UPDATED COVID-19 POLICIES

 

Pursuant to the authority provided under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act (Public Law 116-136), HUD is waiving and establishing alternative requirements for numerous statutory and regulatory requirements for the Public Housing program, Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) program, and Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG) program. These waivers provide administrative flexibilities and relief to public housing agencies (PHAs), Indian tribes, and tribally designated housing entities (TDHEs) in response to the COVID-19 national emergency. With respect to the Public Housing and HCV programs, use of these waivers is at the discretion of the PHA; however, HUD strongly encourages PHAs to utilize any and all waivers and alternative requirements as necessary to keep public housing and HCV programs operational to the extent practicable.

 

THE PUNTA GORDA HOUSING AUTHORITY HAS ELECTED TO ENACT THE FOLLOWING WAIVERS, PER PIH NOTICE 2020-05, EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY:

 

 

WAIVERS APPLICABLE TO BOTH PUBLIC HOUSING AND HCV PROGRAMS

 

PH and HCV-3:  Family Income and Composition: Annual Examination – Income Verification requirements

Regulatory Authority: 24 CFR § 5.233(a)(2)

Sub-regulatory Guidance: PIH Notice 2018-18

Description: PHAs are required to use the Enterprise Income Verification (EIV) System for verification of family income at the annual examination. 24 CFR § 5.233(a)(2) requires PHAs to use EIV as a third-party source to verify tenant employment and income information during mandatory reexaminations or recertifications of family composition and income in accordance with §5.236 and administrative guidance issued by HUD. PIH Notice 2018-18 describes the required verification hierarchy process PHAs must follow. HUD understands that documentation may be difficult to obtain as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency. PHAs are also facing challenges with securely accessing HUD systems while many if not all staff are working remotely.

To address these challenges, HUD is waiving the requirements to use the income hierarchy described by PIH Notice 2018-18 and will allow PHAs to forgo third-party income verification requirements for annual reexaminations, including the use of EIV, if the PHA wishes to conduct the annual recertification rather than delaying the family’s annual recertification.

During the allowable period of availability, PHAs may consider self-certification as the highest form of income verification to process annual reexaminations. This may occur over the telephone (but must be documented by PHA staff with a contemporaneous written record), through an email or postal mail with a self-certification form by the tenant, or through other electronic communications. PHAs are encouraged to incorporate procedures to remind families of the obligation to provide true and complete information when adopting these flexibilities.

PHAs are further reminded that there is no HUD requirement that income and family composition examinations and recertifications must be conducted in-person unless determined necessary as a reasonable accommodation as long as applicable public health guidelines are followed (e.g., social distancing) and any state or local ordinance is followed.

PHAs that conduct annual examinations under this waiver/alternative requirement will be responsible for addressing any material discrepancies that may arise later. For example, if a tenant self-certified that the tenant lost their job, but later the EIV Income Validation Tool (IVT) shows the tenant’s employment continued, the PHA must take enforcement action in accordance with their policies and procedures.

Period of Availability: The period of availability to conduct annual reexaminations using these modified verification requirements ends on July 31, 2020.

 

PH and HCV-4: Family Income and Composition: Interim Examinations

Statutory Authority: Section 3(a)(1) of the USHA of 1937

Regulatory Authority: 24 CFR § 5.233(a)(2) – HCV and Public Housing

Regulatory Authority: 24 CFR § 982.516(c)(2) – HCV

Regulatory Authority: 24 CFR § 960.257(b) and (d) – Public Housing

Sub-regulatory Guidance: PIH Notice 2018-18

Description: For the HCV and public housing programs, PHAs are required to adopt policies (in their Administrative Plans and Admissions and Continued Occupancy Plans (ACOPs), respectively) prescribing when and under what conditions the family must report a change in family income or composition. However, at any time that a family requests an interim determination of family income or composition because of any changes since the last determination, the PHA must make the interim determination within a reasonable time after the family’s request. In most cases, the reason a family requests an interim determination is due to a loss in income or a change in family composition.

PHAs are required to use EIV for verification of family income at interim reexamination. 24 CFR § 5.233(a)(2) requires PHAs to use EIV as a third-party source to verify tenant employment and income information during mandatory reexaminations or recertifications of family composition and income in accordance with §5.236 and administrative guidance issued by HUD. PIH Notice 2018-18 further describes the required verification hierarchy process PHAs must follow.

To assist PHAs that may be prioritizing the processing of interim reexaminations due to decreases in family income and mitigate the challenges of transferring documentation during periods of shelter-in-place/stay-at-home efforts in response to the COVID-19 emergency, HUD is waiving the requirements to use the income verification hierarchy as described by PIH Notice 2018-18. HUD will allow PHAs to forgo third-party income verification requirements for interim reexaminations, including the required use of EIV. During the allowable period of eligibility, PHAs may consider self-certification as the highest form of income verification to process interim reexaminations. This may occur over the telephone (with a contemporaneous written record by the PHA staff person), through an email with a self-certification form by the family, or through other electronic communications.

As noted in the previous waiver description, there is no HUD requirement that income and family composition examinations and recertifications must be conducted in-person unless it may be necessary as a reasonable accommodation for a person with a disability as long as applicable public health guidelines are followed (e.g., social distancing) and any local and state ordinances is followed.

PHAs that conduct interim reexaminations under this waiver/alternative requirement will be responsible for addressing any material discrepancies that may arise later. For example, if a tenant self-certified that the tenant lost their job, but later the EIV IVT Report shows the tenant’s employment continued, the PHA must take enforcement action that is consistent with its policies and procedures.

PHAs may wish to review and adjust their interim reexamination policies (e.g., revising the PHA requirements when families must report increases in income between annual reexaminations or revising the policy regarding how to determine the effective date of an interim examination). PHAs should see HCV-1 and PH-4 for information on how these types of changes can be expedited.

Period of Availability: The period of availability ends on July 31, 2020.

 

PH and HCV-6: Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Contract of Participation; Contract Extension

Regulatory Authority: 24 CFR § 984.303(d)

Description: Part 984 establishes the requirements for the Section 8 and Public Housing FSS Program. Section 984.303(d) authorizes a PHA to extend a family’s contract of participation for a period not to exceed two years upon a finding of good cause. HUD has made a determination that the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 qualify as “good cause” to extend family contracts, and FSS programs may consider this expanded definition of “good cause” as they make their determinations on each family’s eligibility for an extension.

Period of Availability: The period of availability during which the PHA may extend the family’s contract of participation using COVID-19 as the “good cause” ends on December 31, 2020.

 

 

HOUSING CHOICE VOUCHER PROGRAM WAIVERS – HOUSING QUALITY STANDARDS (HQS) INSPECTIONS

 

Introduction: HUD recognizes the unprecedented challenge the COVID-19 pandemic poses to PHAs in carrying out the most essential of their HCV program administrative responsibilities – ensuring that assisted families are living in decent, safe, and sanitary housing. HQS inspections protect the health and safety of HCV families. However, conducting physical inspections of units in many communities during this national emergency poses its own health risks for families, participating owners, and PHA personnel, and may run counter to public health orders, directives, or recommendations such as shelter-in-place or other social distancing practices designed to contain and reduce exposure to COVID-19. In order to provide PHAs with the necessary flexibilities to continue to allow families to lease units and to postpone normally required HQS inspections for units under HAP contract, HUD is authorizing the use of the HQS-related waivers and alternative requirements listed in this section. PHAs are in the best position to determine which (if any) of these waivers should be applied to their HCV programs based on the needs and current conditions in their local communities.

 

HQS-1: Initial Inspection Requirements

Statutory Authority: Section 8(o)(8)(A)(i), Section 8(o)(8(C) of the USHA of 1937

Regulatory Authority: 24 CFR §§ 982.305(a), 982.305(b), 982.405

Description: Section 8(o)(8)(A)(i) requires that the PHA must inspect the unit before any assistance payment is made to determine whether the unit meets HQS. Section 8(o)(8)(C) requires the PHA to conduct the initial inspection within certain time frames after receiving the RFTA. Section 982.305 provides that the PHA may not approve the assisted tenancy or execute a HAP contract until the unit has been inspected by the PHA and passes HQS. Additionally, Section 982.305 requires that the PHA must inspect the unit to determine that the unit satisfies the HQS before the beginning of the initial lease term, and that the PHA must perform this inspection within either 15 days or within a reasonable time depending on the size of the PHA.

HUD is waiving these requirements and providing an alternative requirement. In order to place the unit under HAP contract and commence making payments, the PHA may rely on the owner’s certification that the owner has no reasonable basis to have knowledge that life threatening conditions exist in the unit or units in question instead of conducting an initial inspection. At minimum the PHA must require this owner certification. However, the PHA may add other requirements or conditions in addition to the owner’s certification but is not required to do so. The PHA is required to conduct an HQS inspection on the unit as soon as reasonably possible but no later than October 31, 2020.

This waiver and alternative requirement may also be applied to PHA-owned units if the independent entity is unable to perform the inspection.

Period of Availability: The period of availability for PHAs to accept owner’s self-certification for an initial inspection ends on July 31, 2020. The period of availability for the PHA to inspect a unit that was placed under HAP contract based on the owner’s self-certification ends on October 31, 2020.

 

HQS-3: Initial Inspection: Non-Life-Threatening Deficiencies (NLT) Option

Statutory Authority: Section 8(o)(8)(A)(ii) of the USHA of 1937

Regulatory Authority: Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act (HOTMA) of 2016: Implementation of Various Section 8 Voucher Provisions, 82 Fed. Reg. 5458 (Jan. 18, 2017)

Description: Section 8(o)(8)(A)(ii) provides the PHA with the option to choose to approve an assisted tenancy, execute the HAP contract, and begin making housing assistance payments on a unit that fails the initial HQS inspection, provided the unit’s failure to meet HQS is the result only of NLT conditions. The statute further requires that the PHA must withhold housing assistance payments from the owner if the NLT conditions are not corrected within 30 days.

HUD is waiving the requirement that the PHA must withhold the payment if the NLT repairs are not made in 30 days. Instead, the PHA may provide an extension of up to an additional 30 days to the owner to make the NLT repairs and continue to make payments to the owner during the period of that maximum 30-day extension. If the owner has not made the NLT repairs by the end of the PHA extension period, the PHA must withhold payments.

This NLT initial inspection option is available to the PHA for both tenant-based units and project-based units. This waiver and alternative requirement may also be applied to PHA-owned units if the independent entity is unable to perform the inspection.

Period of Availability: The period of availability for the PHA to approve an extension of up to an additional 30 days ends on July 31, 2020. The extension to make the NLT repairs may extend beyond July 31, 2020, depending on the date the PHA approved the extension. For example, if the PHA approved the extension on July 15th, the maximum extension provided to the owner would be August 15th.

 

HQS-6: HQS Interim Inspections

Statutory Authority: Section 8(o)(8)(F) of the USHA of 1937

Regulatory Authority: 24 CFR §§ 982.405(g), 983.103(e)

Description: The statute requires that upon notification to the PHA by a family or government official that the assisted unit does not comply with the HQS, the PHA must inspect the unit within 24 hours of when the PHA received the notification if the condition is life-threatening. 24 CFR 982.405(g) provides that if the reported condition is not life-threatening, the PHA must inspect the unit within 15 days. The regulation further provides that in the event of extraordinary circumstances HUD may waive the 24-hour or the 15-day inspection requirement until such time as an inspection is feasible.

HUD is waiving these requirements and establishing an alternative requirement for both tenant-based and PBV units. If the reported deficiency is life-threatening, the PHA must notify the owner of the reported life-threatening deficiency and that the owner must either correct the life-threatening deficiency within 24 hours of the PHA notification or provide documentation (e.g., text or email a photo to the PHA) that the reported deficiency does not exist. In the case of a reported non-life-threatening deficiency, the PHA must notify the owner of the reported deficiency within 30 days and the owner must either make the repair or document that the deficiency does not exist within 30 days of the PHA notification or any approved PHA extension. The PHA may add other requirements or conditions in addition to the owner’s documentation but is not required to do so.

As is the case under the current HCV program requirements, the PHA is not required to conduct an on-site inspection to verify the repairs have been made but may rely on alternative verification methods (e.g., photos submitted by the owner, tenant certification, etc.).

This waiver may also be applied to PHA-owned units if the independent entity is unable to perform the inspection.

Period of Availability: The period of availability ends on July 31, 2020. After July 31, 2020, the PHA must conduct the HQS inspection in accordance with the applicable time periods upon notification by a family or government official that the assisted unit does not comply with the HQS.

 

HQS-7: PBV Turnover Unit Inspections

Regulatory Authority: 24 CFR § 983.103(c)

Description: The regulation requires that before providing assistance to a new family in a PBV contract unit, the PHA must inspect the unit. HUD is waiving this regulatory requirement and providing as an alternative requirement the PHA may rely on the owner’s certification that the owner has no reasonable basis to have knowledge that life threatening conditions exist in the unit or units in question to allow a new family to occupy the vacated PBV unit. At minimum the PHA must require this owner certification. However, the PHA may add other requirements or conditions in addition to the owner’s certification but is not required to do so. The PHA is required to conduct the HQS inspection on the unit as soon as reasonably possible, but no later than October 31, 2020.

This waiver may also be applied to PHA-owned units if the independent entity is unable to perform the inspection.

Period of Availability: The period of availability to fill a turnover PBV unit without conducting an HQS inspection ends on July 31, 2020. The period of availability for completing inspections for turnover PBV units that were reoccupied without an HQS inspection under this waiver authority ends on October 31, 2020.

 

HQS-9: HQS Quality Control Inspections

Regulatory Authority: 24 CFR § 982.405(b)

Description: The regulations require PHAs to conduct supervisory quality control inspections of a sampling of units under contract. HUD is waiving this regulatory requirement.

Period of Availability: The period of applicability ends on October 31, 2020.

 

 

HOUSING CHOICE VOUCHER PROGRAM WAIVERS – GENERAL

 

HCV-1: Administrative plan

Regulatory Authority: 24 CFR § 982.54 (a)

Description: The regulation requires that any revisions of the PHA’s administrative plan must be formally adopted by the PHA Board of Commissioners or other authorized PHA officials. Recognizing the foreseeable difficulties in complying with this requirement in light of the COVID-19 emergency, HUD is waiving the requirement to allow the PHA administrative plan to be revised on a temporary basis without Board approval. As an alternative requirement any informally adopted revisions under this waiver authority must be formerly adopted as soon as practicable following June 30, 2020, but no later than July 31, 2020.

Period of Availability: The period of availability ends on July 31, 2020.

 

HCV-2: Information When Family is Selected – PHA Oral Briefing

Regulatory Authority: 24 CFR § 982.301(a)(3), § 983.252(a)

Description: The regulation requires when the PHA selects a family to participate in either the HCV or PBV program, the PHA must give the family an oral briefing. HUD is waiving this requirement and as an alternative requirement allowing the PHA to conduct the briefing by other means such as a webcast, video call, or expanded information packet. Section 504 and the ADA require PHAs to ensure effective communication with applicants, participants and members of the public in all communications and notices. The PHA must ensure that the method of communication for the briefing effectively communicates with, and allows for equal participation of, each family member, including those with vision, hearing, and other communication-related disabilities, and ensures meaningful access for persons with limited English proficiency.

Period of Availability: The period of availability ends on July 31, 2020.

 

HCV-3: Term of Voucher – Extensions of Term

Regulatory Authority: 24 CFR § 982.303(b)(1)

Description: The regulation provides that at its discretion, the PHA may grant a family one or more extensions of the initial voucher term in accordance with the PHA policy as described in the PHA administrative plan. HUD is waiving the requirement that the extension(s) must be accordance with the PHA’s administrative plan in order to allow the PHA to provide extensions even though it has been unable to formally amend its policy in the administrative plan.

Period of Availability: The period of availability ends on July 31, 2020.

 

 

PUBLIC HOUSING PROGRAM WAIVERS

 

PH-2: Total Development Costs

Regulatory Authority: 24 CFR § 905.314(c)

Description: The public housing regulations establish a Maximum Project Cost which represents the total amount of Public Housing Funds that may be used for development of a public housing project. The Total Development Cost (TDC) and Housing Construction Cost (HCC) limits are published periodically by HUD. These limits may not be exceeded without a waiver approved by HUD or an exception approved by HUD pursuant to 24 CFR § 905.314(c).

HUD is waiving the TDC and HCC limits to allow the amount of Public Housing Funds committed to development of a project to exceed the applicable TDC and HCC limits by 25% without a waiver from HUD. Amounts in excess of 25% up to 50% may be approved by the HUD program office on a case-by-case basis, if sufficient justification is provided. This waiver applies to public housing development, Mixed-Finance development and Choice Neighborhoods development. However, all other requirements of development set forth in 24 CFR § 905.600 still apply. HUD recognizes that COVID-19 may seriously impact development costs. The lack of available labor; shortage of materials; extended development timeframes; and changes in financial markets, all have the potential to increase development costs above the established HUD TDC and HCC limits.

If a project still exceeds TDC and HCC limits after the increase approved by HUD is taken into consideration, then a PHA may submit a request for an exception pursuant to 24 CFR § 905.314(c) or request a waiver for other good cause for HUD’s consideration.

Period of Availability: A complete Development Proposal must be submitted to HUD no later than December 31, 2021 for a project to be eligible for this waiver.

 

PH-4: ACOP: Adoption of Tenant Selection Policies

Regulatory Authority: 24 CFR § 960.202(c)(1)

Description: The regulation requires that the PHA policies in the ACOP must be duly adopted and implemented. HUD is waiving this requirement to permit PHAs to adopt and implement changes to the ACOP on an expedited basis, without formal board approval. As an alternative requirement, any informally adopted revisions under this waiver authority must be formally adopted as soon as practicable following June 30, 2020, but no later than July 31, 2020. Please note that the requirement for tenant selection policies to be consistent with the fair housing and equal opportunity at § 5.105 remains in effect.

Period of Availability: The period of availability ends on July 31, 2020.

 

PH-5: Community Service and Self-Sufficiency Requirement (CSSR)

Statutory Authority: Section 12(c) of the USHA of 1937

Regulatory Authority: 24 CFR § 960.603(a) and 960.603(b)

Description: The statute and regulations require that each adult resident of public housing, except for any family member that is exempt, must contribute 8 hours per month of community service or participate in an economic self-sufficiency program or a combination of both. A family’s noncompliance with the service requirement is grounds for non-renewal of the lease at the end of the lease term. HUD is waiving this requirement and is alternatively suspending the community service and self-sufficiency requirement. If a PHA adopts this waiver, tenants will not be subject to this requirement until the family’s next annual reexamination. Upon the family’s next annual reexamination, PHAs should report on Form HUD-50058 each individual’s CSSR status as either exempt for those that are exempt, or pending for those that are otherwise eligible but for which the suspension prevents a housing authority from determining compliance. After a PHA completes an annual reexamination for any family, the CSSR becomes effective again for family members for the subsequent annual reexamination cycle.

Period of Availability: The period of availability ends on March 31, 2021.

 

 

PHAS, SEMAP, and Uniform Financial Reporting Standards

 

PHAS

Regulatory Authority: 24 CFR Part 902

Description: Part 902 sets out the indicators by which HUD measures the performance of a PHA. The indicators measure a PHA’s physical condition, financial condition, management operations, and Capital Fund obligation and occupancy. HUD is waiving this inspection requirement and is alternatively postponing physical inspections for all PHAs until further notice, except where there is a threat to life or property. HUD will primarily rely on residents’ complaints and potentially other sources such as news articles, Congressional inquiries and field office requests to identify threat to life or property.

Further, for PHA that had a PHAS score pending as of the date of this notice, and for any PHA with a fiscal year ending on or before December 31, 2020, HUD will not issue a new PHAS score unless the PHA requests that a new PHAS score be issued. HUD will instead carry forward the most recent PHAS score on record.

Period of Availability: HUD will resume issuing new PHAS scores beginning with PHAs with fiscal year end dates of March 31, 2021.

 

SEMAP

Regulatory Authority: 24 CFR Part 985

Description: Part 985 sets out the requirements by which Section 8 tenant-based assistance programs are assessed. For PHAs that have a SEMAP score pending as of the date of this notice, and for any PHA with a fiscal year ending on or before December 31, 2020, HUD will not issue a new SEMAP score unless the PHA requests a that new SEMAP score be issued. HUD will instead carry forward the most recent SEMAP score on record.

Period of Availability: HUD will resume issuing new SEMAP scores beginning with PHAs with fiscal year end dates of March 31, 2021.

 

Uniform financial reporting standards; Filing of financial reports; Reporting Compliance Dates

Regulatory Authority: 24 CFR §§ 5.801(c), 5.801(d)(1)

Description: Section 5.801 establishes uniform financial reporting standards (UFRS) for PHAs (and other entities). Section 5.801(c) requires that PHAs submit financial information in accordance with 24 CFR § 5.801(b) annually, not later than 60 days after the end of the fiscal year of the reporting period. Section 5.801(d)(1) requires that PHAs submit their unaudited financial statements not later than 60 calendar days after the end of their fiscal year, and that PHAs submit their audited financial statements not later than 9 months after the end of their fiscal year.

 

HUD is waiving these requirements and is providing the alternative requirements for the following PHAs:

  • PHAs with a FYE of June 30, 2019; September 30, 2019; December 31, 2019; and March 31, 2020, and a deadline to submit audited financial information in accordance with 24 CFR § 5.801(b) and (d); and
FYE Due Date Extended Due Date
3/31/2020 12/31/2020 6/30/2021
  • PHAs with a FYE of December 31, 2019 and March 31, 2020, and a deadline to submit unaudited financial information in accordance with 24 CFR § 5.801(b) and (d).
FYE Due Date Extended Due Date
3/31/2020 5/31/2020 11/30/2020