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Annie Stevenson

With more than 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. Annie is also the editor of NMA's daily PIH Alert.

Recent Posts

HUD approves disaster recovery plans for Florida, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Texas

Posted by Annie Stevenson on Mar 13, 2019 2:21:09 PM

Last week the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that it has approved the latest disaster recovery action plans for Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Both plans include tight fiscal controls.

In the first press release, HUD announced approval of the latest disaster action recovery plan to help Florida continue to rebuild from Hurricane Irma. The plan will invest an additional $158 million through the Community Development Block Grant–Disaster Recovery (CDBG–DR) program to address lingering unmet needs in impacted Florida counties, including seriously damaged housing, businesses and infrastructure.

The second press release announces that HUD has also approved an amended disaster action recovery plan for the U.S. Virgin Islands. An additional $779 million in CDBG-DR funds will be invested for continued recovery efforts following Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Each press release includes the following statement:

HUD requires that these recovery dollars be targeted to local communities that experienced the greatest impact and that all disaster relief funds will be spent in a manner that helps disaster victims. As a result, HUD will impose strict conditions and financial controls on the use of these funds.

HUD also recently announced that is has approved Puerto Rico’s latest disaster recovery action plan to help the island continue to rebuild from Hurricanes Maria and Irma, as well as an additional $652 million to support Texas’ recovery from Hurricane Harvey. HUD supports recovery from disasters such as Hurricane Harvey through its CDBG–DR program, which requires grantees to develop recovery plans with thought and input from local residents. Texas’ latest recovery plan adds to the $5 billion in HUD-funded recovery programs for the state that HUD approved last June and focuses mainly on restoring damaged and destroyed homes, businesses, and infrastructure.

Learn more about preparing for a disaster

Topics: CDBG-DR, Industry News, disaster recovery

HUD announces disaster recovery waivers

Posted by Annie Stevenson on Jan 10, 2019 9:31:46 AM

Today in the Federal Register, HUD published a notice waiving timing requirements for disaster recovery action plans and action plan amendments. The waivers for grants under the Community Development Block Grant–Disaster Recovery (CDBG–DR) program are necessary due to the government shutdown “and the resultant inability to satisfactorily complete the review and approval process consistent with (HUD’s) customary timeline.”

As explained in the notice, CDBG-DR grantees are required to submit action plans to HUD describing the intended use of recovery funds. HUD approval is also required for significant amendments to the action plans. HUD is waiving the required 45- to 60-day time limits for review and approval of the plans.

HUD will review the pending Action Plan Amendments and Action Plans and provide affected grantees with a decision within a time period which will be announced by HUD after enactment of funding for the Department’s normal operations.
Failure to extend the review period could lead to deemed approvals upon expiration of the customary 60-day review period, an outcome that would be inconsistent with both HUD’s oversight responsibilities and the purposes of the CDBG–DR funding or, alternatively, disapproval. Grantees with pending submissions are advised that the extension of HUD’s review period and resulting delays should not be considered a commentary on the submissions but is a recognition of the current circumstances.

Learn more about preparing for a disaster

Topics: government shutdown, CDBG-DR, disaster recovery

HUD publishes MTW expansion notice

Posted by Annie Stevenson on Oct 11, 2018 11:25:00 AM

On Friday in the Federal Register, HUD published an operations notice for the expansion of the Moving to Work (MTW) program. The 2016 MTW Expansion Statute allows HUD to increase the size of the program from 39 agencies to 139 agencies over a seven-year period. MTW agencies are given flexibility to develop alternative housing program policies aimed at reducing program costs, increasing self-sufficiency of assisted families, and increasing housing choice.

HUD published the first operations notice and request for comments on January 23, 2017. Today’s notice incorporates changes suggested in public comments and seeks further comments, which must be submitted no later than November 19, 2018.

The operations notice details the implementation and continued operations of MTW agencies selected through the expansion. It does not include application instructions, which will be issued in future PIH notices. The 16-page document covers the following 11 topics:

  • Purpose and applicability of the program
  • Waivers, including agency-specific and cohort-specific waivers
  • The term of participation
  • MTW funding flexibilities and financial reporting
  • Program-wide and cohort-specific evaluation
  • Program administration and oversight
  • The Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program
  • Applying MTW flexibilities to special purpose vouchers
  • The applicability of other federal, state, and local requirements
  • MTW agencies admitted prior to the 2016 MTW expansion statute
  • Sanctions, terminations, and default

The notice provides the following information about the 100 agencies which will be selected for the MTW expansion:

  • No less than 50 PHAs shall administer 1,000 or fewer aggregate housing voucher and public housing units
  • No less than 47 PHAs shall administer 1,001–6,000 aggregate housing voucher and public housing units
  • No more than 3 PHAs shall administer 6,001–27,000 aggregate housing voucher and public housing units
  • No PHA shall be granted MTW designation if it administers more than 27,000 aggregate housing voucher and public housing units; and
  • Five of the PHAs selected shall be agencies with a Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) portfolio awardLearn more about MTW

Topics: MTW

FAQ Friday: Flat rent annual review

Posted by Annie Stevenson on Sep 7, 2018 11:22:45 AM


I’m confused about all of the flat rent changes over the past few years. Fair market rents for 2019 were just posted and I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with them. Help, please!


You’re correct that HUD published the fair market rents (FMRs) for federal fiscal year (FFY) 2019 on August 31. The FMR data set includes tables of unadjusted rents and small area fair market rents (SAFMRs). 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 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, 2016 in the Federal Register) and in Notice PIH 2017-23 (published November 30, 2017). 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 fair market rent (FMR)
  • 80 percent of the small area fair market rent (SAFMR) 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. HUD has recently published a flat rent exception request training and a flat rent market analysis tool to assist PHAs with the exception process.

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 2017-23 which describes the requirements for the annual review:

In order to comply with the flat rent requirements annually, no later than 90 days after the effective date of new FMRs or SAFMRs published by HUD, the PHA must:
1. Compare the current flat rent amount to the applicable FMR and SAFMR/unadjusted rent. If the PHA is in compliance with the law, no further steps are necessary:
a) If the flat rent is at least equal to the lower of:
a. 80 percent of the FMR, or
b. 80 percent of the SAFMR (or if no SAFMR is available, 80 percent of unadjusted rent).
b) If the current flat rent is less than the lower of option a or option b above, the PHA must set flat rents at no less than the lower of the 80 percent FMR or 80 percent SAFMR/80 percent unadjusted rent, subject to the utilities adjustment in Section 6 of this Notice, or the PHA may request an exception flat rent pursuant to the requirements of Section 5 of this Notice;
2. Update the flat rent policies in the Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policies (ACOP) as necessary;
3. Permit the family to choose between the flat rent amount and the income-based rent for all new admissions; and
4. Offer the updated flat rent amount at the next annual rent option for families that are current public housing residents, and permit the family to choose between the flat rent amount and the income-based rent, subject to the phase-in requirements in Section 8 of this Notice.

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.

Learn more about how to  correctly calculate rent

Topics: flat rent, FMR

HUD publishes 2019 FMRs

Posted by Annie Stevenson on Sep 5, 2018 3:35:33 PM

In a notice published Friday in the Federal Register, HUD announced that it has published fair market rents (FMRs) for federal fiscal year (FFY) 2019 (October 1, 2018 through September 30, 2019). As explained in the notice:

Section 8(c)(1) of the United States Housing Act of 1937 (USHA), as amended by the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016 (HOTMA), requires the Secretary to publish FMRs not less than annually, adjusted to be effective on October 1 of each year. This notice describes the methods used to calculate the FY 2019 FMRs and enumerates the procedures for public housing agencies (PHAs) and other interested parties to request reevaluations of their FMRs, as required by HOTMA.

The deadline date for comments on the 2019 FMRs is October 1, 2018. The revised FMRs will be effective on October 1, 2018 (unless HUD receives a request for reevaluation of specific area FMRs).

Materials posted today on PD&R’s FMR page include the FFY 2019 FMRs for all areas (see Schedule B) and the FFY 2019 small area FMRs (SAFMRs) for metropolitan FMR areas (see Schedule B addendum).

HUD has also posted a schedule of unadjusted rents, which are used for setting public housing flat rents in non-metropolitan areas. The accompanying county-level data set was also posted to the FMR page. HUD no longer publishes exception FMRs for manufactured home spaces in the HCV program since PHAs now use their regular FMRs/SAFMRs for subsidy determinations.

Learn more about how to  correctly calculate rent

Topics: flat rent, FMR, HOTMA, SAFMR

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