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Q&A: Where are the HUD letters to EDs?

Posted by NMA on May 12, 2016 9:48:20 AM

hands-raised.jpgQUESTION    Recently I saw a reference to a "letter to executive directors" from HUD. I am the ED in my agency and I never received this letter. Are they talking about a paper letter? Where can I find letters to EDs on HUD’s website?

ANSWER    In the past couple of years, HUD has issued several important pieces of guidance in the format of letters to executive directors. Some of the notices contain implementation requirements for new rules or policies (for example, a September letter added 30 days to the portability billing deadline for the HCV program). The HUD letters are transmitted via email and usually they are not posted to HUD’s website.

Some recent examples of letters to executive directors include:

So where does HUD get email addresses for PHA executive directors? The addresses are pulled from the HA Profiles module in HUD’s Inventory Management System/Public and Indian Housing Information Center (IMS/PIC). The contact information is entered by PHA staff and must be updated as needed. The HA Profiles page includes links to a "walkthrough" guide for using the module and a set of frequently asked questions.

If your agency is not receiving these important emails from HUD, there could be several reasons:

  • The email address in HA Profiles no longer exists
  • The email address exists but an employee has left and no one is checking his or her email
  • The email inbox is full
  • The emails are being intercepted by a firewall or anti-spam program

We recommend that you first check the information in the HA Profiles module to make sure that the email address under the Contact tab is current. Next verify that the email inbox can receive mail, and finally, check the settings for your anti-spam software.

Are you a PIH Alert subscriber? Every Friday, the PIH Alert includes one frequently asked question (FAQ) submitted by our readers. Sign up today for a free 30-day trial subscription! Email sales@nanmckay.com to get started. To submit your question, email Annie Stevenson at annie@nanmckay.com with the subject line "FAQ Friday."

Topics: final rule, FMR, IMS/PIC, portability, Q&A

Government shutdown: What you need to know

Posted by BEMuser on Oct 1, 2013 9:23:24 AM

Many PHAs are asking, "What does the shutdown mean to our agency and the families we serve?" Yesterday, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) posted a 67-page contingency plan which provides some guidance to PHAs on the impacts of a lapse in appropriations due to the federal government shutdown.

According to the contingency plan, PHAs will continue to be able to access HUD's Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) secure systems, such as the Voucher Management System (VMS), the PIH Information Center (PIC) system, the Enterprise Income Verification (EIV) system, and the Line of Credit Control Systems (LOCCS), among others. However, although HUD's PIH systems will be largely available, PIH staff and contractors will not be available to answer questions regarding the systems. RAD applications will continue to be accepted, but they will not be reviewed until after the shutdown.

HCV housing assistance payments and administrative fee funding for the month of October are scheduled to be disbursed to PHAs according to the regular schedule, but any November funding is contingent upon the outcome of the government shutdown. Any public housing operating subsidy or capital funds that have already been obligated through LOCCS can be drawn down, but additional funding is also contingent on the shutdown. As a result of the funding uncertainty, PHAs should carefully monitor their financial situations throughout the government shutdown.

  • PIH staff will not be attending any meetings or conducting monitoring or technical assistance visits at PHAs
  • REAC inspections will not be conducted
  • PIH staff will not be available to answer any non-emergency questions from PHAs, residents, or others
  • Contact information for PIH emergency operations during the government shutdown will be posted on the HUD website

For further details on the portion of the contingency plan that concerns programs administered by PIH, see pages 7 and 57–63. NMA will continue to update the blog as more information on the government shutdown becomes available.

Topics: appropriations, EIV, government shutdown, IMS/PIC, LOCCS, RAD, VMS

Meet me in San Diego

Posted by NMA on Aug 14, 2013 11:45:58 AM

John McKayI think we can all agree that the past year has been one of the most challenging in recent memory. Up until the last moment, many of us didn't really think that sequestration would go through. But it did, and our nation's housing authorities rose to the test.

For the upcoming NMA Housing Conference and GoSection8 User Conference, we've brought together a diverse group of speakers and industry experts to provide insight on a broad range of topics relevant to those of us facing budget cutbacks under sequestration, including:

2013 NMA Housing Conference

I hope you'll be able to attend the inaugural NMA Housing Conference, now only a few weeks away — and when you do, come on up and say hi! I look forward to sharing strategies for success.

John McKay has been with NMA since 1998, and has served as chief executive officer of the company since 2007. Prior to his appointment as CEO, he was vice president of operations, spearheading the creation of the new consulting and technology services departments. This initiative introduced the first fully functional NMA Performance Portal to the affordable housing market.

Mr. McKay brings his knowledge of housing regulations and industry best practices into his role as project executive on many of NMA’s contracts with large housing authority clients and HUD. He has assessed, analyzed, and provided feedback to some of the country’s most well-run private and public organizations.

Topics: EIV, IMS/PIC, NMA Performance Portal, rent reasonableness, sequestration, sustainable communities, The Housing Conference, VMS

Join NMA for our national housing conference in San Diego

Posted by NMA on Mar 12, 2013 10:10:44 AM

Registration for the first-ever NMA Housing Conference is now open, and session information has been announced.

2013 NMA Housing Conference
and GoSection8 User Conference

September 9–10 in San Diego, CA

Sign up now and receive 20% off Blended Occupancy Management and HCV Program Management!

Choose one of these new certification classes to attend directly following the conference, and make it a complete week of learning in beautiful San Diego on the bay.

Visit our website to register

With four tracks of concurrent sessions, you'll enjoy the opportunity to explore two very full days of expert panels, round-table discussions, free consulting, and networking with key players in the industry. You'll also receive a certificate of achievement for attending an entire track (choose from executive, regulatory, financial, and GoSection8).

Keynote Speaker

Leading at a Higher Level: Creating High-Performing Organizations
Presenter, Ann Phillips of the Ken Blanchard Companies

Executive Leadership for Performance Excellence

Ensuring the Best Performance for the Money: Quality Assurance from the Executive Level
Presenters, John McKay, Dorian Jenkins, Michael Petragallo, Andrew Denicola

This session will focus on how successful housing executives ensure excellent staff performance and the overall cost efficiency of their agency by applying performance management metrics and a proactive quality assurance approach. We will discuss methods to ensure staff performance, covering all personnel from line staff to finance and inspection, as well as provide information about cost-saving measures to take back to your agency.

Managing a Public Agency with a Corporate Sector Approach
Presenter, Cydney Jones

Applying private sector techniques to your agency doesn't have to mean losing focus of its social mission. This informative session will provide PHA leaders with tools and insight to develop an organizational culture of performance excellence, accountability, fiscal responsibility, and organizational sustainability. The session will provide tips, tools, and guidance used in the corporate sector to develop and maintain high performance and fiscal prudence within the public sector environment.

How to Improve the Quality and Value of Your Services at a Reduced Cost
Presenter, Mark Frater, President, LeanFirm

Attend this session and learn how to employ a collaborative methodology at your housing authority by adopting lean principles. Discussion topics will include developing a highly effective path to maximizing the talents and contributions of your agency, facilitating motivation, productivity, customer satisfaction, and fiscal control. In today's era of budget cuts, it's more important than ever to improve the timeliness and quality of services throughout your housing agency by eliminating waste and inefficiency.

Don't Waste Strategy Time on Goal Setting!
Presenter, Eric Kaufmann, President, Sagatica LLC

Most strategy sessions are merely operational — a missed leadership opportunity. Eric Kaufmann guides leadership teams across the country and coaches corporate CEOs. He will present the way to prepare a strategic action plan that becomes a useful resource to accomplish your agency’s goals within limited funding. You will discover the six deadly mistakes of strategy planning. Ask the right questions, set the right measurements, and get to work!

PHA Resiliency in the Post-Sequestration World
Presenter, Kevin Sheriff, ERS Senior Manager, Deloitte & Touche LLP

This session will explore the short- and long-term future of PHAs' roles in their communities and how they can survive and thrive in the face of dwindling federal resources and ongoing chatter about consolidation. We will discuss strategies that PHAs can explore beyond the traditional methods (e.g. mixed finance, alternative revenue-generating activities, energy performance contracts) to recast their organizations for sustainable, long-term success.

Regulatory Knowledge for Smart Management

Why Your Agency Should Be Taking a Second Look at RAD
Presenter, Carrol Vaughan

The RAD demonstration program is a unique opportunity for housing authorities to convert their at-risk public housing to long-term Section 8 rental assistance contracts. In this session, we’ll cover the latest information on the program and discuss why your housing authority should take a serious look at whether RAD would work for your agency. We’ll also hear from staff at a large housing authority on why their agency is considering submitting an application, and review the thought process involved in making the decision to apply.

Legislative Update
Presenter, Nan McKay and Terry Provance

What's the latest news in the industry? In this session we'll review the most important notices released in 2013, any breaking news that you need to be aware of, and what we see coming down the pipe for 2014.

Fair Housing/Civil Rights Reviews: Are You Prepared?
Presenter, Annie Stevenson

Using HUD’s civil rights review checklist, we’ll discuss fair housing requirements for the public housing and HCV programs. Topics will include limited English proficiency (LEP), reasonable accommodations, alternative communication methods, and more. Don’t miss this opportunity to prepare for civil rights monitoring.

EIV, PIC, VMS: Are These Systems Costing Your Agency Money?
Presenters, Dorian Jenkins and Raymond Buhr

In this session, NMA staff will go over HUD's reporting requirements and provide tips to help your agency properly utilize Enterprise Income Verification (EIV), maximize your PIH Information Center (PIC) reporting rate, simplify the Voucher Management System (VMS), and ensure you aren't losing precious housing dollars.

Sustainability: Cost-Effective Renovation
Presenter, Jay Ortenzo

Are you tired of hearing phrases like, “We have to do more with less”? Truth is, we have to plan and be smart about the way we use our resources. While there’s always a cost associated with any renovation we do, labor, materials, overhead, profit, bad design, poor product choice, and installation mistakes cost your agency more than necessary. This session will focus on how to ensure you're getting the best renovation work for the money.

Financial Strategy for Maximizing Resources

The Impact of the Treasury's Cash Management Requirements on the HCV Program
Presenter, Ray Adair

This session will explain the impact that the implementation of the Treasury's cash management requirements will have on HCV housing assistance payment (HAP) revenue recognition, the formation of the HCV program reserve, net restricted assets (NRA) reporting, and interest earned on invested NRA balances.

Reporting Public Housing Operating Fund Activity on the FDS
Presenter, Ron Urlaub

This session will cover how new public housing and mixed-finance projects are created in the Financial Data Schedule (FDS), general project-level reporting for both conventional public housing projects and mixed-finance projects, and common public housing operating fund reporting issues on the FDS.

Using HUD's Two-Year Forecasting Tool for HAP Expense Planning
Presenter, Ray Adair

HUD has developed an Excel forecasting tool (posted with a user guide on the HCV home page) to assist PHAs in the financial management of the HCV program. The focus of this session will be on reviewing the funding available to support HAP (annual budget authority, net restricted assets, program reserves, and unrestricted net assets) and how to make the best use of the two-year forecasting tool. We will review the major sections of the tool, as well as what data is needed to use the tool and where to find it. In addition, you will learn how to use the tool to run "what if" scenarios, and how to use the tool's dashboard to determine whether leasing is within available funding.

FASS-PH System Updates
Presenter, Ray Adair

This session will explain the recent and planned REAC Financial Assessment System for public housing agencies (FASS-PH) system updates that impact financial reporting on the Financial Data Schedule (FDS) for both the public housing and HCV programs.

Reconciling VMS Reporting to the FDS
Presenter, Ron Urlaub

This session will review which fields on the Voucher Management System (VMS) are expected to tie or come close to the values reported on the Financial Data Schedule (FDS).

The Ins and Outs of CFP Reporting and Close-Out
Presenter, Ray Adair

This session will focus on how budget line items (BLI) are used for budgetary control of the Capital Fund Program (CFP), CFP eligible and ineligible expenses, Financial Data Schedule (FDS) reporting of the CFP and the Capital Fund Financing Program at the project level, and CFP close-out.

How Go8's Technology Can Be a Cost-Saving Resource for Your Agency

Introduction to GoSection8
GoSection8 is the largest rental-listing service for the Section 8 housing market. We service families, landlords, and public housing agencies across the United States. Hundreds of thousands of tenants and landlords nationwide benefit from our programs.

Don't Spend Money on Software: We Have the Solution
In an environment of eminent budget cuts, learn how Go8's free listing service can save you time and money.

GoSection8 Software Demonstration
Since our inception in 2004, GoSection8 (Go8) has been an effective resource for housing agencies across the country. Our software streamlines the rent reasonable process, automatically integrating comparable data and generating HUD-compliant rent reasonable reports. Go8 will save your staff valuable time, eliminating the need for mining data or contracting with an outside vendor to purchase comparables.

Best Practices of Different-Size Agencies and Their Savings with Go8 Software
A detailed study of various-sized agencies with different asking rents, approved rents, and annual savings received by implementing the Go8 software. We offer an audit-proven and efficient way to determine rent reasonableness as required by HUD.

The Growth of Technology and Its Impact on Rent Determination
Go8 offers on-demand mobile applications and software integration. Users can perform rent reasonable comparisons on-site, in real time, using their current housing software — no need to log into your Go8 account.

How to Focus on Landlord Retention and Participation: Why It's Important in This Economy and with Budget Cuts
Landlord outreach and participation are more important than ever. We will discuss current market trends and automated marketing solutions and review Go8's HCV Landlord Participation Index.

Educate Your Staff: How to Do Certifications, Review Annual Savings, and Analyze Reports
Learn how Go8 can help your agency do more with less effort. This training module will ensure you are maximizing the Go8 software and performing rent reasonable determinations correctly.

How to Get the Most out of Your Go8 Software: Review New Features, Upgrades, and Reports
Find out about Go8's newest features and give us your feedback. We have been busy building new improvements to our site to make the user experience even better.

Customized Search Results for Your Families Based on Their Income and Your Jurisdiction
Go8's affordability calculator tailors search results based on a family's income, using payment standards and the landlord's utility schedule.

Deconcentration and Its Impact on Rent Reasonableness
Learn how to improve your agency's SEMAP scores. Go8's listings can be customized to exclude HUD-determined low-income qualified census tracks.

Are You Using Asking Rents or Actual Rents? How It Affects the Open Market
We will demonstrate the surprising difference between asking rent and actual rent.

Go8's Custom Listing Service
We manage and maintain your landlord's listings and also offer a mobile platform to view tenant leads.

Registrations for the NMA Housing Conference and GoSection8 User Conference are now 20% off when you register before July 15, 2013. Sign up online or email sales@nanmckay.com for more information.

Topics: blended occupancy, capital fund, EIV, executive management, fair housing, FASS-PH, IMS/PIC, mixed financing, program management, RAD, rent reasonableness, sequestration, sustainable communities, The Housing Conference, VMS

Achieving high performance in the HCV program: Tip #4

Posted by NMA on Jan 15, 2013 1:59:12 PM

Tip #4: Create a caseload and accuracy plan with specific performance standards.

Your caseload and accuracy plan should provide a permanent distribution of caseloads so that staff are assigned a caseload and so that the distribution results in equal caseloads for each level of staff. The following plan also provides for a graduated caseload and accuracy plan for new employees to ramp up to a full caseload. The overall objective is to have matching, accurate data between PIC and your housing software, with no backlog in either PIC or the housing software.

Staff identified below are in Housing Specialist positions managing a caseload which they're assigned after initial lease-up through termination. They prepare the initial paperwork and data entry for moves, inspections, and rent reasonableness, but the activities for those functions are handled by other staff. Their primary responsibility is reexaminations and interim adjustments. They will also handle terminations.

The recommended annual caseload for experienced staff for reexaminations is 450. Since they don't have to handle moves, they're expected to handle up to 45 cases per month. The number of reexaminations per month may vary due to the geographical split of the caseload. Reexaminations should be assigned only to the reexamination staff, regardless of whether there's a reexamination in conjunction with a move.

This plan outlines at what point a newly hired staff person is expected to take on the full caseload.

Level 1: Initial Training Plan with Small Caseload

The first full month after hire date, the employee will be working on sample cases. During this period, they will receive additional classroom training and be paired with a more experienced staff person to assist them in completing their sample cases. Their "mentoring partner" (the more experienced staff person with whom they're paired) is allowed to assign them various duties to assist in processing their own caseload as a learning experience. These duties can include everything from observing an interview to copying paperwork. The training coordinator and the supervisor will also begin providing on-the-job training.

The new employee is assigned sample cases from a library of 30 cases. Test databases are set up for new employees to use. Each case will have housing software data entry, calculation, and forms to complete, so that the entire function is performed on each case. Answers to the case will be included. New employees work on these cases on their own, and may request assistance from the mentoring partner if they're having trouble completing the case and getting the correct answer. The employee must complete the 30 test cases at this level. Because they're for learning purposes, all cases must be completed with 100% accuracy.

Level 2: Caseload of 15

The employee will be at level 2, with a caseload of 15, for one month. During this time, the accuracy of the employee's cases will be monitored by the supervisor, and the employee will be provided with feedback and instructions on corrections where needed. An accuracy rate of 65% is required for cases completed this month. All cases will be quality-controlled prior to HAP payment.

The mentoring partner will still be available for assistance on cases, as will the training coordinator and the computer trainer (when they're not engaged in training activities). The employee will be encouraged to complete their own active cases and assist others with their cases, participate in training, or otherwise be effectively utilized with the supervisor's direction.

Level 3: Caseload of 30

The employee will be at level 3, with a caseload of 30, for one month. The same mentoring staff will be available to assist, but the assistance required should be minimal. An accuracy rate of 80% is required for cases completed this month. At least 50% of cases will be quality-controlled prior to HAP payment. The employee will be encouraged to complete their own cases and assist others with their cases, participate in training, or otherwise be effectively utilized with the supervisor's direction.

Level 4: Caseload of 45

After the completion of the three-month caseload schedule described above, the employee will be assigned a full caseload of 45 per month. A level of 95% accuracy at the submission of the case will be expected. An accuracy rate of 95% is required for cases completed this month. At least 50% of cases will be quality-controlled prior to HAP payment for the first month at this level. After the first month, the employee must retain at least an average of 95% accuracy.

Accelerated Caseloads

If, in the supervisor's and employee's determination, the employee can handle an increased caseload during any period above, additional cases may be assigned to the employee. The employee may also act as a mentor to other new staff.

Certification

The employee will complete either a Housing Specialist class encompassing eligibility, rent calculations, and occupancy, or the employee may be assigned to complete online classes on these subjects. The employee must then achieve a passing score of 80% on the Housing Specialist test, either in the classroom or online, to continue employment. One test retake will be allowed within 45 days of the Housing Specialist test. This certification must be achieved by the end of level 2.

Case Assignment

Caseload assignment will be done by the (specify a position here). Only supervisors will be allowed to change a caseload assignment and must justify any changes each month.

Regular cases will be distributed by zip codes by team. Within the team, the supervisor assigns cases with the objective of complying with caseload levels identified above, and with the goal in mind of achieving a nearly equal staff caseload within each level.

Backlog cases older than three months will generally be assigned to level 4 staff as needed, and will be nearly equally distributed to this group of staff. Backlog cases due within the prior three months will be assigned to level 3 staff and above as needed.

Cases in housing software but not PIC will be assigned to PIC staff or to the supervisor to resolve. A supervisor will be assigned the responsibility of ensuring that these cases are completed in a timely manner. The most likely reason for cases to be in this category is that "hold" codes have not been resolved. If the family is no longer on the program, there must be an End of Participation (EOP) entered in PIC. If the family has decided not to move and has stayed in the same unit, or if the family has moved to another unit, the "hold" code will be removed and any required updating to the record will be completed.

Correction of Quality-Controlled Cases

The employee is responsible for correcting all mistakes in his/her quality-controlled files within three business days after the notification of the errors.

Next: Achieving high performance in the HCV program: Tip #5

While serving as executive director of a Minnesota housing authority, Nan McKay started one of the nation’s first Section 8 programs. The agency was subsequently honored with a HUD award as one of 13 outstanding Section 8 programs in the country.

Founder and president of Nan McKay and Associates, she has devoted the past two years to redesigning NMA’s HCV Executive Management course, as well as rewriting the HCV Executive Management Master Book with Bill Caltabiano. The tips and systems described above are thoroughly explored in both, with many forms available on a CD.

Did you know that NMA is the only IACET-approved training and certification company serving the affordable housing industry? Read more on our website.

Topics: eligibility, executive management, IACET, IMS/PIC, occupancy, online learning, quality control, rent calculation

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