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What you need to know about MTW: Part III

Posted by NMA on Apr 17, 2013 9:27:18 AM

Housing authorities across the country are interested in joining the Moving to Work (MTW) demonstration, but many are unclear on how to become an MTW agency, or how to implement flexibilities once they achieve MTW status.

In this series of posts, we'll discuss how the existing Moving to Work agencies became MTW, the pending legislation that could expand the MTW demonstration to a record number of PHAs, and which flexibilities MTW agencies choose to adopt most frequently.

Proposed Legislation

In this post, we'll focus on proposed legislation to expand the Moving to Work (MTW) demonstration. Please note that NMA does not take a formal position on legislation and that this is only a brief introduction to MTW and administrative efficiency legislation that has been debated in Washington, DC.

As we discussed in Part I, there are very limited circumstances under which public housing authorities (PHAs) can join the MTW demonstration. Because MTW offers the ability to combine funding for the public housing and housing choice voucher (HCV) programs, as well as the opportunity to implement administrative efficiencies by waiving federal regulations, it's no surprise that many PHAs would like to become MTW agencies. As a result, legislation has been repeatedly introduced in Congress to expand the number of PHAs that can become MTW.

Although this legislation may be appealing to many PHAs, several of the provisions have been controversial. Some policy groups and advocates are hesitant to expand the MTW demonstration for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to, the potential for some components to adversely impact residents, as well as the concern that a rigorous evaluation of MTW has not been conducted and that the true outcomes of the program for residents and communities are unclear.

Three recent legislative proposals — the Affordable Housing and Self-Sufficiency Act (AHSSIA), the Moving to Work Improvement, Expansion, and Permanency Act, and the Moving to Work Charter Program Act — provide some insight into the ideas being floated to help PHAs achieve administrative efficiencies and increased flexibilities. These aren't the only pieces of legislation that have been proposed, but they are fairly representative of the MTW expansion ideas in circulation.

AHSSIA would take some of the concepts in use by MTW PHAs and expand them so all PHAs can benefit. It would allow for some streamlined inspection processes, increases in minimum rent, increases in standardized deductions, triennial recertifications for families on fixed incomes, use of prior year income, use of income determined by other federal agencies, and other streamlining measures.

It would also expand the MTW demonstration to "high-capacity" PHAs (those that have at least a 95 percent occupancy/utilization rate for the programs they administer) and greatly increase the size of the MTW program. The legislation would essentially create two tiers of MTW agencies; the agencies with enhanced MTW would be allowed to adopt more substantial rent policies, work requirements, and term limits than the other MTW agencies.

Under AHSSIA, HUD would also be required to conduct three different types of evaluations of the MTW agencies. If these provisions sound familiar, it may be because AHSSIA incorporates some of the same provisions as the Section 8 Voucher Reform Act (SEVRA) that was introduced several years ago.

The Moving to Work Improvement, Expansion, and Permanency Act would make the MTW program permanent and expand it even more than AHSSIA, essentially giving HUD the flexibility to approve an unlimited number of agencies to participate in the program. By contrast, the MTW Charter Program Act would limit the size of the MTW expansion, allowing HUD to enter into charter contracts with up to 250 PHAs for participation in the demonstration. For each of these PHAs, the entire 1937 Housing Act, except for portions dealing with public housing disposition and prevailing wages, would be waived. The PHAs would be required to implement a reasonable rent policy, but they would have the authority to combine their HCV and public housing funds.

Each of these proposed pieces of legislation was introduced prior to the threat of deep funding cuts under sequestration that may impact PHAs dramatically. It's likely that in this time of austere program budgets, Congress may revisit concepts to expand MTW to more agencies or allow for increased flexibilities for all PHAs. However, until legislation is passed, PHAs will continue to have limited opportunities to join the MTW demonstration.

This concludes our three-part series on HUD's Moving to Work (MTW) demonstration. NMA consultant Alison Bell played a leading role as part of a management transition team in the successful start-up of the outsourced administration of a large MTW HCV program. She continues to assist PHAs with their IT procurement projects and provides ongoing technical support to MTW agencies.

Nan McKay and Associates has worked with a number of MTW agencies across the country and can leverage that experience to provide assistance in crafting applications for PHAs that meet the above criteria. For more information, contact sales@nanmckay.com.

Topics: AHSSIA, MTW, sequestration

Meet the NMA team: Carrol Vaughan

Posted by NMA on Feb 14, 2013 2:56:56 PM

Carrol VaughanStarting today, we'll be publishing a series of periodic interviews with the NMA team. First up is Carrol Vaughan, vice president of professional services. Carrol has previously written for the NMA blog on such subjects as HUD's Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD), the proposed voucher reform legislation currently known as AHSSIA, and the project-based voucher (PBV) program.

Tell us about your work experience.

I've been in the affordable housing industry for about 28 years. I ran a nonprofit in 21 counties in Kentucky, was executive director of a medium-sized housing authority in North Carolina, and executive vice president and COO for San Diego Housing Commission. Before that I worked for an executive search firm!

How did you get your start in the industry?

Completely by accident. I was living in Kentucky and saw an ad in the local newspaper for a position in community development. I went by to pick up an application (in my jeans and t-shirt) and was hired by the director that afternoon.

How many years have you been at NMA?

One and a half, this time. Three years in the late '90s.

Education credentials?

Master's degree in public administration.

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

I believe decent housing is the number one necessity in life for someone to be successful. Without housing, families can't send their children to school, or keep a job.

What's your favorite part about your job?

Working with people at different agencies and producing work that they feel is helpful and worthwhile.

Describe your typical work day.

Lots of conversations with people, both staff and clients. Writing or reviewing proposals. Managing engagements to ensure everything is on track and our clients are happy.

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

A very large agency asked us to assess their programs and help establish an effective quality assurance department. I was the engagement manager, and feel that we provided lots of good ideas and worthwhile recommendations. Plus, it was in a great city and it was fun!

What are your hobbies outside of work?

Good question. I've worked professionally since I was 15, and I don't have hobbies, as most people would define. I truly enjoy the work I do. However, I do like to entertain, travel, and spend time with my 'kids' — two Maltese and one Labrador.

Through her veterinarian, NMA VP Carrol Vaughan provides a foster parent home for dogs that have been abandoned or abused. Carrol is also a socialization volunteer for the American Service Animal Society. Look for her in June at the 2013 NAA Education Conference in San Diego and the 2013 NCSHA Housing Credit Conference in San Francisco.

Topics: AHSSIA, Meet the NMA team, PBV, quality control, RAD

AHSSIA aims to improve affordable housing programs and promote self-sufficiency

Posted by NMA on Jun 20, 2012 9:10:13 AM

Carrol VaughanThis article was recently published in the Spring 2012 issue of the SERCulator. As it may be of interest to housing professionals across the United States, we're reposting it here.

A third draft of voucher reform legislation — the Affordable Housing and Self-Sufficiency Improvement Act (AHSSIA) — is now being circulated in Congress. Formerly known as the Section 8 Savings Act (SESA) in its previous iteration, the new draft aims to expand and reform the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program, in addition to making several other reforms to our nation's affordable housing programs.

While the bill has not been formally introduced yet, and its future is still uncertain, there are several important points in the legislation that PHAs should be aware of, and provide input whenever possible.

What is clear from the current draft is that self-sufficiency is now a primary focus. Taking a multipronged approach to promoting self-sufficiency efforts, the bill expands the FSS program by making participation mandatory for PHAs with 500 or more units (combined public housing and HCV, subject to appropriations), allows PHAs to partner or collaborate with other PHAs and outside groups to prevent duplicative work and improve program efficiency, and even allows Section 8 property owners and managers to administer FSS programs in cases where a local PHA program option is not available.

In doing so, the bill effectively makes the FSS program available to all residents of assisted housing under Sections 8 and 9 of the 1937 Housing Act, particularly those who were previously unable to participate.

Other reforms figure prominently in the bill's proposed expansion and streamlining of the FSS program, namely:

  • Consolidating the public housing and HCV FSS programs into a single program
  • Requiring HUD to create incentives for housing agencies to expand their FSS programs
  • Creating a funding structure for participating housing authorities
  • Developing a "best practices" identification system to promote collaboration between administrators
  • Placing requirements on the uses of escrow accounts under the program for graduates who remain on some form of housing assistance (e.g., using disbursements for job training, education, investing in a small business, etc.)
  • Requiring HUD to report regularly to Congress on the successes, challenges, and trends in the program related to the promotion of self-sufficiency

Voucher reform legislation makes the FSS program

available to all residents of assisted housing.

Of particular interest is Section 302 of AHSSIA, which defines a research demonstration for the purposes of evaluating economic security initiatives in subsidized housing. This study would identify FSS practices or strategies that best achieve the goals of the program by requiring HUD to examine different strategies (e.g., flat rents, ceiling rents, conditional cash transfers, work requirements) for a variety of assisted family scenarios, including those with and without high school diplomas, those residing in high- and low-cost markets, those who are currently employed, and those who are unemployed prior to program participation.

Such a study, along with the many other reforms mentioned above, can prove to have far-reaching and lasting effects on the future of assisted housing — particularly in terms of the economic independence of the families we serve.

With over 30 years of experience in the affordable housing industry, VP of Professional Services Carrol Vaughan ensures that NMA continues to help PHAs better serve their communities. She'll be attending the SERC Annual Conference this weekend in New Orleans — if you're there, stop by the Nan McKay booth and say hello!

You can find more information about FSS training and other performance improvement solutions at www.nanmckay.com .

Topics: AHSSIA, appropriations, flat rent, FSS, SERC, voucher reform legislation

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