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How to maximize your agency's HCV performance rating: Tip #3

Teri RobertsonTip #3: Limit reviews to required elements.

One of the most common errors in SEMAP certifications is over-reviewing. To prevent this, make sure you don't incorrectly penalize your agency for errors that fall outside the scope of the SEMAP review.

SEMAP Indicator 3, Determination of Adjusted Income, is one of only three indicators worth 20 points. This indicator covers calculation of annual and adjusted income, compliance with verification requirements, and calculation of the utility allowance. In order to receive the full 20 points, the file review must show that the PHA made correct determinations for at least 90 percent of families in the randomly-selected file sample.

Review of the sample files for Indicator 3 should be limited to the elements covered in the regulation. For example, errors in determining the payment standard or minimum rent would not "count" as an error under Indicator 3. Of course, any additional errors should be noted and corrected.

The limitation to required elements applies to

other SEMAP indicators as well as Indicator 3.

PHA reviewers often certify a lower score than the agency should actually earn, based on a full file review that exceeds the SEMAP requirements. In the case of Indicator 3, an example would be the review of unnecessary elements possibly resulting in a score of 15 points or zero points when the agency should have actually earned the full 20 points. This error could impact the agency's overall rating by reducing the final score from "high performer" to "standard" (or from "standard" to "troubled").

In order to avoid this error, staff members conducting the SEMAP file reviews must be familiar with the requirements for each indicator. Staff members who routinely conduct "full" file reviews for quality control purposes need to be aware that the requirements for SEMAP reviews are more limited and vary by indicator.

Next: How to maximize your agency's HCV performance rating: Tip #4

NMA senior consultant Teri Robertson is nationally recognized as a leading expert in HCV and public housing rent calculation, including HUD RIM review requirements. She specializes in helping agencies improve program utilization to maximize funding. She has previously written for the NMA blog about HCV administrative fees.