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Late yesterday HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) issued Notice PIH 2017-03, “HUD Guidance on Instituting and Enforcing Smoke-Free Public Housing Policies.” The notice follows December’s publication of the smoke-free final rule.
Subjects discussed in the guidance notice include implementation, PHA flexibility, and PHA policy options concerning use of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and designated smoking areas (DSAs). The notice also includes instructions for revisions to public housing leases and PHA plans.
The notice also encourages PHAs to adopt graduated enforcement mechanisms for violations of smoke-free policies. PHAs may not evict for a single incident of smoking.
On the subject of reasonable accommodations, the notice includes suggestions for smoke-free policies for residents with disabilities. Such measures could include offering the resident a transfer to a unit near an exit, to a unit on the ground floor, or to a unit in another development where DSAs are provided. However, a PHA may not permit continued smoking in restricted areas.
The notice concludes by encouraging PHAs to engage residents early in the development of smoke-free policies. Best practices have indicated that resident engagement in policy development, implementation, and enforcement are less likely to result in evictions.
Got questions about the smoke-free rule? Don’t miss Nan’s legislative update at the The Housing Conference this August in Boston, where she’ll discuss acts of Congress, regulation changes, and what’s ahead for 2017. Register now for the best rates!
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The final rule requires all PHAs to ban the use of prohibited tobacco products in living units, indoor common areas, and administrative offices. PHAs will have 18 months from the effective date of the final rule to implement smoke-free policies applicable to all indoor areas and to outdoor areas within 25 feet of buildings. PHAs may establish designated smoking areas or may ban smoking completely.
In the final version of the rule, HUD has clarified that the rule prohibits use of waterpipes (“hookahs”). Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) such as e-cigarettes are not prohibited under the rule, but PHAs may adopt policies banning them. PHAs that have already implemented voluntary smoke-free policies will need to update them only if their existing policies are not consistent with the minimum requirements of the final rule.
In a press release posted this morning, HUD Secretary Julián Castro commented on the final rule. Of the 1.2 million public housing units nationwide, 228,000 are currently smoke free. Once fully implemented, the smoke-free rule announced today would expand the impact to more than 940,000 public housing units, including more than 500,000 units inhabited by elderly residents and 760,000 children living in public housing.
In what appears to be a related development, HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes (OLHCHH) yesterday announced that it has scheduled a national stakeholder call with Secretary Castro. The call, which was announced in an email to the Healthy Homes mailing list, concerns “a major new step to protect the health and safety of our nation’s public housing residents.” It is scheduled for tomorrow, December 1, at 4 p.m. eastern time. Click here to RSVP for the call (use confirmation number 407550).
HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes (OLHCHH) has published a new 100-page action guide on establishing smoke-free public housing and multifamily properties. The authors provide the following summary:
HUD has encouraged the adoption of smoke-free policies for the past several years. In 2009 and 2012, HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing issued Notices PIH 2009-21 and PIH 2012-25, stating that HUD “strongly encourages PHAs to implement non-smoking policies in some or all of their public housing units.”
In September 2010, HUD’s Office of Housing issued a notice for owners/agents of federally subsidized private housing (later reissued as H 2012-22) encouraging the adoption of smoke-free policies in some or all of their properties. In 2012, HUD sent a smoke-free housing toolkit with background information and sample planning documents for implementation to directors of approximately 2,200 PHAs.
A major reason that HUD is committed to encouraging PHAs and property owners/agents of subsidized or market rate multifamily housing to implement smoke-free policies is that the movement of secondhand smoke between units cannot be controlled in multifamily buildings. Research has shown that ventilation and other air filtration technologies cannot eliminate the health risks caused by secondhand smoke exposure. HUD also supports smoke-free policies because they reduce property maintenance costs and the risk of fires.
One quarter of U.S. residents—approximately 79 million people—live in multifamily properties. This includes one-family houses attached to one or more other houses and buildings with two to 50 or more apartments. Even though the majority of people do not allow smoking in their homes, 36 percent regularly are exposed to secondhand smoke.
In the past 15 years, more than 500 PHAs throughout the nation have adopted and implemented smoke-free policies. The rate of adoption of smoke-free policies accelerated quickly following the publication of an official notice by HUD that strongly encouraged PHAs to adopt smoke-free policies. Also, a growing number of nationwide property management firms are going smoke-free across all properties.
The action guide is divided into five sections that cover reasons to adopt a smoke-free policy, real-life examples of smoke-free policies, recommended steps, and frequently asked questions. You'll find the guide on this page at the HUD website along with smoke-free toolkits for PHAs and residents.
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