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Community development and housing news: June 6, 2019

Posted by NMA on Jun 6, 2019 1:32:12 PM

Community development and housing news for June 6, 2019

House Appropriations Committee approves 2020 HUD funding bill, Congress passes disaster relief package including $900 million for Puerto Rico, HUD announces new PIH inspection protocol, and other stories we're following this week.

Breaking newscongress-2

The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday advanced a $137.1 billion spending bill covering transportation and housing, about $6 billion above current levels.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development would receive most of the increase, bringing its funding to $50.1 billion. The bill would also block a public housing rule on undocumented immigrants from the administration that Democrats say would “threaten the housing tenure of 55,000 children who are citizens or legal residents.” Read more

A long-delayed $19.1 billion disaster aid bill is headed to the president for his expected signature, overcoming months of Congressional infighting.

Lawmakers gave the measure final congressional approval on Monday by 354-58 in the House’s first significant action after returning from a 10-day recess. It was backed by all 222 voting Democrats and 132 Republicans, including the GOP’s top leaders and many of its legislators from areas hit by hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and fires. Read more

Last week HUD requested comments on a planned two-year continuation of the UPCS-V demonstration.

According to the notice, the extension is necessary in order to meet congressional instructions to implement a single inspection protocol for public housing and voucher units. This new physical inspection model will be NSPIRE, intended to improve upon the current UPCS protocol by prioritizing health, safety, and functional defects. Read more

Landlords participating in a new Virgin Islands disaster relief program could receive up to $50,000 per unit to repair their damaged apartments.

One of the most daunting problems facing locals looking for permanent housing is the cost of rent in the U.S. Virgin Islands, which shot up following the 2017 storms when rental units became short in supply and demand increased. To help with the situation, the local government is unveiling in July a new program using CDBG-DR funds to provide up to $50,000 per apartment to landlords to repair damaged rental property. Read more 

FEMA announced that federal emergency aid has been made available to the state of Kansas to supplement state and local response efforts to the emergency conditions in the area affected by flooding beginning on May 9, 2019.

The assistance will be provided to Anderson, Butler, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Coffey, Cowley, Crawford, Elk, Franklin, Greenwood, Harvey, Montgomery, Neosho, Osage, Reno, Sumner, Wilson, and Woodson counties. Read more

In California, PG&E received approval to set up a $105 million wildfire assistance fund.

PG&E Corp may set up a $105 million housing fund for victims of 2017 and 2018 wildfires in California, which were blamed on the utility’s equipment. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali approved a motion by PG&E seeking permission to establish the fund for people who lost homes in the fires and were uninsured or have used up or will exhaust their insurance. Read more

Communities in the Greater Miami area banded together to create a regional resilience strategy.

The plan contains more than 50 actions focused on issues such as the environment, infrastructure and economic prosperity. Some of the measures address mobility, housing options, energy efficiencies, financial stability and advancing public health priorities. Read more


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Topics: appropriations, UPCS-V, CDBG-DR, disaster recovery, climate and disaster resilience, NSPIRE

Waitlist reimagined: Rethink your waitlist management style

Posted by Michael Lazdowsky on Jun 3, 2019 12:04:41 PM

With numerous families applying for vouchers and public housing assistance, having a good waitlist management style is critical. Families feel more comfortable when they know what's going on with their application, and you'll free up your staff for more productive tasks. However, as agencies know, it can be hard trying to keep track of all applications. Read on for some tips from Michael Lazdowsky,'s subject matter expert on ways you can reimagine your waitlist management setup.


Save time and money with effective waitlist management

Why is it important to have effective waitlist management? In short, it will help you save time and money by allowing you to:

  • Send less mail
  • Cut down on response time and no responses from applicants
  • Increase occupancy and utilization
  • Free up staff time
  • Reduce the burden of maintaining a waitlist by decreasing the time spent on updating mailings, sending notifications to applicants, and opening/closing waitlists

The impact of these changes can substantially improve the level of assistance your PHA provides to the local community. But sometimes it feels easier said than done. This doesn’t have to be the case! With a few simple fixes you’ll be on your way to a highly effective waitlist management system.


Create a shared waitlist

In a shared waitlist model, each PHA maintains its own separate waitlist but shares collective functionality. Before we get further into the topic, let’s get a better understanding of how HUD sees these waitlists.

Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (5/24/18)

HUD talks about shared waitlists in section 209:

SHARED WAITING LISTS.—Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development shall make available to interested public housing agencies and owners of multifamily properties receiving assistance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development 1 or more software programs that will facilitate the voluntary use of a shared waiting list by multiple public housing agencies or owners receiving assistance, and shall publish on the website of the Department of Housing and Urban Development procedural guidance for implementing shared waiting lists that includes information on how to obtain the software.

Federal Register Notice, Vol. 84, No.31/February 14 2019, pages 4097-4099

HUD also discusses shared waitlists and their implementation in the February 14, 2019 Federal Register notice.

HUD is exploring options for implementing the required software and will publish required guidance accordingly.

In the notice, HUD provides the following topics for comment:

(i) Because the statute refers to software that supports the use of ‘‘shared waiting lists’’ by PHAs and owners receiving HUD assistance, HUD seeks public input on the definition of a ‘‘shared waiting list.’’ HUD is considering defining ‘‘shared waiting list software’’ as software that enables a household to submit a single application to get on multiple waiting lists.
(ii) What types of PHAs and owners might be the best candidates for a shared waiting list?
(iii) Do owners receiving HUD assistance have unique needs that may make it difficult for them to use a shared waiting list?
(iv) Would there be a need for additional software security in providing access to, and using, a shared waiting list?
(v) (i) HUD also encourages the submission of examples where PHAs or owners have used shared waiting lists and seeks opinions regarding the need for HUD to provide software support for this function and what form this support might take.

These citations demonstrate how impactful shared waitlists continue to be in the affordable housing industry as HUD builds out their policies around the new options.


What is a shared waitlist?

In the shared waitlist model, collective functionalities allow PHAs to update and maintain only one housing application, remove applications from families who have been issued vouchers or deemed ineligible (i.e. non-discretionary denial), and permit applicants to re-apply at one PHA while maintaining their original application date at others.

Beyond the collective functionality in a shared waitlist, PHAs can also sync existing applications or start new ones, add their organization or leave the shared waitlist, and share application history between all PHAs.


Why create a shared waitlist?

Now that we know what a shared waitlist is, it’s important to talk about why PHAs should create one. We touched upon this briefly in the beginning, but let’s go further into the “why” part.

Benefits for PHAs

  1. Reduce duplication efforts among surrounding agencies. By pulling your resources together, PHAs can avoid doing extra work and duplicating an application that already exists.
  2. Save staff time. A shared waitlist will help employees to complete application intakes, updates, and calls more quickly, and reduce the time and resources required to open, close, or update a waitlist.
  3. One application for multiple lists. A shared application allows for quick initial processing, screens out obviously ineligible applicants, defers completion of full applications, eliminates the need to re-verify, and limits delays in issuance.
  4. PHAs can create a centralized application center for their public housing and housing choice voucher programs. This helps keep all applications in an easy-to-access area in case you’re unable to access the files at your office during a natural disaster or other emergency.

Benefits for applicants

  1. Reduced confusion and burden. Your families will appreciate the convenience of one central place to search for open waitlists, find affordable housing opportunities, and access FAQs and detailed information on PHAs and their programs.
  2. Increased pool of applications and accessibility. A shared waitlist makes the application process mobile-friendly, allows for more translations into other languages, and empowers you to reach applicants through SMS, text, and email alerts.
  3. More comprehensive information on housing opportunities in a variety of areas. The more information applicants have, the more they’re able to make the choices that are right for them and their families.


How to start a shared waitlist

Now you’ve heard all the good a shared waitlist can do and are interested in starting one for your PHA, but how do you do that? There are four ways to get a shared waitlist started in your community:

  • Organize a collaboration of PHAs
  • Adopt an administrative plan amendment in which all PHAs have a group shared policy
  • Create a universal pre-application and agree upon preferences and public notice
  • Use the same waitlist software between all PHAs

Note, HUD will be coming out with their own guidance in 2019, so be on the lookout for that.


Shared waitlist examples

If you do start a shared waitlist, know that you aren’t going into it alone. Other housing authorities across the country have also created shared waitlists:

Massachusetts Section 8 Centralized Waiting List. Open since January 1, 2003, this shared waitlist has 101 participating PHAs and is using the new GoSection8 system for HCV and PBV.

Massachusetts (State Public Housing). This shared waitlist includes all state PHAs, and it’s required by state law that PHAs opt in.

Maine Centralized Section 8/HCV Waiting List. Open since April 10, 2013, this waitlist is required by state law and currently has 20 participating PHAs.

Rhode Island (Section 8 and PBV). Currently has 25 participating PHAs (the entire state).


How do I keep the waitlist up to date?

After you’ve put together your shared waitlist, it's key to make sure the list is regularly refreshed. Here are some tips.

Use technology

SMS/text, email alerts, an online application portal, and a live toll-free support line are all great options that help your agency send less mail and reduce response time. Technology can also improve real-time address, phone, and email verification, instantly update all waitlists, and minimize the number of applicants who are removed for no response.

Maintain a healthy waitlist with effective analysis

During your upkeep process, ask yourself these four questions:

  • Are there a sufficient number and variety of applicants to ensure full utilization of the PHA’s rental assistance resources?
  • Do the applicants represent a broad range of social and economic characteristics that are representative of the community?
  • Are those families determined least likely to apply adequately represented?
  • Will the PHA be able to satisfy income targeting requirements with current applicants?


Should I keep the waitlist open?

When it comes to waitlist management, a common question is “Should I keep our waitlist open?” The answer depends on the circumstances of your particular PHA. Consider these questions when making your decision:

  • Are there enough applicants to account for contract turnovers and vouchers that are issued but do not result in a HAP contract?
  • Does my PHA wish to continue to take applications from families that meet certain local preferences?
  • Is there a sufficient number of extremely low-income families on the waiting list to satisfy income targeting requirements?
  • How long is the average wait for the various categories of applicants (preference and non-preference) on the waiting list?

As long as you maintain effective waitlist management, it should be easy for your PHA to keep your waiting list open if you choose to do so.

Note: There are benefits for keeping your waitlist open, including the elimination of unnecessary application processing costs and staff time for other important program activities.


About the author

Headshot of Michael Lazdowsky

Michael Lazdowsky has worked in the public housing industry for over 15 years. Starting in 1999, he managed the state and federal public housing and the multiple Section 8 waiting lists at the Dedham Housing Authority (MA). For the past 10 years, Mike has managed the Massachusetts Section 8 centralized waiting list, which includes 100 housing authorities across the state. Mike currently serves as a waitlist account manager for, where he is working on the new WaitListServ program.

About the company

GoSection8 is a website that was established in 2003 with the purpose of improving the way families searched for affordable housing. has since transformed the Section 8 housing program by creating the largest affordable housing network in the country. Their close relationship with hundreds of municipalities and government agencies makes it possible to help millions of families with their housing needs each year.

Need help with waitlist technology?Rethinking your waitlist management style doesn’t have to be hard or scary, but if you need some extra help, GoSection8 can provide additional assistance. GoSection8’s waitlist management highlights include:

  • Adaptable to any program and PHA policy
  • Sort list by date/time, or lottery, and any PHA preferences
  • PHA Custom Reports
  • One-step or two-step application process (pre-app/full-app)
  • Clear audit trail of selection of applicants and changes made to applications
  • Limited waitlist openings
  • Special admissions override (i.e. displaced due to PH demo)
  • Security of personal information

GoSection8 also has more functionality coming soon, including full applications to collect all applicant and household information and conduct eligibility verification, the ability to export data in HUD 50058 form, and enhanced reporting. For more information, visit their website.

Topics: eligibility, waiting list

HUD announces replacement protocol for UPCS-V

Posted by Annie Stevenson on May 30, 2019 10:11:53 AM

In a Federal Register notice this week, HUD requested comments on a planned two-year continuation of the Uniform Physical Condition Standards for Vouchers (UPCS-V) demonstration. According to the notice, the extension is necessary in order to meet congressional instructions to implement a single inspection protocol for public housing and voucher units.

HUD’s new physical inspection model will be the National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate (NSPIRE). NSPIRE is intended to improve upon the current Uniform Physical Condition Standards (UPCS) protocol by prioritizing health, safety, and functional defects. As the notice explains:

HUD is developing a single inspection standard for all units under the public housing, housing choice voucher, and multifamily programs called National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate (NSPIRE). NSPIRE will leverage the infrastructure of UPCS–V to demonstrate, test, and validate NSPIRE protocols. HUD envisions NSPIRE being used for all housing inspections.

The UPCS-V demonstration began in 2016 and currently includes more than 200 PHAs. As described in the notice, the UPCS-V demonstration extension is necessary to avoid requiring participating agencies to default to HQS standards, to gather additional data, and to allow increased PHA participation. Comments are due by July 29.

Learn more about HCV and public housing inspections

Topics: HQS, inspections, UPCS, UPCS-V, Industry News, NSPIRE

Community development and housing news: May 30, 2019

Posted by NMA on May 30, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Community development and housing news for May 30, 2019

Disaster relief package proceeds to the House for a final vote, THUD appropriations bill continues to move forward, and other stories we're following this week.

Breaking newstornado

Last week the Senate passed a long-delayed disaster relief package that includes $900 million for Puerto Rico.

The vote represents a step toward ending a impasse that had prevented the release of billions of dollars in aid for farmers and communities struggling to recover from an onslaught of natural disasters over the last two years. House leaders hope to pass the emergency spending bill when the full chamber returns from a weeklong Memorial Day recess. Read more

The House THUD subcommittee has approved its FY 2020 appropriations bill.

The proposed funding bill would provide $50.1 billion for HUD programs, $5.9 billion more than the FY 2019 enacted level. It would also prohibit HUD from implementing the “mixed-status” immigrant family proposed rule or any final rule substantially based upon and would prohibit HUD from implementing, administering, or enforcing a proposed rule, announced as part of HUD’s upcoming regulations list, that would repeal the equal access rule for LGBTQ persons utilizing housing resources. Read more

Officials broke ground on a 39-unit building for homeless veterans in Nashville last week.

The project is the first of its kind in Nashville to provide permanent affordable housing to formerly homeless veterans. Read more


What we're readingneighborhood

Relaxing rules on “Accessory Dwelling Units” drastically increased affordable housing stock in the small city of Durango, Colorado.

From 2009 to 2013, confronting development pressures and concerned about housing, Durango overhauled its Land Use and Development Code, which called out Accessory Dwelling Units as an acceptable component of housing stock. Read more

The idea of combining public libraries with affordable-housing projects is starting to catch on.

“There are some cities that have done library and housing projects around the country, but combining them in just the way that the Chicago Housing Authority and the library and the City of Chicago did is fairly novel,” says David Block, director of development at Evergreen Real Estate Group, which was selected to develop two of the three projects in Chicago, including Northtown. Read more


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Topics: appropriations, veterans, disaster recovery

Your top 5 employee training challenges, solved

Posted by Dan Segaline on May 28, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Dan-SegalineOver my roughly three decades of designing and supporting employee training programs in various industries, I’ve talked to thousands of people who invest in on-the-job training—and hundreds more who don’t. If you’re one of the holdouts, don’t worry. I’ve addressed five of the most common training challenges here.

I don’t have time for professional development.

When your to-do list is longer than your desk, making time to learn new job skills can seem nearly impossible. Thanks to technology, though, employee training is now convenient and easy. Gone are the days when you had to sacrifice an entire day to a classroom or a week to a conference to learn about the latest innovations in your field. Today, thousands of professional development classes—and Nan McKay certifications—are available online.

This means you can train at your convenience, without sacrificing your schedule and without the added travel time. Those of us who design professional development training curricula know that you’re busy, so we break up online courses into short sections that you can watch when you have time. (Some are only a couple of minutes long.) How many times have you found yourself with ten minutes to spare before a meeting? It’s not enough time to start a project, but it’s definitely enough time to watch a video. Before you know it, you’ll have strung together enough training videos—we call them modules—to finish an entire course, adding another valuable skill to your résumé.

I can't afford training.

With a dynamic industry like housing, it’s important to ensure that your organization—and your staff—remain current and compliant with changing regulations, so ongoing job training is a must. Plus, research has found that organizations that do not offer employee training have a more difficult time retaining talent. What’s more, the cost of hiring and onboarding a new employee is considerably greater than training an existing staff member. Also, your trained employees can turn around and train others within your organization, resulting in additional training without additional cost. The best way to plan for the expense is to make it an essential part of your annual budget process. Fortunately, online training is budget-friendly, and eliminates training-related travel expenses to boot. It’s a great option for cash-strapped organizations. Pro tip: Many online training providers offer subscription services that come with unlimited classes, multiple user seats, and even substantial discounts.

I don't know where to start.

With so many professional development training options to choose from, it can be difficult to narrow them down. An easy way to choose what to focus on is to read about trends in your industry and pick a course that addresses a topic that interests you. Or think about where you want to go in your career, and take a few classes that are relevant to the promotion you’re hoping to secure. Technology can be a help here, too. Many learning management systems, which store online course catalogs and track your training, can recommend courses based on your particular interests, job role, or training history. Simply enter the information into the platform to receive recommendations that are tailored just for you.

I’m not convinced professional development training is a good use of my time.

If it’s been more than a year since you left school, there have likely been many developments in your industry and your profession that merit your attention. Besides ensuring that you won’t lag behind your peers, ongoing job training encourages independence and initiative—and can trigger creative ideas that can help you work smarter, serve tenants better, or operate more efficiently.

I’m not convinced that online training is effective.

Numerous studies have shown that people recall pictures more easily than they remember words. Indeed, a phenomenon known as the picture superiority effect showed that people remembered only 10 percent of the information they read, versus 65 percent of the information they saw that was paired with images or video. That’s six times greater recall! Online training, which uses a combination of images and words, is not only highly effective, but you can also rewind and re-watch various concepts until they sink in, or in many times participate in additional interactive exercises designed to help you apply what you’ve learned. Plus, there’s no added distraction from other students asking questions or nudging the instructor off topic. Bottom line: If you’re tight on time or budget and staying abreast of the latest developments in your industry and your profession is important to you and your organization, online training might be the answer you’ve been looking for.

Get certified online

About the Author

Dan Segaline specializes in helping housing professionals stay up to date with the latest trends and training that matter most to their organization. A customer success specialist for HTVN, the online training division of HAI Group—Nan McKay’s exclusive online training provider—Dan brings technical training and library and data services to thousands of affordable housing industry professionals. Prior to joining HAI Group, Dan spent 20 years designing and supporting the technical training library at Bristol Myers-Squibb.

Topics: online learning

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