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4 tips for being a fair housing superstar (part 1)

Posted by Adam Ensalaco on Mar 19, 2019 10:25:36 AM

How to become a fair housing superstar

Next month is Fair Housing Month! In honor of this occasion, I’m sharing four tips I’ve learned over the years. From “senior buildings” and reasonable accommodation to service animals and housing terminology, I’m here to get you on the path to becoming the fair housing superstar I know you are. This is a four part series, so be on the lookout for part two coming out next week!

In Public Housing, There’s No Such Thing as a “Senior Building”

In the public housing program, there are four types of developments.

General Population

These developments are for anyone that meets the eligibility requirements. These are often called “family developments.”

Mixed Population

These developments are reserved for families where the head, spouse or cohead are either elderly (62 and up), or who have a HUD-defined disability.

Designated Disabled

These developments are reserved for families where the head, spouse, or co-head has a HUD-defined disability.

Designated Elderly

These developments are reserved for families where the head, spouse, or co-head is elderly.

The common issue is that many PHAs confuse the phrase “elderly families” with “elderly people.” 24 CFR 945.105 defines an elderly family as follows:

Elderly family means a family whose head, spouse, or sole member is an elderly person. The term “elderly family” includes an elderly person, two or more elderly persons living together, and one or more elderly persons living with one or more persons who are determined to be essential to the care or well-being of the elderly person or persons. An elderly family may include elderly persons with disabilities and other family members who are not elderly (emphasis mine).

This makes it clear that there are no public housing buildings which can legally exclude children. There are many reasons why this confusion occurs. First, many of these mixed population or designated elderly developments contain only studio or one-bedroom units. It can seem odd to public housing staff to allow an elderly head of household to share a one-bedroom unit with a minor child. But the Fair Housing Act prohibits familial status discrimination. This means that a PHA cannot treat families with children differently than families without them. If you would let an elderly couple share a one-bedroom, you must allow an elderly head of household to share a one-bedroom with a minor child as well.

It is also possible that no non-elderly person has ever tried to reside in that development. The community at large, the PHA staff, and the residents have all always just assumed that the development is for "seniors only." It is very common in class for PH staff to refer to these as "senior developments" although that is not a HUD term (more about this linguistic confusion later).

Lastly, many PHA staff, both in property and program management, began their careers in the private housing market, where senior-only housing is legal. And it’s not always immediately clear just how different HUD-funded housing is from private market housing.

What is critically important to understand, however, is that any families on the public housing waitlist who have a head, spouse, or cohead that is elderly must be considered an "elderly family" regardless of any minor children who may also be listed on the application. Failure to offer a unit in a mixed population or designated elderly development to such a family simply because of the presence of minors would be a violation of the Fair Housing Act and a contradiction of 24 CFR 945.105.

Finally, all specially designated developments (mixed population, designated elderly, and designated disabled) must be included in a PHA’s annual contributions contract.

Next: Understand What Reasonable Accommodation Is (and Is Not)

Want to build up your fair housing knowledge?

Check out our fair housing resources


More about the author:

Headshot of Adam Ensalaco

Adam Ensalaco specializes in making rent calculation easier to understand and clearing up common misconceptions about the process. Adam has previous experience in the affordable housing industry working to house people with disabilities and training housing authorities on reasonable accommodations and has been a part of the NMA team for nearly a decade.

Topics: eligibility, fair housing, seniors and elderly, Knowledge Base

Multifamily Alert: New RAD PBRA notices

Posted by Reneé McTyeire on Aug 8, 2018 10:06:28 AM

Rental Assistance Demonstration: Implementation of Certain Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Appropriations Act Provisions (FRN 6105-N-01)

This notice establishes rules for which FY rent levels are used as well as deadlines for submission of completed RAD applications. It notes that the RAD application has been significantly simplified, and highlights changes in multi-phase deadlines, the ability to withdraw and reapply for RAD to receive more current rent levels, and RAD second component changes.

Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) – Supplemental Guidance HUD Housing Notice (H 2018-05, PIH 2018-11)

This HUD notice revises certain portions of the RAD Implementation Notice H 2017-03 REV-3 / PIH 2012-32 REV-3.

  • Section I: Provides instructions to PHAs and their development partners, who can convert the assistance of public housing projects under the first component of the demonstration.
  • Section II: Provides instructions to owners of Mod Rehab projects, including SROs, who can convert the assistance of these projects under the second component of the demonstration.
  • Section III: Provides instructions to owners of Rent Supp and RAP projects, who can convert the assistance of these projects under the second component of the demonstration.

There is now a streamlined conversion option for small PHAs with public housing portfolio of 50 units or less, eliminating several lengthy requirements. The notice also implements a higher developer fee limit for owners with a homeless preference to incentivize more development of properties that serve or partially serve this population. Projects that have not yet closed may request HUD approval to convert under the terms of this revised notice.

RHIIP Listserv Posting #410

This notice provides guidance for owner-adopted preferences in RAD properties. Unlike in public housing, owners of RAD PBRA properties may not establish an elderly designation (i.e., a set-aside of units for the elderly). However, owners may adopt a preference for elderly individuals and/or elderly families, which permits those applicants to be selected from the waiting list and housed before other eligible families. Any preference adopted as part of the conversion that will alter the occupancy of the property is subject to an upfront civil rights review during the RAD conversion process.

Certain preferences also require approval from a HUD multifamily field office. For RAD properties, preferences that may be adopted without HUD approval include:

  • Single persons who are 62 or older over other single persons
  • Single persons who are displaced over other single persons
  • Single persons who are homeless over other single persons
  • Single persons with disabilities over other single persons

Preferences that require approval from a HUD field office include but are not limited to:

  • Elderly families
  • Near-elderly single persons
  • Near-elderly families

Learn more about multifamily program compliance

Topics: PBRA, RAD, seniors and elderly, Knowledge Base

HUD Publishes Technical Corrections to HOTMA Implementation Notice

Posted by NMA on Jul 17, 2017 9:08:21 AM

technical corrects HOTMA implementation noticeOn Friday in the Federal Register, HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) published several technical corrections and clarifications to the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) provisions of the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act (HOTMA) it had issued on January 18. These changes are in part based on public comments from the first notice. In brief, the corrections and clarifications are as follows:

  • The original notice used the phrase ‘‘50 percent or more’’ to define a level of control that constitutes a controlling interest and would thus indicate PHA ownership. The threshold for control should be ‘‘more than 50 percent’’ rather than ‘‘50 percent or more.’’
  • The original notice inadvertently excluded from the list of excepted units those units that have received assistance under Section 201 of the Housing and Community Development Amendments of 1978. Today’s notice adds the Flexible Subsidy program in both lists.
  • The original document inadvertently referred to the ‘‘site of the original public housing development’’ instead of ‘‘site of the original development.’’ To avoid any indication that this requirement is only applicable to former public housing units as opposed to all the covered forms of HUD assistance, ‘‘public housing’’ is removed from this part.
  • The original guidance states that ‘‘if the FSS family fails to successfully complete the FSS contract of participation or supportive services objective and consequently is no longer eligible for the supportive services, the family must vacate the unit…and the PHA shall cease paying housing assistance payments on behalf of the ineligible family.’’ To avoid misinterpretation that could imply that a PHA could, under HOTMA, establish a supportive services exception based exclusively on participation in FSS, rather than in combination with another supportive services option where participation is voluntary, and to avoid being misconstrued that this conflicts with current FSS requirements, which do not allow termination from the housing assistance program for failure to complete the FSS contract of participation, HUD has amended this language to eliminate the ambiguities.
  • The definition of new construction units was previously inconsistent in the January 18 guidance, and has been updated to be both correct and consistent in sections referring to project-based voucher (PBV) assistance.
  • HUD stated in the original document that in order to avail itself of the exemption of the competitive award of PBVs, the PHA must “be planning rehabilitation or construction on the project with a minimum of $25,000 per unit in hard costs.” However, because this would not be applicable in a situation where the PHA is replacing a public housing site or property, or a site with PHA-owned or controlled existing housing, several corrections to Section H of the notice have been made.
  • Other typographical errors have also been corrected, as specified in today’s notice.

In a separate correction entry for the January 18 notice, PIH also noted that the original document had been published in the Proposed Rules section of the Federal Register, when it should have appeared in the Rules section. The effective date for the original notice—April 18, 2017—remains unchanged.

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: HOTMA, HQS, inspections, PBV, PIH notices, rent calculation, seniors and elderly, VASH, veterans, persons with disabilities

2017 MTW conference now open to all PHAs!

Posted by NMA on Mar 16, 2017 10:11:54 AM

Registration for the annual Moving to Work (MTW) national conference in Washington, DC, is now open to all housing authorities! View the agenda online here.

Topics at the 2017 MTW conference include:

  • Strategies to Address Homelessness in Your Locality
  • University Studies Update: Evaluating Work Requirements, Term-Limits, and Rent Reform
  • Portfolio Management: What’s Next After Development?
  • Leveraging External Partnerships
  • Current Legislative Climate
  • Expanding Opportunity and Choice: Mobility and Place-Based Strategies
  • Rent Reform
  • Interventions in a Tough Rental Market
  • Administrative/Operational Streamlining in MTW PHAs
  • Serving Specialized Populations
  • Creating Local Non-Traditional Service Programs to Support Seniors
  • Leveraging MTW Flexibility to Create Local Development Strategies
  • And more!

In previous years, registration has been open only to MTW agencies, universities, and industry groups working with the MTW program. Due to upcoming program changes, and increased interest in applying for MTW status, this year's conference is open to all PHAs on a first-come, first-served basis. Space is limited to 2 registrations per agency, and we encourage you to register immediately, as the event is quickly nearing capacity.

2017 MTW Conference

Visit our website to register!

Topics: MTW, seniors and elderly, streamlining

HUD publishes HOTMA implementation notice

Posted by NMA on Jan 24, 2017 8:44:00 AM

HOTMA implementation notice

On Wednesday in the Federal Register, HUD's Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) published a notice implementing several of the provisions of the Housing Opportunity through Modernization Act (HOTMA) that impact the housing choice voucher (HCV) and project-based voucher (PBV) programs, in addition to requesting comments on both current and future implementing requirements. The HOTMA implementation notice is broken down topic-by-topic, followed by specific questions for comment in each corresponding section. The first sections of the notice address:

  • Allowing PHAs to approve tenancy and commence HAP payments when a unit fails HQS, but only if it has non-life-threatening deficiencies.
  • Authorizing occupancy prior to inspection if the unit passed under an alternate inspection within the previous 24 months.
  • Amending the definition of units owned by the PHA so that the unit is PHA-owned only if unit is in a project that is: owned by the PHA, owned by an entity wholly controlled by the PHA, or owned by an LLC or limited partnership in which the PHA or entity wholly controlled by the PHA holds a controlling interest in the managing member or general partner.

The notice also addresses numerous statutory changes to the project-based voucher (PBV) program set forth under HOTMA, covering implementation requirements for the following:

  • Changing the terminology in the statute from “structure” to “project.”
  • Changing the PHA HCV program limitation on PBV vouchers from a 20 percent funding limitation to a 20 percent unit limitation calculation and allowing for additional project-basing of vouchers by raising the limit an additional 10 percent for homeless families, families with veterans, supportive housing for persons with disabilities or elderly persons, or in areas where vouchers are difficult to use.
  • Changing the income-mixing cap on the number of PBV units in a project to be the greater of 25 units in a project or 25 percent of the units in a project (the project unit cap), and making changes to the categories of PBV units that are excepted from this project unit cap.
  • Allowing the PHA to provide for an initial PBV contract of up to 20 years and to further extend that term for an additional 20 years.
  • Allowing the PHA to establish a selection preference for families who qualify for voluntary services, including disability-specific services, offered in conjunction with assisted units, provided that the preference is consistent with the PHA plan.
  • Allowing the PHA to attach assistance to structures in which the PHA has an ownership interest or control without following a competitive process.
  • Allowing PHAs to project-base HUD–VASH and FUP vouchers in accordance with statutory and regulatory requirements of the PBV program without additional requirements for approval by HUD.

The implementing requirements set forth in today’s notice become effective April 18, 2017. Comments on the specific questions posed in the notice are due by March 20.

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: HOTMA, HQS, inspections, PBV, PIH notices, rent calculation, seniors and elderly, VASH, veterans, persons with disabilities

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