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Friday news roundup 3/20/15

Posted by BEMuser on Mar 20, 2015 11:17:44 AM

Yesterday HUD issued a press release about the new Section 3 proposed rule, which has not yet been published in the Federal Register but was previewed earlier this week in an advance copy.

The press release (and an accompanying set of FAQs) highlights the nationwide Section 3 business registry. Established in July 2014, the Section 3 registry is a searchable online database that local housing authorities, government agencies, and contractors can use to find firms that are self-certified as employing at least 30 percent public housing residents or low-income workers. In other news:

Housing Finance: Rents rising faster than incomes

The HUDdle: Going green

NHC: Housing affordability improves slightly, but challenges remain for working renters and people of color

Today is the first day of spring, and after the winter we've had, it's safe to say most of us are looking forward to it. Enjoy your weekend!

Topics: green building, Program News and Notices, proposed rule, Section 3

How does the capital fund final rule affect PHAs? Part IV

Posted by BEMuser on Sep 4, 2014 9:52:34 AM

Late last year, HUD published the much-anticipated capital fund final rule in the Federal Register. Effective November 25, 2013, the new regulation combined and streamlined former capital fund program (CFP) requirements for rehabilitation and development into one comprehensive regulation.

It goes without saying that while much has remained the same, some significant changes have occurred, and understanding these changes is crucial for efficient and uniform program implementation and management. We hope that this blog series will provide you not only with an overview of the final rule, but also the answers to some questions you many have, and that it will ultimately help you navigate these changes.

What do I need to know about changes to mixed-finance requirements?

The capital fund final rule requires submission of evidentiary documents for mixed-finance projects at HUD's discretion. It also eliminates the requirement for a separate waiver to use identity of interest approvals as part of the development process. Separate waivers are no longer required.

And energy efficiency?

The rule puts into regulation that Energy Star appliances are eligible capital fund costs. It also implements the 009 Energy Conservation Code (IEDD) or ASHRAE standard 90-1-2010 for multifamily highrises (four stories or higher, which is consistent with the standard used in over 40 states throughout the U.S.). Accordingly, all modernization projects must be designed and constructed with cost-effective energy conservation measures identified in the PHA's most recently updated energy audit. PHAs must purchase appliances that are Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) or Energy Star-designed products, although exceptions will be given if the purchase of these appliances is not cost-effective.

While public housing funds may not be used to pay for housing construction costs (HCCs) and community renewal costs in excess of the total development cost (TDC) limit, under the final rule, PHAs may request a TDC exception for integrated utility management, capital planning, and other capital and management activities that promote energy conservation and efficiency.

Resources

We hope that this summary helps to make the capital fund final rule more understandable. For more information about the provisions of the final rule, our Capital Fund Program seminar provides an in-depth look. You can also access the final rule in the Federal Register here.

Kaylene Holvenstot has been a technical writer at NMA since 2008. She contributes to and edits NMA Master Books, seminars, and model policies while researching and analyzing the latest HUD guidance to ensure that all course material is always up to date and fully accurate.

Looking for more in-depth analysis of PIH notices and proposed, interim, and final rules, plus much more, in a daily email? Try a free 30-day trial subscription to the PIH Alert. Email sales@nanmckay.com to get started.

Topics: capital fund, energy efficiency, final rule, green building, mixed financing, Trainers and Consultants, utilities

PIH issues notice on 2015 op sub eligibility calculations and revised preliminary eligibility report for 2014

Posted by BEMuser on Aug 21, 2014 12:51:50 PM

On Tuesday HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) issued Notice PIH 2014-19 to provide instructions for the calculation of 2015 operating subsidy eligibility. The content of the notice is similar to the content of last year’s notice on the same subject (PIH 2013-16), but it’s not identical. For this reason, we recommend a close reading of the entire text. A few new and noteworthy additions:

  • Because PHAs are no longer required to enter unit status data into HUD-52723s, the burden on PHAs ultimately will decrease as redundant reporting requirements are eliminated. In general, HUD anticipates only limited unit status changes. However, it is essential that PHAs ensure that all data on their operating subsidy forms are correct so as to provide for accurate funding. Agencies may work with their respective HUD field office to edit their unit status data.
  • HUD will notify PHAs via the Financial Management Division (FMD)'s mailing list when it has generated its list of projects determined to be eligible for 2015 operating subsidy. If you see any errors on the list, you should notify your HUD field office within 10 business days after the list is published.
  • No date is given for when the PIH office expects to deploy the 2015 Excel tools or when they will be due. The tentative submission schedule will be posted here.
  • PHAs are reminded that operating subsidy provided to PHAs must be obligated by PHAs by the end of the calendar year for which it was appropriated. Thus, CY 2015 operating subsidy must be obligated by PHAs no later than December 31, 2015. Consistently, HUD appropriation acts have defined an obligation as a binding agreement that will require an outlay or expenditure of funds immediately or in the future. Because 24 CFR part 990 permits PHAs to accumulate reserves (referred to as excess cash in 24 CFR 990.280), disbursements of operating subsidy in LOCCS constitute both an obligation and expenditure. To the extent that a PHA has not disbursed all CY 2015 operating subsidy in LOCCS by December 31, 2015, it should maintain sufficient documentation to demonstrate that any balance remaining in LOCCS is obligated.
  • HUD has partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to encourage PHAs to use the EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager system to manage their utility consumption. To facilitate this, HUD is exploring ways to import data directly from EPA’s Portfolio Manager to prepopulate 52722 tools. HUD currently prepopulates 52722 tools with rolling base data, with PHAs entering data for the current year. HUD plans to roll out Portfolio Manager for PHAs to use on a voluntary basis in CY 2015. HUD will publish a notice providing instructions and guidance for PHAs interested in utilizing Portfolio Manager for CY 2015.

In an email sent today to the Financial Management Division (FMD) mailing list, HUD announced that it has posted a second preliminary eligibility report, post revisions, for the calendar year (CY) 2014 operating subsidy. The report has been posted to the CY 2014 operating subsidy website. According to the email:

This report reflects revisions submitted to date, as well as new projects.  This is one of the last opportunities PHAs will have to confirm that their eligibility amount is accurate.  PHAs should review the eligibility report immediately, and contact their field office if there is any discrepancy.

The email also states that today’s report does not include flat rent adjustments. A report with flat rent adjustments included will be posted shortly. To join the PH-FMD mailing list, click here.

To receive updates and analysis on the latest PIH notices, subscribe to NMA's PIH Alert and receive a daily email with breaking news and other important information for PHAs and housing professionals.

Topics: energy efficiency, flat rent, green building, LOCCS, operating subsidy, PIH Alert, PIH notices, Program News and Notices

Working to build sustainable communities: Part II

Posted by BEMuser on May 8, 2014 9:55:44 AM

GreenIf you're reading this blog, you've probably heard the terms "going green," "green building," "sustainable development," and "sustainable communities."

If you're like me, you probably have a positive association with the terms and may even be able to take an educated guess at what each one means. But, chances are, you probably don't know exactly what they mean. Even if you do, you may not know how they're different, why they're important, or how they're related to the work of a housing authority.

In this blog series, we'll unpack those terms and take a look at some examples of successful sustainable communities' initiatives, as well as provide some resources for where you can get more information and how you can get started planning towards sustainability in your community.

Why is planning a sustainable community important, and how does it relate to the work of a housing authority?

In times of reduced resources, it's important for civic organizations and public housing agencies to plan for the future together in order to find solutions for our community problems and achieve the greatest results. Green building and sustainable development initiatives are commendable, but the health of our communities and country are dependent on developing sustainable communities — that is, communities that focus their resources on preserving the environment, providing clean and adequate transportation options, advancing economic development, and creating affordable housing. Let's look at some examples:

Valley Visions (San Joaquin Valley, California)

The eight counties of the San Joaquin Valley are coordinating on some aspects of these planning efforts to maximize resources; however, each metropolitan planning organization (MPO) is developing a separate plan. Their sustainable communities strategy (SCS) process is referred to as "Valley Visions." These SCS regional plans consider long-term housing, transportation, and land-use needs, taking a big-picture look at how the Central Valley can grow over time in a way that uses resources efficiently, protects existing communities, conserves farmland and open space, and supports the Central Valley economy.

Planning in advance for growth can result in better neighborhoods, more housing and transportation choices, and a higher quality of life for residents. Each SCS regional plan must address the following items:

  1. Identify areas to house the region's population growth for at least the next 25 years, including households at all income levels
  2. Develop a regional transportation plan (RTP) that meets the needs of the region
  3. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles and light trucks

Piedmont Together (Piedmont Triad Region, North Carolina)

The population within the Piedmont Triad region in North Carolina is expected to grow by 15 percent within the next 10 years, bringing a new set of transportation challenges. With funding through the Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program, the Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation will develop a plan for sustainable development in the region that helps it move from its agricultural and manufacturing history to a strong position in the new knowledge-based economy.

The integrated regional plan will encourage investment in and near urban areas and towns to reduce sprawl, investigate expanding access to non-automobile transportation, define a structure for taking advantage of existing assets in institutions of higher education, and assess the need for and optimal placement of affordable housing.

Oyate Omniciye Plan (Oglala Lakota of Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota)

With funding through the Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program, a consortium of community organizations, nonprofits, and Oglala Lakota tribes led by the Thunder Valley Community Development Organization will implement an unprecedented two-year sustainable development plan. To encourage grassroots development and community empowerment, the grant was awarded to a diverse alliance of stakeholders in addition to local government, thereby involving all facets of the local Lakota community.

The Oyate Omniciye Plan seeks to integrate housing, land use, economic development, transportation, and infrastructure across a wide southeastern swath of South Dakota in order to tackle the interlinked challenges of sustainability. In one part of the plan, Thunder Valley will work with renowned green architecture and design firm Berkebile Nelson Immenschuh McDowell (BNIM) to sustainably develop 85 acres of land in the reservation's Porcupine District near Sharp's Corner, SD. Not only will the development be environmentally sustainable, it will be based on the spiritual and cultural values of local residents. The development will also include a shelter and community center for at-risk youth.

Resources

Last month HUD’s Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities changed its name to the Office of Economic Resilience (OER). With the new name came a new home page and a new director, Harriet Tregoning. As described on its website, the OER “helps communities and regions build diverse, prosperous, resilient economies by enhancing quality of place; advancing effective job creation strategies; reducing housing, transportation, and energy consumption costs; promoting clean energy solutions; and creating economic opportunities for all.”

Other important resources include:

American Planning Association's Sustaining Places Initiative

Department of Transportation's Office of Transportation Policy

Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Sustainable Communities

Partnership for Sustainable Communities

With over a decade of experience working in the affordable housing industry, NMA consultant Nate Paufve has done everything from supervising a team of housing specialists to developing OIG responses, overseeing a document management team, serving as an internal auditor for PBCA operations in multiple states nationwide, and strategic planning related to Moderate Rehabilitation (Mod Rehab), project-based voucher, and housing choice voucher programs. He holds a B.A. in urban studies and an M.A. in public policy from the University of Chicago and has also worked extensively with nonprofit organizations and provided policy research on affordable housing programs.

NMA can assist your agency with PNA planning and energy audits. For more information, contact sales@nanmckay.com.

Topics: green building, PNA, sustainable communities, Trainers and Consultants

Working to build sustainable communities: Part I

Posted by BEMuser on May 1, 2014 1:47:54 PM

GreenIf you're reading this blog, you've probably heard the terms "going green," "green building," "sustainable development," and "sustainable communities."

If you're like me, you probably have a positive association with the terms and may even be able to take an educated guess at what each one means. But, chances are, you probably don't know exactly what they mean. Even if you do, you may not know how they're different, why they're important, or how they're related to the work of a housing authority.

In this blog series, we'll unpack those terms and take a look at some examples of successful sustainable communities' initiatives, as well as provide some resources for where you can get more information and how you can get started planning towards sustainability in your community.

Going green? Sustainable communities? What does it all mean?

Going green is a blanket term used to describe a philosophy or lifestyle of environmentalism focused on reducing the amount of pollution and waste one generates. At home, this may mean many things, including reusing and repurposing various household items, buying from local food sources, replacing incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent light bulbs, buying household products with natural or less harmful chemicals, and recycling cans, paper, glass, and plastic.

In the workplace, examples of going green might be the workplace recycling program, the cafeteria using recycled materials, or the office deciding to set the thermostat a few degrees cooler in winter and a few degrees warmer in summer.

Green building is used to describe a building process that is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient. Stemming from a need and desire for more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly construction practices, green building uses a variety of techniques to reduce and ultimately eliminate the impacts of buildings on the environment and human health. Green building emphasizes the use of renewal resources — for instance, the use of sunlight through passive solar, active solar, and photovoltaic equipment, or the use of plants and trees through green roofs, rain gardens, and reduction of rainwater runoff.

Other examples of techniques used in green building include using low-impact building materials, or choosing packed gravel or permeable concrete, instead of conventional concrete or asphalt, to enhance replenishment of ground water. Modern sustainability initiatives have expanded green building to include integrating the building lifecycle with each green practice employed to create a synergy among the practices used.

Sustainable development seeks to incorporate the principles of green building with protecting and enhancing the overall health, natural environment, and quality of life. Sustainable development accomplishes these goals by promoting the location and design of developments that reduce amount of vehicle miles traveled, creating developments where jobs and services are accessible by foot or public transit, and promoting energy-efficient and water-efficient buildings and infrastructure.

Sustainable communities are generally a larger concept that tends to emanate from the city or municipality structure — an all-encompassing master plan that includes transportation, affordable housing, economic, environmental, and land-use components. Sustainable communities may coordinate their efforts with other communities in the region to share costs and increase impact. Incorporating the principles of sustainable development, smart growth, and green building, sustainable communities focus on addressing population growth, housing affordability, transportation needs, economic development, and the environment.

Next: Part II: Why is planning a sustainable community important, and how does it relate to the work of a housing authority?

With over a decade of experience working in the affordable housing industry, NMA consultant Nate Paufve has done everything from supervising a team of housing specialists to developing OIG responses, overseeing a document management team, serving as an internal auditor for PBCA operations in multiple states nationwide, and strategic planning related to Moderate Rehabilitation (Mod Rehab), project-based voucher, and housing choice voucher programs. He holds a B.A. in urban studies and an M.A. in public policy from the University of Chicago and has also worked extensively with nonprofit organizations and provided policy research on affordable housing programs.

NMA can assist your agency with PNA planning and energy audits. For more information, contact sales@nanmckay.com.

Topics: energy efficiency, green building, PNA, sustainable communities, Trainers and Consultants

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