period

Leave your links and recommendations in the comments.

A practitioner’s perspective on the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program

Carrol VaughanIn the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, housing authorities are invited to apply on a competitive basis to convert portfolio properties into Section 8 contracts.

A primary provision of RAD is to provide PHAs with access to debt financing in order to address a particular property’s immediate and long-term capital needs through rehabilitation. To qualify, housing authorities must not only make timely application during an upcoming short window, but also nominate properties that meet both HUD and lender underwriting criteria.

Due to the anticipated level of interest in RAD, it’s critical that applications be meticulously prepared. Omissions and lack of supporting documentation will result in disqualification during the initial review period. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Participation is limited (the number of units that can be converted to Section 8 through RAD is capped).
  • RAD is a pilot program. It is, by definition, experimental, and won’t be suitable for all public housing properties, specifically those with unusual conditions, issues, or problems. Use careful advance consideration when determining which properties are  best suited to participate.
  • While the notice encourages applications from a diverse group of applicants, pilot programs tend to be most effective with “low-hanging fruit” — that is, properties with modest repair/rehab needs and no operational issues.
  • With limited exceptions, a PHA must be classified as Standard or High Performer in order to be eligible.
  • Acceptance into the program isn’t a guarantee of success. A property may be accepted only to later discover that it can’t support any debt, or can’t support enough debt to undertake a meaningful level of rehabilitation.
  • Historically, lenders have had a difficult time determining how to underwrite the income stream of public housing projects. When deciding whether to convert  PBVs or PBRA, consider whether your lender is more comfortable with underwriting one form of assistance or another. It may impact your agency’s ability to obtain a loan.
  • Any existing debt (other than Section 4 debt) must be paid off, or the lender will have to agree to subordinate to the new debt and use agreement. Properties with significant existing debt are not likely to be good candidates for the pilot program.
  • One of the most likely sources of financing would be through a new FHA-insured first mortgage. While loans pursuant to both 223(f) and 221(d)(4) are contemplated by the Notice, the process for obtaining approval of a d(4) can be much more involved, and would require a much higher level of debt service. Projects which are in need of repairs that rise to the level of “substantial rehabilitation” may not be good candidates for RAD.
  • The RAD program is funded at zero dollars. To get involved, you’ll need to prepare, support, and submit an application.

With over 30 years of experience in the affordable housing industry, VP of Professional Services Carrol Vaughan ensures that NMA continues to help PHAs better serve their communities.

Together with Greg Klaas of Signet Partners, she’ll be hosting the debut of the new NMA phone series, “Ask the Experts.”  The premiere episode will focus on the RAD program and is scheduled for Wednesday, April 25, 9AM Pacific Time. To register, email marketing@nanmckay.com.

To learn more about how NMA can help with RAD applications, visit our website.

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