HUD Mandates EIV Use, SSN Verification
In late January 2009, HUD issued a final rule refining the income and rent determination requirements in its public and assisted housing programs. The final rule has two major new requirements for PHAs and multifamily housing program owners and managers:
It requires the use of the Enterprise Income Verification (EIV) system for verifying income sources maintained in the EIV system at all recertifications or reexaminations; and
It requires verification of the Social Security numbers of all applicants, current program participants, and new household members.
The final rule revises a June 2007 proposed rule from HUD that would have required even more extensive use of EIV. The final rule limits the use of EIV to current program participants only, rather than applicants. (For effective date, see “Breaking News,” p. 5.)
Complying with the New Requirements
HUD has made several changes to program requirements, including some revisions from the June 2007 proposed rule. These changes require site owners and managers to:
Get current resident SSNs. The final rule requires that each current program participant whose initial determination of program eligibility was begun before March 30, 2009, must submit his complete and accurate Social Security number (SSN), and those of all household members, at the household's next interim or regularly scheduled reexamination or recertification. As documentation that the resident disclosed the SSNs as required, you must keep a copy of a “valid SSN card issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA), or such other evidence of the SSN as HUD may prescribe in [future] administrative instructions.”
PRACTICAL POINTER: Note that there is no exception for small children. All household members, including children, must have SSNs documented on file. As noted in the February 2009 Insider (“In the News,” p. 7), HUD advises owners and managers to notify all program participants of this new requirement well before their next recertification so they can obtain missing cards or numbers from the SSA.
Get SSN whenever new member joins household. The final rule requires that if the household adds a new member, including a child or children, the resident must submit the new member's complete and accurate SSN at the time of the request for assistance or at the time of processing the interim reexamination of family composition. Keep a copy of the card in the resident's file.
Require resident to report new SSN. If a household member has a new or previously undisclosed SSN, he or she must disclose it at the next interim or regularly scheduled reexamination of family composition or income, or other recertification.
Terminate assistance or evict if resident doesn't comply. An owner must terminate the assistance of—or the tenancy of—residents who do not meet the applicable SSN disclosure, documentation, and verification requirements specified in the rule.
Require applicants to provide SSNs. Each assistance applicant must submit the complete and accurate SSN assigned to himself and to each member of his household when his eligibility under the program involved is being determined.
Allow applicants without complete household SSNs to stay on waiting list. Applicants who cannot provide SSNs for all family members may retain their place on the site's waiting list. (The head of the household must always disclose his SSN.) However, each member of the household must provide appropriate documentation of his SSN before moving into a unit. You must deny the applicant housing if he does not meet the applicable SSN disclosure and documentation requirements.
Use EIV for current resident verifications. The final rule requires owners to implement and use HUD's EIV system for verifying the income of current residents only. PHAs are already required to use EIV. Multifamily housing owners must begin using EIV by Sept. 30, 2009.
Choose method for calculating income. Under the rule, owners and managers are given the discretion to use either actual past income or projected future income in calculating annual income. PHAs and owners may use actual past annual income from EIV, as long as the resident does not dispute the income information and the current resident-provided documentation or third-party verification does not suggest higher income in the next 12 months.
EDITOR'S NOTE: HUD may impose sanctions on PHAs and owners for failing to use EIV as required.
EIV Pros and Cons
HUD provides electronic access to its EIV system to PHAs and owners at no cost, but expects site managers to maintain EIV data in resident recertification files.
HUD's position is that EIV will save administrative effort and reduce errors in subsidy determination, because PHAs and owners in many instances will not be required to obtain written verification of employment, wages, unemployment compensation, and Social Security benefits from third-party sources, so long as the PHA or owner obtains and maintains documentation from EIV. In actual practice, however, EIV data is often spotty or out of date for the purpose of current recertification, meaning that you must still rely on other sources of verification.
HUD estimates that less than 5 percent of individuals in its assisted housing programs nationally have invalid SSNs or have not disclosed an SSN. Because the SSN is the basis for cross-agency data-matching in EIV, HUD is seeking to eliminate sources of subsidy calculation errors.
The outgoing Bush Administration authored the Final Rule on Jan. 13, 2009. The incoming Obama Administration immediately declared its intention to revisit or suspend new or pending Bush rules. Until the new HUD team does so, though, the program changes mandated in the published rule will hold.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Final Rule was published in the Federal Register on Jan. 27, 2009. The full text is available at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9-1248.pdf.
Breaking News: HUD Proposal DELAYS Effective Date of Final Rules
As the Insider went to press, HUD issued a notice proposing a 60-day delay of the effective date of the final rule, “Refinement of Income and Rent Determination in Public and Assisted Housing Programs, published in the Federal Register on January 27. In addition to delaying the March 30 effective date for the provision requiring proof of SSNs, HUD is seeking comments that would help the agency clarify the provisions requiring SSNs for determining program eligibility, specifically as it relates to families with mixed immigration status. Comments to HUD must be received on or before March 13, 2009. Readers should monitor the HUD Web site for further developments.