How to Avoid Noncompliance: Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and Using the 8823 Guide in LIHTC Developments

NMA trainers Samantha Pratter and Sheryl Putnam at last year’s NMA Housing Conference

NMA trainers Samantha Pratter and Sheryl Putnam at last year’s NMA Housing Conference

Trainer and consultant Samantha Pratter has been a part of the NMA team since 2008. As NMA’s writing supervisor, Samantha oversees publications from concept and creation through the ongoing revision process, including NMA Master Books, model policies, course books, and handbooks. She recently wrote for the NMA blog about the key differences between the project-based voucher (PBV) program and the (HCV) housing choice voucher program.

As NMA’s professional development manager, Sheryl Putnam spearheaded the development of our new Blended Occupancy Management and Fundamentals of Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Management certification seminars. Prior to joining Nan McKay and Associates in 2011, she managed the compliance department for a state housing finance agency, providing compliance oversight activities for the LIHTC, PBRA, and HOME programs. Sheryl will be presenting several sessions at the 2014 NMA and GoSection8 Housing Conference, including this one and How to Avoid Noncompliance: Blended Occupancy.

Ensuring Compliance and Maximizing Financial Resources

How to Avoid Noncompliance: Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) and Using the 8823 Guide in LIHTC Developments
Presenters, Sheryl Putnam and Samantha Pratter

As a tax credit owner, avoiding noncompliance in the LIHTC program is a top priority. The Guide to Completing Form 8823, which is a compilation of references with explanations for applying the rules, can provide valuable information on how noncompliance in the program is identified and categorized. The session will include an overview of the Form 8823 and the accompanying guide, as well as a discussion of topics addressed in the 8823 Guide such as changes in household composition, moves, and utility allowances.

Sheryl, Samantha, 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, so don’t delay! Register online or email sales@nanmckay.com for more information.

How to Avoid Noncompliance: Blended Occupancy

Sheryl Putnam

NMA professional development manager Sheryl Putnam will be presenting a session on blended occupancy at this year’s NMA Housing Conference

As NMA’s professional development manager, Sheryl Putnam spearheaded the development of our new Blended Occupancy Management and Fundamentals of Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Management certification seminars. Prior to joining Nan McKay and Associates in 2011, she managed the compliance department for a state housing finance agency, providing compliance oversight activities for the LIHTC, PBRA, and HOME programs. Sheryl recently wrote a series for the NMA blog about blended occupancy projects and will be presenting the following session at the 2014 NMA and GoSection8 Housing Conference.

Ensuring Compliance and Maximizing Financial Resources

How to Avoid Noncompliance: Blended Occupancy
Presenter, Sheryl Putnam

Managing housing developments with multiple funding sources can be complicated. Requirements from multiple oversight agencies need to be satisfied, and there’s an overall lack of guidance on how to operate blended developments, since each monitoring agency audits for compliance with its own program requirements. Because penalties for noncompliance can be severe, this session will explore some of the most complicated compliance areas, including:

  • Applying income limits and income targeting requirements
  • Applying correct rent limits/restrictions
  • Understanding and applying the LIHTC and Section 8 student rules
  • Differences in income and asset calculation and verification
  • Applying utility allowances correctly

Sheryl 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 July 14. Register online or email sales@nanmckay.com for more information.

What does the deregulation of HQS inspections mean for our industry?

Until last week, when HUD published the implementation notice for the changes mandated by the 2014 appropriations act, housing authorities were required to inspect units at the time of initial lease-up and thereafter at least once every twelve months. The new notice relaxes that requirement, specifying that an HQS inspection must occur at least once every two years.

It also provides PHAs with the option of relying on comparable inspections done by other agencies, such as those performed for the HOME or low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) programs, if the other inspection uses similar standards to HUD’s housing quality standards (HQS). This will be true for both initial and ongoing inspections.

PHAs are still responsible for ensuring that subsidies are paid only for units meeting HQS. The hope is that PHAs will focus inspections on the most risky units, while improving compliance overall.

In addition to this widely discussed change from annual inspections to biennial inspections, there’s also the issue of self-certification, with relatively undefined guidelines. HUD offered some guidance last year with the issuance of Notice PIH 2013-17, which provided instructions for the use of photos during the HQS inspection process and included the key point that PHAs may use them to verify that deficiencies have been corrected.

These HQS deregulations are intended to save costs, reduce administrative burdens, and streamline rental programs. While they are now available for implementation by PHAs on a limited basis, further guidance and rule making is expected from HUD. However, we now have enough information to discuss and plan for these changes. How will they affect the affordable housing industry and, more importantly, how will they affect the families we serve?

Over the last year, the housing choice voucher program felt some of the most immediate and severe consequences of sequestration. Industry groups estimate that, due to sequestration, the program served about 70,000 fewer families as compared to a year earlier. Reductions in administrative fees have caused financial stress throughout the industry. Ultimately, the entire program has taken a beating over the last few years, and PHAs are struggling to find ways to continue operations and the business of serving families.

Providing access to affordable housing in safe, secure, and sanitary condition remains the mission of our agencies and the foundation of the HCV program. PHAs need to balance available resources to ensure that families have HAP contracts, that lease-ups are done correctly and on time, and that all other requirements are in place. As an industry, we find ourselves considering several weighty questions: How do we balance deregulation of HQS inspections with what’s right for the family? How do our decisions reflect the mission statement at each individual agency? At what point do we lose sight of our mission statement?

In other words, just because we can, does that mean we should?

It’s a delicate balance. We’re faced with a moral dilemma which is driven by economics, need, and desire to help as many families as possible. And we recognize that it’s not a perfect environment in today’s world and certain things have to give.

Tip #1: Consider your PHA’s mission statement.

Most agencies have always viewed themselves as the protector of their clientele, meaning that they are the guiding force that ensures all families have safe, secure, and sanitary housing. That’s the mission statement of HQS inspections; it’s been the mission statement from the beginning. In moving forward with these new pieces of deregulation, it’s important that PHAs consider their own mission statements as they’re designing and crafting ways to take advantage of these available resources. Just because these new options are available, are they always the best choice for our agencies and for the families in our program?

The agencies I’ve been working with recently are grappling with this question, and the answer isn’t always immediately clear. Agencies are trying to put their resources in the very best places, and while no one is particularly excited about not doing reinspections or not confirming that repairs have been done, the budgets just don’t allow us to do everything we’d like to do. These are very difficult decisions for agencies to make.

The real question is: Where do we put the family in the

mission statement, and how does that apply to deregulation?

Is it always a good idea, and if it is, is it always an all-or-nothing?

Ultimately, we should strive to find a balance between the new options available to us and how we can apply them to the program while staying true to our mission statement.

Tip #2: Don’t assume, “Biennial is good, because it’s going to save us money.”

Biennial inspections are something we’ve seen handled in two different ways. In some cases, the PHA just cuts inspections down the middle — every odd number gets inspected this year, and the next year the other batch gets inspected. That’s a more extreme option.

On the other hand, I work with several MTW agencies that, given this flexibility, chose to focus their efforts on properties that have not been maintained in HQS (that is, they have failed the first inspection) and developed their guidelines accordingly. For example, one agency said, “If you fail the first inspection, we’re going to come back out in six months.” They want to stay right on top of it. If you pass the first inspection, then you’re eligible for the biennial. This reduces the potential for fraud and abuse by landlords.

In the high level, we have two points of deregulation that

are available: self-certification components (without a clear

idea of what that should look like) and biennial inspections,

which have been available to Moving to Work (MTW)

agencies for years and will now be available to all PHAs.

My concern, in the bigger picture, is when you start merging biennial inspections and self-certification. If an agency decides to do biennial inspections but keep reinspections, at least there’s a check and balance. Or if an agency says they’ll do annual inspections but allow landlords to self-certify, again, there’s a check and balance. It’s when you start combining both those options that you begin to see how things can unravel.

In the worst-case scenario, you could have a property that fails for significant deficiencies. The landlord opts to participate in the self-certification program. He signs an affidavit that repairs have been made, no reinspection has been put into place, and you end up with a property that hasn’t been looked at in two years and isn’t safe, secure, or sanitary.

When we push deregulation options to the furthest extreme, it’s vital that we consider the risk of paying HAP on a property that doesn’t meet minimum HQS and is putting families in danger of living in such conditions for a period of two years before someone even goes out to check.

Tip #3: Think through what your agency would need to manage a well-run self-certification program.

With self-certification, the idea is that we’re eliminating the reinspect process, which would save time, effort, and energy for agency staff. But before making a decision, consider what the self-certification option might look like at your agency. Remember, you still have to have an affidavit or an inspection within the 30 days. Even self-certification doesn’t allow you to send out a notice and then not have a follow-up. So if you wait 21 days to find out if the certification comes in, and it doesn’t, then you’re out of time to give reasonable notice to the landlord and the tenant that the inspection is going to move forward.

The primary issue with self-certification, then, is the need it creates for a new tracking system. The most viable one I’ve seen is that you actually schedule the reinspection, provide the self-certification documentation with a drop-dead date (say, 21 days), and if they haven’t provided the self-certification documents within that time period, then the reinspection automatically moves forward. Otherwise you run into a situation where you don’t have adequate time to notice it and you’re going to be falling outside of the 30-day reinspection notice required by HUD.

So does self-certification actually save time? You’ve got clerical staff touching these documents two, three, four times — picking up the file, scheduling the reinspection, managing and tracking the self-certification, possibly including images to document proof of repair and appending them to the file, and going in and canceling the reinspection. And they’re doing all this manually, because no housing software has a solid tracking system for self-certification — it’s something that’s just hit the boards, and everyone’s doing it a little differently. There’s room for a lot of things to slip through the cracks and have a direct impact on SEMAP findings.

Another issue with self-certification is the question of who’s going to sign the affidavit — owner, tenant? We’re asking someone who’s never been to HQS training to certify that a repair meets HQS standards. So the other approach I’ve seen is agencies asking for proof of repair, such as a photograph or a receipt. But now somebody has to gather the documentation, we still have the notice issue, we still have the reinspection issue, and now you have to have staff focus on tracking every single fail to determine whether or not a self-certification came in, and if it did come in, did the documentation meet minimum standards for your agency to mark it as a pass?

That’s a lot of subjective review. It’s time-consuming, and it puts an agency at substantial liability because now your agency is making a decision as to whether or not a landlord has provided adequate verification of repair.

Of course, we’ll know more about the potential benefits and drawbacks of HQS deregulation after HUD integrates stakeholder input into a final rule. But for the time being, these questions should give us plenty to think about.

As project manager 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. Our team of NMAI inspectors 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 sales@nanmckay.com.

HUD publishes HERA final rule

Yesterday in the Federal Register, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published the long-awaited final rule implementing changes from the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA). While the majority of regulatory changes apply to the project-based voucher (PBV) program, the final rule also makes two conforming changes applicable to the tenant-based HCV program.

HERA’s self-implementing provisions were described in a Federal Register notice published on November 24, 2008. On May 15, 2012, HUD published a proposed rule covering HERA provisions that were not self-implementing. Today’s notice finalizes the proposed rule, with changes, and also makes conforming changes to establish HERA’s requirements by regulation.

➤  Changes Applicable to Tenant-Based Program: The final rule revises HUD’s Part 5 income regulations to exclude deferred disability payments from the Veterans Administration. This change was implemented in 2008. Today’s rule also makes streamlining changes to rent reasonableness determinations for units receiving low income housing tax credits (LIHTC).

➤  PBV Changes to Part 983 Regulations:

  • The final rule corrects a regulatory error that excluded “cooperative housing” from the PBV program. Units in cooperative housing are eligible for PBV assistance.
  • The rule makes several regulatory changes to implement the substitution of the word “project” for “building.” These changes cut across several areas of program operation. For example, where the prior rule capped non-excepted PBV units at 25 percent of the units in a “building,” the cap is now at 25 percent of the units in a “project.” A project is defined as a single building, multiple contiguous buildings, or multiple buildings on contiguous parcels of land.
  • The notice clarifies the term “commencement of construction” for purposes of contract execution. Commencement of construction occurs when excavation or site preparation (including clearing of the land) begins. A PHA may not attach or pay PBV assistance for units for which construction or rehab has commenced prior to execution of the agreement to enter into a housing assistance payments contract (AHAP).
  • The final rule gives PHAs the discretion to state in the HAP contract that rent to owner shall not be decreased below the initial rent. Rent to owner may not exceed reasonable rent unless the PHA has included this clause in the HAP contract. The establishment of a rent “floor” was mandatory in the proposed rule but the final rule leaves the issue to the PHA’s discretion.
  • The notice also provides guidance on removal of units from the HAP contract when the family’s income increases and tenant rent equals or exceeds rent to owner. The unit must be removed from the HAP contract 180 days after the last HAP payment. Under the existing rule, another unit may be substituted. The final rule adds a provision for fully-assisted projects: the PHA may reinstate the unit to the HAP contract once the ineligible family moves out.
  • In another change to occupancy rules, the notice provides that elderly or disabled families living in excepted units may continue to occupy the unit after the elderly or disabled family member dies or moves out. The change was made in response to concerns that under the current rule, such families were required to vacate because they no longer qualified for the excepted unit. PHAs now have the discretion to allow the family to continue to occupy the unit and to continue to count the unit as an excepted unit for as long as the family lives there.
  • The final rule also makes minor changes to the regulation covering families occupying units which are overcrowded, under-occupied, or contain accessibility features which the family does not need. The final rule draws a distinction between families who are offered tenant-based assistance to move and those who are offered other forms of continued housing assistance.
    • If the family is offered a tenant-based voucher, the PHA must terminate the HAP for the wrong-sized or accessible PBV unit at the earlier of the voucher expiration date or the date the family vacates the PBV unit. If the family does not move by the voucher expiration date, the PHA must remove the unit from the HAP contract.
    • If the family is offered other, non-voucher housing assistance and does not accept the offer or vacate the PBV unit within a reasonable time (as defined by the PHA), the PHA must terminate the HAP at the end of the reasonable time period. The PHA must also remove the unit from the HAP contract.

The final rule will become effective on July 25.

To receive more updates and analysis like this on the latest HUD news, subscribe to NMA’s PIH Alert and receive a daily email with breaking stories and other important information for PHAs and housing professionals. Have you entered our contest to win a free year’s subscription to the PIH Alert? Don’t delay, the contest ends June 30!

HUD issues implementation notice for appropriations act changes

This morning HUD published a Federal Register notice implementing program changes contained in the 2014 appropriations act. Like last month’s implementation notice on flat rents (Notice PIH 2014-12), today’s notice will serve as interim guidance pending HUD rulemaking. The effective date for the changes discussed in the notice is July 1.

➤  PHA Consortia: The appropriations act changes the definition of “public housing agency” to include a PHA consortium. While PHAs may request waivers of existing restrictions, HUD notes that it will not approve any consortium for administration of multifamily project-based Section 8 contracts.

➤  Biennial Inspections: In the voucher program, PHAs may now elect to conduct housing quality standards (HQS) inspections biennially rather than annually for assisted units. According to the notice, HUD is implementing this change on a limited basis pending stakeholder input through future rulemaking.

The option to perform biennial inspections applies to assisted units during the term of a HAP contract. PHAs must still perform inspections prior to executing a HAP contract, and on an interim basis when requested by a family or government official. For units which have been inspected during the last 12 months, PHAs may reinspect within 24 months of the most recent inspection. For units which have not been inspected within the past 12 months, PHAs must conduct an annual inspection, and may then schedule the next inspection within 24 months.

The new rule does not require PHAs to adopt a 24-month inspection cycle. PHAs may inspect more frequently if they wish to do so. SEMAP scores will reflect the new requirement.

The rule also permits PHAs to substitute “alternative inspections” for required HQS inspections in some circumstances. After submitting a certification to HUD, the PHA could accept inspection results from the HOME program, the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, or similar sources.

For mixed-finance properties, HUD will address changes to inspection requirements in the rulemaking process rather than in this interim notice. Meanwhile, PHAs may adopt biennial inspection policies or alternative inspection methods for these properties.

➤  Definition of Extremely Low Income: In the appropriations act, Congress broadened the definition of “extremely low income (ELI) family” to include families whose income does not exceed the federal poverty level. Under the prior rule, only families whose income did not exceed 30 percent of area median income qualified as ELI.

HUD’s income targeting rule requires that during the PHA’s fiscal year, 75 percent of new admissions to the voucher program and 40 percent of public housing new admissions must be ELI families. The new provision was meant to provide financial relief to PHAs by permitting them to “target” ELI families with slightly higher incomes than the previous rule allowed. For the current fiscal year, PHAs must account for their ELI admissions separately for the period prior to July 1 (under the old rule) and after July 1 (under the new rule).

HUD has recalculated the 2014 income limits to include the new ELI amounts. The revised tables are available here.

➤  Utility Allowances: A change in voucher program rule requires the PHA to now use the utility allowance for the lower of the actual unit size or the voucher bedroom size. Under the previous rule the PHA used the utility allowance for the actual unit size regardless of the voucher bedroom size.

Under the new rule, a family with a 2-bedroom voucher that chooses to lease a 3-bedroom unit will now have the 2-bedroom utility allowance applied. Of course, the PHA must make exceptions if necessary as a reasonable accommodation for a family that includes a person with disabilities.

The new rule on utility allowances is to be applied for all new admissions. For current program participants, the new rule must be applied at the family’s next annual reexamination, as long as the PHA is able to provide the family with written notice at least 60 days in advance of the effective date.

Need help with inspections? Our team of NMAI inspectors 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 sales@nanmckay.com.

Meet the NMA team: Edward Adams

NMA regional account manager Edward Adams will be attending this year's NMA Housing Conference

NMA regional account manager Edward Adams will be attending this year’s NMA Housing Conference

Up next in our “Meet the Team” interview series is Edward Adams, NMA regional account manager for the western United States. Say hi to him this August at the NMA and GoSection8 Housing Conference!

Tell us about your work experience and how you got your start in the affordable housing industry.

Before got involved with affordable housing, I was the Northern California administrator of facility management services for Blue Shield of California, where I was responsible for the construction of new facilities as well as expanding, rehabilitating, and administering existing properties. In this position I directed a staff of architectural designers, coordinators, and contractors, and approved all phases of property improvement, including design, materials, space planning, leases, and contracts.

Just as my career at Blue Shield was ending, I visited a friend in Ventura, CA. The second day I was there I saw an ad in the local newspaper for the director of facilities management for the Area Housing Authority (AHA). Soon after, I underwent the interviewing process and they hired me. That was my first venture into the public sector and I saw things through a much different lens than when working for a large corporation.

Later, as AHA’s chief operations officer, I used the NMA model to create the housing authority’s agency plan, and that was the beginning of my association with NMA — many times I called Nan directly with questions, and always received the correct answers. This was also when I began to participate in various community and local governmental affairs activities.

After I left the AHA, I worked in Iraq as a master planner for an engineering and construction group (I’d served in the U.S. Army several years prior). This was quite interesting in as much as I was still involved in housing, but it was housing for troops and contractors and included establishing and maintaining effective garrison and transportation support for all branches of the military stationed in Iraq. I was one of the few professional staff members who wasn’t an engineer, and my job was to scrutinize and analyze requests for projects, write report scenarios, and make presentations to senior military staff at the Baghdad headquarters. My housing authority experience with making the most of limited funding was tremendously helpful in this position. As I think about Iraq, it’s sad to see what’s happening there now.

When I came back from Iraq, I decided that I wanted to return to the affordable housing industry. I became the housing management division administrator for the city of Tucson, where I worked to implement division strategic plans and work activities to coordinate and synchronize with the housing and community development department’s directions and goals. After five years in the position, I thought it might be time to “retire,” but decided to change directions again. Since I had high regard for NMA, I contacted Carrol Vaughan and she directed me to John McKay and Andrew Denicola, who offered to bring me on board.

How many years have you been at NMA? How many years in the industry?

I’ve been with NMA for almost 18 months, although it seems much longer. I’ve been in the industry for a total of about 20 years.

Education credentials?

I received my B.A. in American studies and English at Youngstown State University and a master of public administration degree at California State University, Northridge. I also hold a certificate in environmental land use and planning from the University of California, Santa Barbara. My other certifications include:

  • Facilities Management Administrator, Building Owners and Managers Institute (BOMI)
  • Public Housing Manager, National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO)
  • Manager of Maintenance, National Center for Housing Management (NCHM)
  • Section 8 Management Certification (Nan McKay and Associates)
  • Low Income Housing Tax Credit Property Management Certification (Novogradic and Company)

What’s one topic you’re most passionate about in the affordable housing industry?

I don’t know if I would consider any topic as being my most passionate, taking into account all the things involved in our industry. But knowing that I’m part of assisting families to find affordable housing is very satisfying. I spent my middle school and high school years living on a farm, but my father lost the farm when I was entering my senior year. We moved into a rural public housing complex which was a godsend for the family. Therefore, I am quite well acquainted with the housing needs of low-income families and what government-assisted programs can provide. The situation many families find themselves in today is even worse than it was for us.

What’s your favorite part about your job?

Ensuring that our clients get what they need, and assisting them through the decision-making process.

Tell us about a successful project that you had a part in.

I was involved with a community housing development organization (CHDO) that took an old motel and turned it into a great housing development for persons with special needs. It wasn’t an easy process, especially layering the funding and getting the public to accept having  it in their “back yard,” but we made it work to everyone’s satisfaction.

Are you affiliated with any outside organizations?

Although I have no present affiliations, I’ve been involved with the following:

  • Volunteer with a CHDO dedicated to serving persons with disabilities
  • Serving on the staff of a federal Section 811 affordable independent living community for persons with mental disabilities
  • Serving on the staff of a nonprofit low-income housing tax credit property owner
  • Serving on a county workforce investment board youth council
  • Serving on a county community development council

Hobbies outside of work?

I enjoy the great outdoors and hunting, having been brought up in a family and region of the country where hunting is commonplace. There’s presently no time for getting out as much as I’d like because of work and other responsibilities, but occasionally camping and just relaxing outdoors is fine. I’m also a supporter of and frequent visitor to my local YMCA; working out is a great stress reliever! And I also support several environmental conservation groups not related to hunting — I believe that as a society we should preserve what we have and try to reverse the damage we’ve done, and continue to do, to our planet.

NMA regional account manager Edward Adams will be attending the 2014 NMA and GoSection8 Housing Conference. Register online or email sales@nanmckay.com for more information. Winners of the 2014 NMA Housing Awards will be announced at the conference — have you submitted your entries yet?

Friday news roundup 5/16/14

2014 NMA Housing Conference infographic

Click to enlarge

Last week the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Related Agencies approved legislation that includes funding for HUD in federal fiscal year (FFY) 2015. According to the press release that accompanies the bill, the committee recommends $26.3 billion for HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH), an increase of $6.2 million over this year.

For tenant-based rental assistance, the funding would provide:

  • $17.69 billion for voucher renewals, a slight (1.88 percent) increase over this year
  • $1.35 billion for administrative fees, a 10 percent decrease over this year
  • $75 million for family self-sufficiency (FSS) coordinators, the same amount as this year
  • $75 million for Veterans Affairs supportive housing (VASH) vouchers, the same amount as this year

For the public housing program, the bill recommends:

  • $1.775 billion for the capital fund, about a 5 percent decrease over this year
  • $4.4 billion for the operating fund, the same amount as this year
  • $25 million for Choice Neighborhoods, about a 72 percent decrease over this year

According to industry reports, the House Appropriations Committee next week will likely begin consideration of the appropriations bill. If you would like to see any of these numbers increased, now would be the time to contact your representative in the House. As the National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) explains in its summary of the bill:

It is critical for members of the House and Senate to hear from constituents that the levels proposed in the House THUD bill are not adequate.

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Related Agencies has yet to mark up its version of the 2015 HUD appropriations bill. In other news:

The Atlantic (via Affordable Housing Report): The future of America’s public housing stock: Demolition by neglect

BeyondChron (via Rooflines): A takedown of inconsistent and illogical arguments against spending on supportive housing for the formerly homeless

Columbia University (via Affordable Housing Report): Housing patterns have remained the chief determinant of school population

The HUDdle: HUD announces winners in student design competition

L.A. Times (via Affordable Housing Report): L.A. politicians weigh plan to replenish affordable housing fund

Meeting of the Minds (via MetroTrends): How could cities better connect all their residents to economic opportunity? and How HUD’s latest fair housing rule could expand access to opportunity

MetroTrends: Affordable housing in safe neighborhoods: Four lessons for success

NationSwell: What cities can learn from San Francisco’s newest public housing project

NLIHC: Disaster LIHTC legislation introduced

Rooflines: Good local housing policy is good economic development policy

Meet the NMA team: Sammie Szabo

Sammie SzaboUp next in our “Meet the Team” interview series is senior associate trainer Sammie Szabo, who joined NMA five years ago after retiring from a four-decade career in the affordable housing industry. With longstanding expertise in complex topics such as project-based vouchers and mixed finance, Ms. Szabo was instrumental in the design of two new seminars focusing on those subjects, Blended Occupancy Management and Developing and Managing Project-Based Vouchers.

Tell us about your work experience.

Before joining Nan McKay and Associates, I worked for a PHA in Southern California for 36 years. That was before the Section 8 program was created, and we administered a public housing program with a total staff of seven people — two in the administrative office (me and the executive director), three in maintenance, and two in the resident services department.

Our waiting list for the public housing program was huge in comparison to the number of units owned by my PHA, and we were very excited when Congress approved the Section 8 program. I wrote our first application for the Section 8 certificate program, and we were approved! Subsequently I wrote and submitted a number of additional applications each and every time funds were available for the certificate program, as well as for the CIAP (pre-capital fund for public housing) and the resident services program.

I became the executive director of the PHA in 1980, and I believe that at age 26 I was the youngest ED. During my tenure with the PHA I expanded the Section 8 program, converted from certificates to vouchers, substantially remodeled the public housing development that had been constructed in 1940, expanded the resident services program, established a vibrant after-school program serving not only children in the public housing program but also in the surrounding community, acquired and rehabbed dilapidated apartments in order to expand affordable housing, and developed affordable housing for seniors using multiple funding sources, including low-income housing tax credits, redevelopment funds, and a loan from the California Housing Finance Agency.

How did you get your start in the industry?

I moved back to California and was looking for a job that interested me, and wasn’t just a paycheck. I was offered two jobs on the same day, one at a local college, the other with the housing authority. The people and the work at the housing authority interested me, I hadn’t had any experience in the public sector, and after growing up the community, I found the fact that there were programs to help persons of low income in a rather wealthy community fascinating.

I accepted the job with the housing authority, and I was hooked. The job was never boring, and the opportunities to learn, grow, and expand the programs and services that help families move up and out were challenging. I loved it! I always said I would leave the public sector when I got bored, or found the job no longer challenged me. It never happened. Frustrating at times? Absolutely! Boring? Never.

What’s one topic you’re most passionate about in the affordable housing industry?

Providing families, and especially children, with an opportunity to improve their lives and futures. Housing is the keystone to a better future.

What’s your favorite part about your job?

Helping the people who help the people. Sounds corny, but it’s what we do. At NMA we take pride in providing our students and clients with the tools they need to do their job well. I am thrilled when I complete a consulting assignment or training and know that because of the work we do, our clients are better prepared to serve their agencies and their clients and manage these precious federal resources.

Describe your typical work day?

There isn’t a typical work day. Some days are all about travel — getting from home base to the training or consulting site, dealing with airports, security, hotels, car rentals, and all that is associated with the joys of travel. Some days I get up very, very early, often in a  different time zone, locate training rooms and materials, unpack, set up a training room, and prepare myself to be ready and energized when the students arrive. Thank God for coffee!

Other days it’s all about meeting with agency staff, getting to know their agency and their needs in order to meet their consulting goals, and respectfully providing the services they need. Yes, living in hotels and eating meals alone is part of the job, but the services we provide are well worth the travel, long days, early mornings, and sore feet.

Tell us about a successful project that you had a part in.

I’m thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of many successful projects: working with my team and the local police department to turn a crime-ridden public housing development into a clean, safe, family-friendly environment; developing much-needed senior housing for extremely low-income seniors as well as “gap group” seniors, those above the income limit levels for government subsidies but too poor to afford quality housing with services; and helping agencies create policies and procedures that allow them to better manage their agencies.

The one that touches my heart the most… the development of an after-school program for children in public housing. When I started at the housing authority, I was appalled by the dropout rate of the youth growing up in public housing. By the time I left my agency, 99 percent of our young people graduated from high school, and the majority went on to graduate from college. We made a real difference, long-term, in the lives of those children and their families.

When she isn’t traveling, training, or consulting, Sammie Szabo loves to read, and can devour a book or two a day. She also enjoys riding the dunes on her quad and appreciating the beauty of the desert, but her favorite pastime is spending time with her family.

Camp tax reform includes proposed changes to LIHTC program

Yesterday afternoon, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) released his proposal to reform the federal tax code. While his discussion draft would preserve the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) program, it also proposes significant changes to the program. You can read a summary of the proposal here.

Several industry organizations have already weighed in with their thoughts regarding the proposal. As Ethan Handelman writes in his NHC blog post, “Housing stakeholders will need time to analyze the 979-page bill, but a few points are clear immediately”:

Working with the LIHTC program: Tip #3

Sheryl PutnamTip #3: Know the definition of “project” in the LIHTC program.

The IRS considers each building in an LIHTC development its own project unless the owner indicates that the building is part of a multi-building project. This important election is made by the owner on line 8b of the IRS Form 8609.

If the project consists of multiple buildings, then “yes” will be checked on line 8b of the IRS Form 8609. If “yes” is selected, the owner must attach a statement to the form identifying each building in the multi-building project by Building Identification Number (BIN). If “no” is selected, then each building is its own project.

This election by the owner affects the project’s minimum set-aside and the ability of tenants to move between buildings without re-qualifying for initial LIHTC eligibility.

Bottom line: Know what your IRS Forms 8609 say!

To review, the three tips I’ve discussed are:

Managing the LIHTC program is a complex task. Be sure your agency has a clear plan for success.

As professional development manager, Sheryl Putnam took the lead role in designing NMA’s newest certification seminar, Fundamentals of Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Management. Prior to joining Nan McKay and Associates in 2011, Ms. Putnam managed the compliance department for a state housing finance agency, providing compliance oversight activities for the LIHTC, PBRA, and HOME programs. She recently wrote a series for the NMA blog about blended occupancy projects.

Take advantage of NMA’s annual year-end sale and save 20% on upcoming sessions of the new LIHTC class in Orlando, FL; Columbia, SC; and New Orleans, LA. Email sales@nanmckay.com for more information.

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