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Ensuring up-to-date policies

Posted by Kaylene Holvenstot on Jul 11, 2019 7:15:00 AM

The importance of updating PHA policies

HUD issues new regulations, notices, and guidance on an ongoing basis, and PHAs are expected to stay abreast of these changes to remain in compliance and avoid audit findings. However, making sure your agency’s policy documents are in line with HUD can be a daunting, time-consuming task—not only do you need to know what’s changed and why, but you must also revise your policies accordingly.

PHAs who are out of compliance—depending on the reason—may be subject to monitoring and sanctions, or worse, lose out on program funding. Fair housing complaints can result from a lack of clear and current policies, and in the Housing Choice Voucher program, some incorrect policies can affect SEMAP as well.

Fortunately, there’s a solution. Our model policies and revision services take the guesswork out of keeping your policies up-do-date and in compliance, providing you with expert guidance in a timesaving, user-friendly format.

NMA’s Model Policy Revisions

This July, NMA will be releasing the 2019 revisions of our Model Administrative Plan and Model Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policy (ACOP). For this year’s revisions, these model policy documents contain updates for:

  • Notice PIH 2018-01 on the voluntary adoption of the use of Small Area Fair Market Rents (SAFMRs)
  • Notice PIH 2019-09 on the treatment of ABLE Accounts
  • Notice PIH 2019-11, which requires PHAs to publish and update public housing over-income limits in the ACOP
  • Notice PIH 2018-18, which updated HUD’s Verification Hierarchy
  • Notice PIH 2018-19, which established minimum heating standards in public housing
  • Notice PIH 2018-24 on verifying Social Security numbers, Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, and the effective use of the EIV Identity Verification Report
  • Other clarifications and modifications to make sure the content is user-friendly, current, and in compliance with all HUD regulations and guidance

In other words, when you subscribe to the NMA Model Admin Plan or ACOP, we do the heavy lifting of updating your policies for you—potentially saving your agency hundreds of hours of work.

For each area in which your agency has discretion or flexibility, NMA model policies provide recommended language. Also, the accompanying instruction guide offers important points to consider for each policy and customizable policy choices so that you can choose the best policy to suit your agency’s needs.

All of our model policy documents cite and describe the most up-to-date HUD regulations and other requirements in detail, which presents your agency with a solid foundation in policymaking. Further, when you subscribe to the revision service, you can rest assured that your policies remain current with HUD’s most recent changes every year.

The new NMA revisions website

Remaining up to date with a subscription to the NMA Model Administrative Plan or Model ACOP revision service is now easier than ever. Last year we went completely digital with our model policy revisions, moving access to a new website, and this year we’re making our Master Book revisions available through the site as well.

On the new revisions site, each policy or Master Book revision to which an agency subscribes is available for digital download all in one convenient location. This not only eliminates the need for awkward discs or drives, but also allows subscribers to access their revisions online immediately after they are finalized.

Should you miss a revision, the site provides access to the two previous years’ revisions as well, in addition to providing access to other added features such as our searchable CFRs.

Tools like our model policies and their revision services are designed to ensure that you always have the most accurate and up-to-date information. Through these and our other products and services, we at NMA will always strive to find ways to assist you in the successful administration of your housing programs—both now and through whatever changes may come.

 

Learn more about  NMA's model policies

Find NMA's model  policy revisions here

 

Topics: books and revision services, EIV, over-income families, SAFMR

What to know about HOTMA's new income limits

Posted by Samantha Sowards on Aug 7, 2018 1:00:00 PM

On July 26, 2018, HUD published Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016: Final Implementation of Public Housing Income Limits in the Federal Register, which placed an income limitation on public housing tenancy. The rule requires that after a family’s income has exceeded 120 percent of area median income (AMI), or a different limitation established by the Secretary based on local housing costs, for two consecutive years, the PHA must either:

  • Terminate the family’s tenancy within 6 months of the second income determination; or
  • Charge the family a rent equal to the greater of the:
    • Applicable fair market rent
    • Amount of monthly subsidy for the unit, including amounts from the operating and capital fund

For annual or interim recertifications performed on or after the applicable date of the notice (September 24, 2018), the PHA must determine whether the family’s income exceeds the applicable HUD-published over-income limit. If so, the PHA must document the family’s file. If, 12 consecutive months from the annual or interim recertification, the family’s income continues to exceed the over-income limit, the PHA must notify the family in writing that their income has exceeded the over-income limit for one year, and that if the family’s income continues to exceed the over-income limit for the next 12 consecutive months, the family will be subject to the PHA’s over-income policies. The PHA may not exempt any public housing families from the over-income limitation.

If the family’s income continues to exceed the over-income limit for another 12 consecutive months, the family will either experience an increase in rent or be subject to termination after 6 months, depending on PHA policy. HUD will issue a notice detailing how these new rent policies will be implemented.

Note, the time period is two consecutive years. If the family’s income is reduced below the over-income limit at any time, these policies no longer apply. If the family subsequently experiences an increase that again causes their income to be at or above the over-income limit, the 2-year period starts over.

This notice does not apply to PHAs operating fewer than 250 public housing units that are renting to families with income exceeding the over-income limit, if the PHA is renting to those families because no income-eligible families are on the PHA’s waiting list.

Important things to note from the notice include:

  • HUD will publish the over-income limits. The PHA does not have to calculate them.
  • PHAs must complete changes to the PHA Plan (if applicable) and the ACOP no later than six months from the effective date of the notice.
  • The PHA will need to develop a tracking system for over-income families to monitor the one and two-year time periods.
  • Increases in the over-income limit may cause a previously over-income family to be under the over-income limit.
  • Over-income policies apply to both annual and interim recertifications.

HUD will issue additional guidance on the following:

  • The calculation of a unit’s monthly subsidy
  • Whether utility allowances apply to the calculation of rent under these options
  • The requirement to report the number of over-income families and the number of families on the waiting list
  • How PHAs are supposed to track over-income families
  • How to notify familiesGet help updating your ACOP

Topics: books and revision services, HOTMA, income limits, over-income families, PIH notices

HUD Issues Guidance on New PH Income Limit

Posted by Annie Stevenson on Jul 26, 2018 12:14:24 PM

Today in the Federal Register, HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) published a notice titled “Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016: Final Implementation of Public Housing Income Limit.” The 5-page notice’s “applicable date” is September 24, 2018.

As explained in the notice, the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016 (HOTMA) imposes an income limit on public housing residents. The law applies to families whose income has exceeded 120 percent of the area median income (AMI) for two consecutive years. PHAs must either terminate the tenancies of such families within six months of the second income determination or must charge the family a monthly rent equal to the greater of (1) the applicable fair market rent, or (2) the amount of monthly subsidy for the unit including amounts from the operating and capital fund, as determined by regulations.

For purposes of the notice, the income limit established by HOTMA will be referred to as the ‘‘over-income limit.’’ HUD may adjust the applicable percentage of AMI above or below 120 percent based on housing costs in the PHA’s jurisdiction.

Highlights of the notice include:

  • The over-income limit does not apply to PHAs operating fewer than 250 public housing units that are renting to families with income exceeding the over-income limit, if the PHAs are renting to those families because there are no income-eligible families on the PHA’s waiting list.
  • Each PHA must submit a report annually to HUD about the number of families residing in public housing with incomes exceeding the over-income limit and the number of families on the waiting lists for admission to public housing projects. Such reports must be publicly available.
  • The existing regulation at 24 Code of Federal Regulations 960.261, which authorizes discretionary termination of tenancies of families whose incomes exceed the applicable income limits for admission to the program, remains in effect.
  • HUD intends to provide guidance on how to notify families, track over-income families, and report into HUD systems.

PHAs must revise their admissions and continued occupancy policies (ACOPs) to comply with today’s notice. Revisions to the PHA’s annual plan may be required if implementation of the rule constitutes a significant amendment. Policies must include the imposition of an over-income limit in the program, all instances of when the two-year timeframe begins, and notification requirements. Policy and plan revisions must be completed no later than six months after the effective date of the notice (by March 24, 2019).

Finally, the notice describes implementation steps as follows:

  • When the PHA becomes aware, through an annual reexamination or an interim reexamination for an increase in income, that a family’s income exceeds the applicable income limit, the PHA must document that the family exceeds the threshold to compare with the family’s income a year later.
  • If, one year after the initial determination by the PHA that a family’s income exceeds the over-income limit, the family’s income continues to exceed the over-income limit, the PHA must provide written notification to the family that their income has exceeded the over-income limit for one year, and that if the family’s income continues to exceed the over-income limit for the next 12 consecutive months, the family will be subject to either a higher rent or termination of tenancy based on the PHA’s policies.
  • If, however, a PHA discovers through an annual or interim reexamination that a previously over-income family has income that is now below the over-income limit, the family is no longer subject to these provisions. The family is entitled to a new two-year grace period if the family’s income once again exceeds the over-income limit.

Today’s notice does not address the following issues, which will be covered in subsequent notices:

  • PHA determination of the amount of monthly subsidy for a unit
  • The requirement to submit an annual report on the number of over-income families and the number of families on the public housing waiting lists

Questions may be directed to HUD program analyst Todd Thomas or to HOTMAquestions@hud.gov.

Get help updating your ACOP

Topics: books and revision services, HOTMA, income limits, over-income families, PIH notices

HUD publishes HOTMA implementation guidance

Posted by NMA on Oct 25, 2016 12:05:11 PM

HOTMA

Yesterday in the Federal Register, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published the initial implementation guidance for the Housing Opportunity through Modernization Act (HOTMA).

The guidance sets forth the statutory provisions effective immediately under HOTMA, and the actions that may or should be taken now in order to comply with those changes, in addition to identifying the provisions that are not effective until HUD subsequently issues a notice or regulation to implement them.

As specified in the guidance, among the HOTMA provisions that are effective upon enactment, or otherwise in effect, are the following:

  • Reasonable accommodation payment standards. HOTMA allows PHAs to establish a payment standard of up to 120 percent of fair market rent (FMR) without HUD approval as a reasonable accommodation for a person with a disability. Because the streamlining rule previously provided PHAs with this flexibility, no action is required to implement this provision.
  • Establishment of FMR. This provision changes how HUD publishes FMRs and the procedures for comment and requests for reevaluation. Additionally, HOTMA provides that in the housing choice voucher (HCV) program, no PHA is required as a result of a reduction in the FMR to reduce the payment standard of a family continuing to reside in a unit under HAP contract at the time the FMR was reduced. Should PHAs choose to use the higher payment standard for the family’s subsidy calculation, this must be specified in the administrative plan. HUD’s FMRs for 2017 already reflect the new procedures, and HUD will issue additional guidance with regards to payment standards in the future.
  • Family Unification Program (FUP) for children aging out of foster care. HOTMA revises the length of the term that an FUP-eligible youth may receive FUP assistance from 18 to 36 months, in addition to revising the eligibility requirements for FUP-eligible youth. Changes to the FUP program were effective upon implementation of HOTMA and PHAs were made aware of the new provision by means of a letter to FUP PHA executive directors on August 29, 2016. Further details can be found in today’s guidance.
  • Preference for United States citizens or nationals. This section applies to Guam only. The provisions were effective upon enactment of HOTMA and the details can be found within today’s guidance.
  • Exception to PHA resident board member requirement. Certain jurisdictions, as specified in the guidance, are excepted from the resident board member requirement. While effective upon implementation of HOTMA, this exception has already been effective for a number of years through various appropriations acts.
  • Inclusion of PHAs and local development authorities in Emergency Solutions grants. HOTMA authorized local governments receiving these grants to sub-award all or some of those funds to PHAs and local redevelopment authorities. The provision was effective upon implementation of HOTMA, although HUD does intend to issue further guidance on the matter.
  • Inclusion of Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP) in certain fraud and abuse measures. This provision considers DHAP a HUD program for the purpose of income verifications. Like other provisions described in the notice, it has previously been in effect through appropriations acts for a number of years.
  • Energy efficiency requirements under the Self-Help Homeownership Program (SHOP). While this provision was effective upon enactment of HOTMA, changes will be reflected in the future SHOP notice of funding availability (NOFA), where more information will also be provided.
  • Formula and terms for allocations to prevent homelessness for individuals living with HIV or AIDS. This provision makes several changes to the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program. They apply to FY 2017 funds and HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD) will issue further guidance on how the changes will affect future funding.

As mentioned above, today’s guidance also specifies several other pieces of HOTMA that will require further rulemaking or guidance in order to become effective. In other words, PHAs may not apply these provisions until HUD issues a rule or a notice addressing them. Because they are not immediately effective, they are summarized in brief below, although further details can be found in today’s guidance:

  • Changes regarding initial inspections in HCV units
  • Changes on the enforcement of housing quality standards (HQS) in HCV units
  • Changes regarding the frequency of income reviews
  • Changes on income reviews in project-based housing, in addition to changes on project-based assistance in general
  • Limitations on public housing tenancy for over-income families
  • Limitations on eligibility for assistance based on assets
  • Changes regarding PHA-owned units
  • Revisions to requirements regarding the public housing capital and operating funds
  • Changes regarding the use of vouchers for manufactured housing
  • Modifications of FHA requirements for mortgage insurance for condominiums
  • Changes regarding the definition of geographic area in the Continuum of Care program
  • Changes regarding HOPWA allocations

Got questions about HOTMA? All of NMA's HCV classes have been updated for the new payment standard rules. Register at least 45 days in advance for most seminars and you’ll receive a 10 percent discount. (The discount does not apply to seminars hosted by housing authorities or associations.)

Topics: capital fund, disaster programs, energy efficiency, FMR, HOTMA, HQS, inspections, operating subsidy, over-income families, reasonable accommodation, rent calculation, streamlining, voucher reform legislation

Senate passes HOTMA

Posted by NMA on Jul 15, 2016 12:20:35 PM

Senate passes HOTMA

Last night the Senate voted to approve the Housing Opportunity through Modernization Act of 2016 (HOTMA). The bill, which was passed by the House of Representatives in February, is expected to be signed into law next week. The bill has received widespread support from industry groups and advocacy organizations.

The new law contains a number of changes to program rules for the public housing and housing choice voucher (HCV) programs, homeless and veteran programs, and the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program.

Here is a brief synopsis of major HOTMA changes. Remember that HUD must complete the formal rulemaking process before changes take effect.

Revisions to the calculation of annual and adjusted income

  • After the initial year of assistance, prior-year income use is mandatory. Adjustments will be available to reflect current income
  • Exclusion of imputed asset income, unless net assets exceed $50,000
  • Increase in the allowance for elderly and disabled families from $400 to $525
  • Deduction for medical expenses which exceed 10 percent of annual income (changed from 3 percent)
    • Hardship exemptions required

Changes impacting the public housing and HCV programs

  • Requirement to provide a preference or priority for financial assistance to U.S. citizens or nationals before any alien who is otherwise eligible for assistance
  • Revisions to inspection requirements for the HCV program, including authorization for permitting families to occupy a unit prior to inspection (where the unit has been inspected within the past 24 months and no life-threatening deficiencies were found)
  • Imposition of an asset cap of $100,000
  • Optional termination of tenancy for public housing residents whose annual income exceeds 120 percent of fair market rent for two years
  • Changes to rules governing interim reexaminations
    • Interim decreases required only if rent will decrease by 10 percent or more
    • Interim increases required if rent will increase by 10 percent or more

Other HOTMA changes

  • Options to increase the allowable percentage of project-based vouchers (PBVs) and to extend PBV contract terms
  • Requirements for HUD to provide PHAs with
    • Data on local utility consumption for use in determining utility allowances
    • Guidelines for minimum heating requirements in public housing

Click here for a Congressional summary of HOTMA or here for the full text.

Got questions about HOTMA? Don’t miss Nan’s legislative update at the The Housing Conference this September, where she’ll discuss acts of Congress, regulation changes, and what's ahead for 2017.

Topics: HOTMA, inspections, over-income families, PBV, recertification, rent calculation, seniors and elderly, utilities, veterans, voucher reform legislation

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