NLIHC calls for action to fully fund housing programs

The National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) is urging PHAs and others to call their members of Congress this week and urge them to protect housing programs. In case you’re interested in participating, here’s NLIHC’s announcement:

Congress returns from August recess this week and will get to work on a continuing resolution (CR) to keep federal programs, including HUD’s housing programs, funded until mid-December. A CR is necessary if Congress does not pass an FY15 HUD appropriations bill before September 30. While a CR will only fund programs at their FY14 levels, a stronger FY15 appropriations bill with strong funding levels would be much better for housing programs. For example:

  • A CR would only fund HUD’s homeless assistance programs at 14% less than the $2.406 billion level requested by President Obama for FY14.
  • At FY14 levels, the housing choice voucher program would be funded at $1.2 billion less than the amount needed to bring back the 40,000 vouchers lost because of 2013’s sequestration, and not yet restored.
  • And, for the critical public housing operating and capital funds, FY14 funding levels are less than both the President requested and the Senate’s FY15 appropriation bill would provide.

At this point, it is unlikely that Congress will pass a full HUD appropriations bill, but will rather move forward with a CR to fund programs just beyond the November elections.

Please join us in calling your Members of Congress to ask them to contact the Chair or Ranking Member of the Appropriations Committee and tell them that providing adequate funding for the McKinney-Vento homeless assistance programs, the housing choice voucher program, the public housing operating and capital programs, the HOME program, and HUD programs are top priorities.

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT

The House and Senate are back from their August recess for just a couple of weeks before another recess prior to the elections.  During this time, Congress must pass some mechanism to fund programs after the start of the next fiscal year, which begins on October 1. Housing programs will be better off if Congress adequately funds them in FY15 rather than continuing FY14 funding levels.

HOW YOU CAN TAKE ACTION

  • Pick up the phone! Call your Senators and Representative this week and ask to speak to the staff person who works on housing issues.
  • Make the ask! Urge them to support sufficient funding for McKinney-Vento homeless assistance grants, tenant-based rental assistance, public housing, HOME, and other important programs.
  • Report back. Contact us to let us know what type of response you are getting when making your calls. We want to be able to track any progress that is being made. Reach us at outreach@nlihc.org.
  • Spread the word. Forward this action alert to your networks with the phone numbers of your Senate and House offices.

MORE INFORMATION

To find the contact information for your Senators and Representative, simply visit NLIHC’s website and enter your zip code in the “Contact Congress” box at the lower right of the screen. When calling, make sure to ask for the staff person who works on housing issues.

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.

MTW Panel Session

NMA vice president of professional services Carrol Vaughan, presenting a session on RAD at last year's NMA Housing Conference

NMA vice president of professional services Carrol Vaughan, presenting a session at last year’s NMA Housing Conference

Carrol Vaughan, NMA’s vice president of professional services, will be moderating several sessions at the 2014 NMA and GoSection8 Housing Conference, including this one and RAD: How It’s Really Working.

Executive Leadership for Performance Excellence

MTW Panel Session
Moderator, Carrol Vaughan
Richard Gentry, President and CEO, San Diego Housing Commission

One of the primary goals of the Moving to Work (MTW) demonstration program is that agencies become more administratively efficient. While non-MTW agencies don’t have the flexibility of regulatory waivers, there are numerous other options for streamlining processes and enhancing operations that can lead to lower costs and improved customer service. This panel includes executives from both MTW agencies and non-MTW agencies who will discuss several ideas your agency may consider as we continue to find ways to serve our communities with the continual decrease in funding.

Carrol 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 starting next week. Register online or email sales@nanmckay.com for more information.

Friday news roundup 5/9/14

This week the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) highlighted the House Appropriation Committee’s proposed 2015 spending bill for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which would reduce funding for rental assistance and anti-homelessness programs by $510 million below this year’s level.

In its blog post, CBPP identified five major problems with the bill:

  • Funding for the housing choice voucher (HCV) program would probably be insufficient for renewals at the 2014 level
  • Funding for HCV administrative fees would be reduced by $150 million without corresponding streamlining measures
  • The bill would reduce public housing funding by $290 million and does not increase funding for the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD)
  • The bill funds homeless assistance at $2.1 billion, the same level as in 2014 and $300 million below the President’s request
  • The bill cuts funding for the HOME block grant, which helps rehabilitate or construct rental properties and assist low-income homeowners, by $300 million below the 2014 level

The article notes that while Congress is working under tight budget limits for non-defense discretionary programs, it should try to do more to help low-income families. In other news:

ABC7 News: SF supervisor turns to Uber to help public housing residents

Center for the Study of Social Policy: Issues of race equity are integral to community change efforts that seek to achieve better results for children and families in persistently distressed neighborhoods

Fast Company: HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan on how design can prepare us for climate change

The HUDdle: Housing’s role in reducing the burden of asthma

Off The Charts: A million things that housing vouchers are doing for mothers on their day

NCSHA: House subcommittee reports HUD FY 2015 funding bill with significant cuts to HOME and other housing programs

NHC: House THUD bill jeopardizes core housing and community development programs

Planetizen: HUD rental assistance on an unsustainable path — what can be done to save it?

Today is national call-in day to end sequestration

The National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) is urging PHAs and others to call their members of Congress today and urge them to cancel sequestration and protect housing programs. Noting that nondefense discretionary programs, including most of the programs administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), have absorbed a disproportionate share of the automatic spending cuts, NLIHC provides this recipe for action today:

Call 866-898-2624 and tell your members of Congress three critical things:

  • Sequestration has already harmed tens of thousands of low-income Americans. The hardships they face will only grow worse unless sequestration is canceled. States and local communities depend on HUD and USDA programs to meet dire housing needs. Sequestration has made it even harder for poor people to find and afford housing and threatens to cause more people to become homeless.
  • The Budget Committee conference members must come to an agreement that cancels sequestration before the December 13 deadline.
  • An agreement that cancels sequestration will allow Congress to pass fiscal year (FY) 2014 spending bills, instead of another continuing resolution, which would avoid further cuts to HUD and USDA programs.

If you prefer to craft your own message, click here to view other potential talking points.

Are you concerned about the impact of sequestration on your agency? Stay updated with the latest program information by subscribing to the PIH Alert and Housing Resource Newsletter, currently 20% off during the NMA once-yearly sale.

Working with sequestration in the public housing program: Tip #20

Cara Gillette

While public housing funding for May is now at an 82% proration level (up from 79% in April), sequestration is still in effect, and Congress shows no inclination to reverse it any time soon.

The business of owning and managing affordable housing in decent, safe, and sanitary condition and in good repair remains our mission. PHAs need to plan more strategically than ever before. So, as all businesses must ask in tough times: How can we maximize dollars and cut costs?

Tip #20: Consider at least partial regionalization.

If you’re a small to medium PHA in the vicinity of other PHAs, consider the cost savings if you collaborate in some essential functions. Maybe you’re not interested in or ready for full regionalization. But think about it: a regional site-based waiting list would give verified applicants much more choice. Regional accounting, HR, quality control (QC), RFPs and RFQs, and training could save a lot of needed dollars.

To review, here are the 20 tips we’ve discussed over the course of this series:

Maximize dollars

Reduce costs

Public housing directors and managers know how to do the job with tight resources. Working with reduced funding is a challenge. With strategic planning, accurate and timely reporting and monitoring of property performance, and highly competent property managers and staff, the PHA can ensure its properties are financially viable. As with any business, the properties need to look at ways to increase income and decrease costs. Looking collaboratively at revenue and expenditures enables the PHA to make those smart asset management decisions.

NMA senior associate Cara Gillette trains, consults, and provides technical assistance nationwide in fair housing, public housing management, hearings, economic self-sufficiency, and governing boards. Prior to joining NMA, Ms. Gillette served at the San Diego Housing Commission, administering its public housing and Section 8 waiting lists, serving as hearing officer, managing public housing, and overseeing resident economic development programs. She has previously written for the NMA blog about blended occupancy projects.

If you find that you need staffing help during sequestration, NMA can assist your agency with recertifications (done remotely), quality control, outsourced hearing officer services (done remotely), HQS inspections, and more. Email sales@nanmckay.com for more information.

Working with sequestration in the public housing program: Tip #19

Cara Gillette

While public housing funding for May is now at an 82% proration level (up from 79% in April), sequestration is still in effect, and Congress shows no inclination to reverse it any time soon.

The business of owning and managing affordable housing in decent, safe, and sanitary condition and in good repair remains our mission. PHAs need to plan more strategically than ever before. So, as all businesses must ask in tough times: How can we maximize dollars and cut costs?

Tip #19: Limit liability.

Losing a lawsuit is a way to lose big money. Avoid getting hit with a voluntary compliance agreement (VCA), which can be extremely time-consuming and expensive.

Make sure your reasonable accommodation processes, forms, and policies are compliant, understandable, understood by staff, and communicated to applicants and residents. If your PHA has 15 employees or more, you’re required to have a 504 coordinator, although of course in smaller PHAs that function may be fulfilled by the executive director or other manager. Track your reasonable accommodation requests, and have a final approval process for any denial of a reasonable accommodation.

Be proactive and vigilant about other fair housing issues. Take another look at your LEP plan for competent interpretation and written translation of key documents (or key portions of key documents). Make sure you’re not prohibiting children in your elderly/disabled developments — the eligibility requirement is that the head of house, spouse, or cohead are 62 years or older or meet the HUD definition of disabled. Nothing allows you to prohibit children in public housing.

Be sure that you’re implementing Section 3 requirements in your procurement processes. FHEO is monitoring this, a sure sign that HUD is serious about it. We’ve seen PHAs, counties, and even states put under VCAs for lack of fully implementing Section 3.

Lastly, never skip any steps when it comes to safety. Onsite staff as well as maintenance technicians should note anything with the potential to become unsafe, and a work order should be issued. Train staff to keep their eyes out for potential safety hazards when walking the grounds and common areas. Staff, as well as maintenance, should understand what a health and safety deficiency is under the uniform physical condition standards (UPCS).

Next: Working with sequestration in the public housing program: Tip #20

NMA senior associate Cara Gillette trains, consults, and provides technical assistance nationwide in fair housing, public housing management, hearings, economic self-sufficiency, and governing boards. Prior to joining NMA, Ms. Gillette served at the San Diego Housing Commission, administering its public housing and Section 8 waiting lists, serving as hearing officer, managing public housing, and overseeing resident economic development programs. She has previously written for the NMA blog about blended occupancy projects.

If you find that you need staffing help during sequestration, NMA can assist your agency with recertifications (done remotely), quality control, outsourced hearing officer services (done remotely), HQS inspections, and more. Email sales@nanmckay.com for more information.

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