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FAQ Friday: FAST Act Options

Posted by NMA on Feb 2, 2018 5:00:00 AM

q-and-a-standard.jpgQUESTION     We are confused about the rule that HUD published last month implementing the FAST Act. I thought that the law authorized triennial reexams but the rule doesn’t reflect that. Even in the years between “full” reexams it sounds like the PHA still has to apply a COLA to fixed income, adjust payment standards/utility allowances, etc. How does this compare to the streamlining final rule that was published a couple of years ago?

ANSWER     You’re correct that the FAST Actinterim final rule,” published in the Federal Register on December 12, does not authorize PHAs to completely bypass annual reexaminations for three years. Rather, it permits PHAs to conduct “full income recertifications” every three years for qualifying families. Other annual activities must still be conducted every year.

You’re also correct that the FAST Act partially duplicates an option available under the streamlining final rule, published in March 2016. HUD chose to implement the two rules separately, as explained in the streamlining rule:

HUD recognizes that prior to the issuance of this final rule, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or FAST Act, was signed into law. Section 78001 of that Act modified the 1937 Act to allow PHAs and owners to undergo full income recertification for families with 90 percent or more of their income from fixed-income sources every three years instead of annually. HUD believes that while the FAST Act provisions and the provisions contained in this rule are very similar, they offer different benefits; therefore, HUD is retaining the flexibilities in this final rule and will issue implementation regulations for the FAST Act separately.

Let’s take a look at the options for streamlining annual reexams in both rules. Under the streamlining final rule:

  • PHAs may choose to verify income from fixed income sources at admission and once every three years thereafter
  • A published cost of living adjustment (COLA) must be applied to the family’s fixed income in years two and three
  • All non-fixed income must be verified annually

Under the FAST Act:

  • PHAs may choose to verify income from fixed income sources at admission and once every three years thereafter.
  • A published cost of living adjustment (COLA) must be applied to the family’s fixed income in years two and three.
  • If the family receives at least 90 percent of its income from fixed income sources, the PHA may, but is not required to, verify non-fixed income in years two and three.
  • If less than 90 percent of income is from fixed income sources, non-fixed income must be verified annually.

 

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: PIH Alert, Q&A, Knowledge Base

FAQ Friday: VA Aid and Attendance Benefits

Posted by NMA on Jan 19, 2018 9:13:00 AM
FAQ Friday: VA Aid and Attendance Benefits

QUESTION     An applicant for assisted housing receives a pension from the VA. In addition to his pension he receives VA “aid and attendance” benefits. The veteran’s representative states that these payments are excluded federally but we cannot find an applicable reference in the HUD regulations. Are we supposed to include this income in the family’s annual income?

ANSWER     HUD has issued written guidance on the treatment of aid and attendance funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs. There is also a pending regulatory change which has not yet been implemented.

The current guidance is found in the FAQs for the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program:

4. Should VA Aid and Attendance and VA Housebound allowances be counted as income?

VA Aid and Attendance and VA Housebound allowances may be excluded under 24 CFR § 5.609(c)(4), which excludes amounts received by a family “specifically for, or in reimbursement of, the cost of medical expenses for any family member.” Live-in or periodic medical assistance and services of doctors and health care professionals are among the services that can be counted as medical expenses. The PHA should verify with the VA the amount received by the Veteran for Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits. The portion of the total benefit amount that the Veteran uses for medical expenses must be excluded from income. Any portion of the allowance not going towards such expenses would continue to be counted as income by the PHA when computing the family’s share of the rent.

A new exclusion is awaiting implementation under the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016 (HOTMA). Aid and attendance benefits will be excluded in their entirety when HOTMA is implemented, and this may be the basis of the applicant’s belief that the benefits are “federally excluded.” However, this and other HOTMA changes to income and rent determinations cannot be implemented until HUD has completed the formal rulemaking process. HUD has declined to estimate an effective date for the HOTMA changes. Here is an excerpt from a letter to executive directors dated September 26, 2016:

All of the other sections in HOTMA that impact the HCV and public housing programs require that HUD first issue a notice or regulation for the provision to become effective. Until HUD issues the applicable notices or regulations, your PHA may not implement those additional sections. This information will also be transmitted in the near future via a Federal Register notice.

We realize that many PHAs are eager to implement the flexibilities and other statutory changes provided under HOTMA, so please be assured that HUD is working diligently to develop and provide the necessary implementation guidance in a timely manner. If you have any questions, please send them to HOTMAquestions@hud.gov.

 

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: HOTMA, PIH Alert, Q&A, Knowledge Base

FAQ Friday: Port Returning to Initial PHA

Posted by NMA on Jan 5, 2018 8:50:51 AM
FAQ Friday: Port Returning to Initial PHA

QUESTION     We are not sure what to do in this situation. An HCV participant has been in the process of moving into our PHA’s jurisdiction for several months. Our PHA issued a voucher with an expiration date 30 days after the expiration date of the voucher the client received from the initial PHA. We later approved a 30-day extension of the voucher term at the client’s request, and the extension is about to expire.

The client has not submitted any requests for tenancy approval (RFTAs). She says that she has applied with several local landlords, who have rejected her due to a recent history of eviction. The client has decided to return to her original PHA and seek housing in its jurisdiction. She is requesting that we grant a 60-day extension to seek housing there. We are hesitant to do this since it ties up one of our vouchers. Is our PHA responsible for extensions in this situation?

ANSWER     No, the receiving PHA (in this case, your agency) is not responsible for extending the voucher term when a client exercising portability decides to return to the initial PHA or to seek housing in a third jurisdiction. While not addressed in the applicable regulations, HUD has issued guidance on the issue in Notice PIH 2016-09:

Family Decides Not to Lease in the Receiving PHA’s Jurisdiction. If an incoming family ultimately decides not to lease in the jurisdiction of the receiving PHA, the receiving PHA must refer the family back to the initial PHA. The voucher of record for the family is once again the voucher originally issued by the initial PHA, and the initial PHA’s policies apply. Any extensions of the initial PHA’s voucher to allow the family additional search time to return to the initial PHA’s jurisdiction or to move to another jurisdiction are at the discretion of the initial PHA. The initial PHA must apply its own policies on moves for families that decide not to use their voucher to port to another jurisdiction.

Once the participant has decided not to lease a unit in your jurisdiction, your agency is no longer responsible for voucher extensions. The initial agency will have to decide whether to extend its voucher to provide additional search time.

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: PIH Alert, Q&A, Knowledge Base

FAQ Friday: Social Security/SSI COLA

Posted by NMA on Dec 15, 2017 5:03:00 AM

q-and-a-standard.jpgQUESTION     I see that the Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced the 2018 cost of living adjustment (COLA). We are currently processing annual reexaminations which will be effective January 1, 2018. However, our clients have not yet received 2018 award letters for Social Security (SS) or SSI, and the EIV system is still showing the 2017 benefit amounts. Can we wait for updated documentation or must we apply the COLA beginning with January reexaminations?

ANSWER     Yes, you must apply the COLA beginning with January reexaminations which have not yet been completed. The SSA announced on October 13 that the Social Security and supplemental security income (SSI) benefits will increase 2 percent in 2018. HUD has issued guidance on applying the SSA COLA in Notice PIH 2012-10:

Effective the day after SSA has announced the COLA, PHAs are required to factor in the COLA when determining SS and SSI annual income for all annual reexaminations and interim reexaminations (in accordance with PHA-established policy) of family income which have not yet been completed and will be effective January 1st or later of the upcoming year.

To factor in the COLA, multiply the current benefit amount by the percentage increase. For example, imagine that you are processing a January reexam for Mr. Miller. The EIV printout shows current SS benefits of $1000 per month and Mr. Miller agrees with this amount. To project annual income for 2018:

  • Multiply the current benefit amount by the percentage increase: $1000 X 2% [or 0.02] (COLA rate) = $20 COLA
  • New gross SS benefit effective 01/01/2018 = $1020 ($1000 current benefit + $20 COLA)
  • Annual income effective 1/1/2018: $1020 X 12 = $12,240
  • Alternatively, you could multiply the current benefit by 102%

Document your calculation on the EIV report or case narrative. Leave a clear audit trail showing how you arrived at annual income shown on form HUD-50058.

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: PIH Alert, Program News and Notices, Q&A, Industry News, Knowledge Base

FAQ Friday: HCV Rent Increases

Posted by NMA on Dec 1, 2017 5:00:00 AM

Editor’s Note: Due to HUD’s recent publication of 2018 annual adjustment factors, we are reprising this FAQ from August 2015. The links have been updated for this year’s notice.

q-and-a-standard.jpg

QUESTION     You mentioned during a webinar that the only limit on rent increases in the HCV program is rent reasonableness. Our PHA restricts rent increases to the annual adjustment factors (AAFs) published by HUD. We have this policy in our administrative plan and have imposed this limit for years. We feel that this helps to control program costs and helps to control rents in the community as a whole. Why isn’t this permissible as long as it is stated in the administrative plan?

ANSWER     This is an example of a policy that was valid when written, but which is now obsolete. AAFs were used in the old certificate program to determine (or limit) owner rent increases. The certificate program came to an end 17 years ago. AAFs have never been used in the voucher program.

Each year HUD publishes a Federal Register notice discussing the AAFs. Here is an excerpt from this year’s notice, published November 8:

Housing Choice Voucher Program: AAFs are not used to adjust rents in the tenant-based or the project-based voucher programs.

Since agency policies must comply with regulatory requirements, PHAs do not have discretion to impose limits on rent increases in this manner. The applicable regulation is at 24 CFR 982.308(g):

The owner must notify the PHA of any changes in the amount of the rent to owner at least sixty days before any such changes go into effect, and any such changes shall be subject to rent reasonableness requirements.

The following is an excerpt from Section 12.5 of HUD’s HCV Guidebook:

INCREASES IN RENT TO OWNER
An owner may increase the unit rent any time an increase is allowed under the terms of the lease. The owner must give the PHA at least 60 days advance notice of any changes in the amount of rent to the owner. The allowed rent increase is the lesser of the following:

  • The reasonable rent as determined by the PHA; or
  • The amount requested by the owner.

Also please note the table in Chapter 1 of the guidebook, comparing the certificate and HCV programs:

Rent Increases:

CERTIFICATES: Annually on the anniversary date, the PHA uses annual adjustment factors published by HUD to approve rent increases which are subject to a rent reasonableness test.

HCV: Rent increases are not limited by the annual adjustment factor but are subject to a rent reasonableness test.

The current rule is intended to increase program participation by owners of properties in lower-poverty areas. The “market” rent is to be charged for both assisted and unassisted tenants.

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: PIH Alert, Program News and Notices, Q&A, rent calculation, Industry News, Knowledge Base

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