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HUD suspends mandatory SAFMRs

Posted by NMA on Aug 15, 2017 9:00:12 AM

govt-columns.jpgIn a letter to PHAs dated August 11, HUD announced that it has suspended the mandatory use of small area fair market rents (SAFMRs) for a period of two years. The suspension applies to 23 of the 24 metropolitan areas which had been selected to use SAFMRs beginning on October 1, 2017. The requirement has been suspended for two years, until October 1, 2019.

According to the letter, HUD decided to suspend the requirement for three reasons:

  • Interim findings of the SAFMR demonstration, in operation since 2012, indicate the need for further analysis of benefits and costs
  • Responses to HUD’s request for comments on regulatory reform recommended a suspension of the requirement
  • HUD has not yet provided guidance and technical assistance

The letter further states that PHAs may request permission from HUD to implement SAFMRs on a voluntary basis. Some PHAs may have already prepared for implementation and may wish to proceed. HUD will expedite the approval process for PHAs impacted by the suspension of mandatory SAFMRs.

PHAs designated to use 50th-percentile FMRs, for which the three-year authorization period did not expire before January 17, 2017, will continue to use them until October 1, 2019. These PHAs will then transition to the use of SAFMRs.

HUD plans to provide implementation guidance and training on all aspects of the rule, including voluntary use of SAFMRs and options for PHAs operating in 50th-percentile FMR jurisdictions. Questions may be directed to HUD field offices or to SAFMR_Rule@hud.gov.

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.

Topics: flat rent, FMR, PIH Alert, Program News and Notices

Q&A: Flat rent annual review

Posted by NMA on Sep 6, 2016 12:32:53 PM

Flat rent annual reviewQUESTION    I’m confused about all of the flat rent changes over the past couple of years. I see that HUD has published FMRs for 2017 and I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with them. Help, please!

ANSWER    You’re correct that HUD published the fair market rents (FMRs) for federal fiscal year (FFY) 2017 on August 26. The FMR data set includes a table of unadjusted rents. Small area fair market rents (SAFMRs) were posted on August 30. Your agency will need one or more of these data sets in order to comply with HUD’s current requirements for reviewing flat rents on an annual basis. The flat rent annual review must be completed within 90 days after the issuance of new FMRs.

The current requirements for determining public housing flat rents were published in the streamlining final rule (published March 8 in the Federal Register) and in Notice PIH 2015-13 (published September 8, 2015). The corresponding regulations are at 24 Code of Federal Regulations 960.253. PHAs are now required to set flat rents at no less than the lower of:

  • 80 percent of the applicable FMR
  • 80 percent of the SAFMR (published for metropolitan areas)
  • 80 percent of unadjusted rents (published for nonmetropolitan areas)

Alternatively, PHAs may apply for an exception waiver through HUD to allow a lower flat rent. For areas in which HUD has not published a SAFMR or unadjusted rent, flat rents must be set at no less than 80 percent of the applicable FMR.

Since FMRs are published annually, PHAs must now review flat rents each year to ensure compliance with the current rule. The following is an excerpt from Notice PIH 2015-13 which describes the requirements for the flat rent annual review:

In order to comply with the flat rent requirements annually, no later than 90 days after issuance of new FMRs or SAFMRs by HUD, the PHA must:

1. Compare the current flat rent amount to the applicable FMR and SAFMR/unadjusted rent:

a) If the flat rent is at least 80 percent of the lower of the FMR or SAFMR/unadjusted rent, the PHA is in compliance with the law, and no further steps are necessary;

b) If the flat rent is less than 80 percent of the lower of the FMR and SAFMR, the PHA must set flat rents at no less than 80 percent of the lower of the FMR or SAFMR/unadjusted rent, subject to the utilities adjustment in this notice, or the PHA may request an exception flat rent pursuant to the requirements of Section 4 of this notice;

2. Update the flat rent policies in the admissions and continued occupancy policies (ACOP) as necessary;

3. At all new admissions, permit the family to choose between the flat rent amount and the income-based rent; and

4. For families that are current public housing residents, offer the updated flat rent amount at the next annual rent option, and permit the family to choose between the flat rent amount and the income-based rent

Flat rent increases must be capped at 35 percent per year. PHAs are no longer permitted to phase in increases of 35 percent or less.

Are you a PIH Alert subscriber? Every Friday, the PIH Alert includes one frequently asked question (FAQ) submitted by our readers. To submit your question, email Annie Stevenson at annie@nanmckay.com with the subject line "FAQ Friday."

If you're attending The Housing Conference this month in San Antonio, you can also ask Annie your question in person! Don't miss her sessions on the fair housing final rule and new and upcoming affordable housing legislationRegister online or email sales@nanmckay.com for more information.

Topics: final rule, flat rent, FMR, PIH Alert, PIH notices, Program News and Notices, Q&A, streamlining

2017 SAFMRs now available on HUD's website

Posted by NMA on Aug 30, 2016 11:11:07 AM

HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) has posted “hypothetical” small area fair market rents (SAFMRs) for federal fiscal year (FY) 2017. The data set of 2017 SAFMRs was posted this morning to PD&R’s SAFMR web page.

2017 FMRs were published in a Federal Register notice on August 26. That notice explained that while HUD will no longer publish proposed and final versions of FMRs, PHAs may comment on the FMRs and request reevaluation until September 26.

As further explained in the August 26 notice, PHAs may provide data-supported comments or requests for reevaluation of SAFMRs by using HUD’s special tabulations of the distribution of gross rents by bedroom unit size for ZIP code tabulation areas. HUD will post revised SAFMRs after confirming the calculations.

HUD published a proposed rule on the use of SAFMRs in the HCV program on June 16. The rule, which is intended to help reduce the number of assisted families that reside in areas of high poverty concentration, would require the use of SAFMRs in certain metropolitan areas if the area meets a specific set of criteria. SAFMRs may also be used in determining public housing flat rents in metropolitan areas.

Interested in learning more about SAFMRs? Make an appointment to talk with one of our rent calculation experts at The Housing ConferenceAnnie Stevenson and other industry experts are available for limited free one-hour Q&A sessions with registered conference attendees. Don’t delay, signups close this Friday! Register online or email sales@nanmckay.com for more information.

Topics: flat rent, FMR, Program News and Notices, proposed rule

NMA's 2016 model policies shipped to subscribers!

Posted by NMA on May 26, 2016 10:55:58 AM

We're pleased to announce that the 2016 editions of our model policies have shipped out! All revision service customers should receive these within a week or so.

2016: For 2016, the NMA Model Administrative Plan and Guide has been brought current with all recent regulatory requirements and guidance, including:

  • Sweeping changes brought about by the final rule on streamlining administrative regulations, issued March 8, 2016, including modifications regarding verification, utility reimbursements, the earned income disallowance, annual and interim reexaminations, inspection protocol, among other areas of program administration
  • Further clarifications on the streamlining rule as described in Notice PIH 2016-05, which provided implementation guidance on various aspects of the rule
  • Updates to policies on the use of arrest records per Notice PIH 2015-19
  • Clarifications regarding the definition of tuition, as specified in Notice PIH 2015-21
  • Other minor modifications and clarifications to bring the content current with HUD regulations and guidance

2016: For 2016, the NMA Model Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policy (ACOP) and Guide has been brought current with all recent regulatory requirements and guidance, including:

  • Sweeping changes brought about by the final rule on streamlining administrative regulations, including modifications regarding verification, utility reimbursements, the earned income disallowance, annual and interim reexaminations, calculating rents for mixed families, grievances, and the community service requirement, among others
  • Implementation guidance on the final rule as described in Notices PIH 2016-05 and PIH 2016-06
  • Further clarifications on the community service requirement found in Notice PIH 2015-12
  • Modifications to policies on phasing-in flat rents per Notice PIH 2015-13
  • Updates on the use of arrest records as described in Notice PIH 2015-19
  • Revision of the definition of tuition specified in Notice PIH 2015-21
  • Discussion in the model ACOP instruction guide on over-income families following the letter to executive directors issued September 3, 2015
  • Other minor changes and clarifications throughout to bring the content current with HUD regulations and guidance

2016: For 2016, the NMA Public Housing Assessment System (PHAS) Master Book has been brought current with all recent regulatory requirements and guidance, including:

  • Revisions regarding Notice PIH 2015-12 on the community service and self-sufficiency requirement (CSSR)
  • Modifications concerning the redesignation of 24 CFR Part 85 to 2 CFR Part 200
  • Updates to relevant references, including regulatory updates for the final rule on streamlining administrative regulations, issued March 8, 2016
  • Other corrections and modifications for clarity and ease of reading

2016: COMING SOON! For 2016, the NMA Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Master Book has been brought current with all recent regulatory requirements and guidance, including:

  • Sweeping changes brought about by the final rule on streamlining administrative regulations, issued March 8, 2016, including modifications regarding verification, utility reimbursements, the earned income disallowance, annual and interim reexaminations, and inspection protocol, among other areas of program administration
  • Further clarifications on the streamlining rule as described in Notice PIH 2016-05, which provided implementation guidance on various aspects of the rule
  • Changes to account for the final rule on streamlining portability, issued August 20, 2015
  • Updates regarding the use of arrest records in denials and terminations per Notice PIH 2015-19
  • Revisions for Notice PIH 2016-02 on enhanced voucher requirements for over-housed families
  • Other minor modifications and clarifications to bring the content current with HUD regulations and guidance

Questions about your revision services subscriptions? Contact Laurie Durrett in our accounting department and she'll be happy to assist you.

NMA revision services provide a yearly update to your NMA Master Books and model policies with explanations and guidance regarding the most current HUD rules and regulations. To stay updated on the latest program information, try a free 30-day trial subscription to the PIH Alert. Email sales@nanmckay.com to get started.

Topics: books and revision services, community service, criminal records, EID, flat rent, HQS, inspections, over-income families, PIH Alert, portability, Program News and Notices, recertification, rent calculation, streamlining, utilities

HUD publishes final rule on streamlining admin regs

Posted by NMA on Mar 1, 2016 2:10:52 PM

In a press release this morning, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that it will soon be publishing a final rule streamlining administrative regulations for the public housing (PH), housing choice voucher (HCV), and multifamily housing programs.

The streamlining final rule combines changes in the 2014 and 2015 appropriations acts, elements of HUD’s 2013 temporary compliance options, and other streamlining changes. As you may recall, PIH published the proposed streamlining rule last year on January 6, 2015, and an interim rule on flat rents September 8, 2015.

Today's 99-page final rule includes revisions to the proposed rule and finalizes the regulations contained in the interim rule. Among numerous other changes, the streamlining final rule:

  • Adopts two separate “dates of admission” for the HCV program, specifically the date of voucher issuance and the date of lease-up, for the purposes of verification of social security numbers.
  • Does not allow for the use of actual past income that was included in the proposed rule, based on public comments that suggested it would have minimal streamlining benefits.
  • Provides for a streamlined income determination for any fixed source of income, even if a person or family with a fixed source of income also has a non-fixed source of income, and requires that a full reexamination and redetermination of income must be performed every three years.
  • Revises the earned income disallowance (EID) so that the benefit now applies for a straight 24-month period and PHAs are no longer obligated to track the number of months due to employment starts and stops. For families currently enrolled and participating in EID, the previous requirements will continue to apply. HUD will publish a separate notice with more information about the new administrative requirements.
  • Authorizes PHAs to obtain third-party documentation of assets under $5,000 every three years.
  • Provides PHAs with the option of making quarterly utility payments for reimbursements totaling $45 or less per quarter. If the PHA opts to do so, it must institute a hardship policy for tenants.
  • Includes some but not all of the proposed changes to public housing grievance procedures. PHAs are no longer required to consult resident organizations before appointing a hearing officer, nor must they retain a redacted copy of each hearing decision to be made available to prospective complainants. In place of that requirement, they must maintain a log of hearing officer decisions. However, PHAs must still prepare a summary of any informal settlement, and either party to a grievance may request, at their own expense, that a transcript of a grievance hearing be prepared.
  • Clarifies that if an alternative inspection method is used in the HCV program that employs sampling, PHAs may rely on that method only if HCV units are included in the population of units forming the basis of the sample.
  • Specifies that PHAs may charge a reasonable housing quality standards (HQS) reinspection fee only if an owner states that a deficiency has been fixed and the deficiency is found during reinspection to persist, or if a reinspection conducted after the expiration of the timeframe for repairs reveals that the deficiency persists. It also specifies that any such fees collected must be used only for activities related to the provision of tenant-based assistance.

A prepublication copy of the final rule is posted here. It will become effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Keep up with housing industry news, trends, and notices with a subscription to NMA's PIH Alert. You'll receive a daily email filled with up-to-the-minute program changes, requirements, and assistance. Email sales@nanmckay.com for more information.

Topics: appropriations, EID, final rule, flat rent, hearing officer, HQS, inspections, Notice PIH 2013-03, PIH Alert, Program News and Notices, rent calculation, streamlining, utilities

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