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HUD publishes new guidance on streamlining final rule

govt-columns.jpgThe Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has published a 33-page notice containing guidance for implementing the streamlining final rule. The streamlining rule was published on March 8 in the Federal Register. Notice PIH 2016-05 is dated April 7, 2016.

The notice includes a three-page narrative followed by 15 attachments, each addressing a separate provision of the streamlining rule. Each attachment describes the applicable regulation, the programs to which the rule applies, a background and description of the change, whether the change is mandatory or discretionary, and the effective date for the change.

In the narrative portion of the notice, HUD discusses the requirement for revisions to an agency’s administrative plan and/or admissions and continued occupancy policies (ACOP). PHA policies must be revised prior to the implementation of discretionary changes. Each PHA must also determine whether policy revisions constitute a significant amendment to the agency plan, and if so, must follow the agency plan amendment process before implementing the change. Furthermore, the notice states that a PHA must begin the process of revising its administrative plan/ACOP/agency plan as soon as possible so that modifications may be implemented in a timely manner.

The notice’s 15 individual attachments contain implementation guidance for regulatory changes to the following program areas:

  • Verification of social security numbers
  • Definition of extremely low-income families
  • Exclusion of mandatory education fees
  • Streamlined annual reexaminations for fixed sources of income
  • Earned income disregard
  • Family declaration of assets which do not exceed $5,000
  • Utility reimbursements
  • Public housing rents for mixed families
  • Self-certification for the community service requirement
  • Public housing grievance procedures
  • Biennial inspections and use of alternative inspections
  • HQS reinspection fees
  • Exception payment standards as reasonable accommodations
  • Regular and interim reexaminations
  • Utility allowance schedules

HUD followed that guidance with Notice PIH 2016-06, “Administering the Self-Certification Flexibility when Verifying Community Service and Self-Sufficiency Requirement (CSSR) Compliance.” The notice provides clarification of the self-certification option introduced in the streamlining final rule, specifically regarding tenant notification and validation requirements.

Under the streamlining rule, agencies adopting a policy permitting self-certification of community service compliance must notify residents of the option. The notice contains revised versions of Attachment A (Entrance Acknowledgment) and Attachment B (Annual Renewal) containing the required language. The attachments are examples and are not HUD-required forms.

The notice directs PHAs that plan to accept self-certifications to develop standardized forms which must include:

  • A statement that the resident has completed the number of hours listed and this statement is subject to penalties of perjury
  • The number of hours and type of activity (community service or self-sufficiency) that the resident completed
  • The name of the organization or person for which the activity was completed
  • The address of the organization or person
  • The phone number of the organization or person, and
  • A contact person in the organization or the person for which the activity was completed

PHAs that adopt a policy for accepting self-certification must validate a sample of the certifications through third-party documentation. The required sample size, based on a universe of residents who submitted self-certifications, is shown in Appendix C to the notice. For example, a PHA with a universe of 27 self-certifications must validate at least 21 self-certifications. Validation procedures must follow the verification requirements of Notice PIH 2010-19.

As explained in the notice, PHAs must update their community service policies prior to accepting resident self-certifications, and may only accept such certifications prospectively.

For residents under lease at the time the PHA amends its policies, the PHA must review annual compliance and obtain third-party verification for that lease cycle. However, for any subsequent lease cycles beginning after the PHA has adopted the policy change, the PHA may accept resident self-certifications for those periods. A PHA may not accept resident self-certifications for tenants subject to a work-out agreement until the resident has completed, and the PHA has verified through a third party, that the resident has completed the required hours.

Our technical writers and subject matter experts are currently working on a revision to both our model ACOP and model administrative plan. Because the streamlining final rule includes several new policy options, we will be issuing a special mid-year revision rather than having customers wait for the standard annual revision. We were in the process of formatting the revision when HUD released these two clarifying notices, and are now going back to rework our revisions. This has pushed our timeline back a bit.

Once the revision is done, we’ll be releasing it in two ways: we will announce on our website and in the PIH Alert when electronic copies are available to be emailed by request, and we will also offer copies on CD through the mail. I anticipate that the electronic copies will be ready in about three weeks. Once you see our announcement, you can just request that we email them to you. If you’d prefer to get them through the mail, those will take longer since you have to wait for us to print CDs and ship them, probably about a month from now.

We have also reviewed all our seminars and updated them with new guidance as needed.

HCV seminars updated for the streamlining final rule:

Public housing seminars updated for the streamlining final rule:

Multifamily seminars updated for the streamlining final rule:

Thank you to all our subscribers and students. If you have any questions, you can get in touch with the NMA team by emailing or calling us at (800) 783-3100.

Senior trainer Samantha Sowards has been a part of the NMA team since 2008. As NMA’s manager of curriculum development, Samantha oversees publications from concept and creation through the ongoing revision process, including NMA Master Books, model policies, and handbooks.