HUD-PIH Updates CDC Eviction Moratorium Guidance
On Nov. 18 HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) updated its guidance regarding the temporary eviction moratorium order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC eviction moratorium ends on Dec. 31. Initially, on Oct. 19, PIH issued guidance on the CDC’s moratorium in the form of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). The following are the items to note from the recently updated FAQ.
Notifying Residents of CDC Order
The updated FAQ says that PIH provided PHAs and owners with an eviction moratorium flyer in English that can be distributed to tenants to assist with resident notification. While the CDC order doesn’t require PHAs or owners to notify residents, HUD “strongly encourages” resident notification.
Sharing Resident Declarations with PHA
The FAQ states that Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) participants may also give the CDC resident declaration to the PHA to ensure that the family’s voucher assistance continues. The declaration may be signed and transmitted either electronically or by hard copy. Each adult listed on the lease, rental agreement, or housing contract should complete the declaration. In certain circumstances, such as individuals filing a joint tax return, it may be appropriate for one member of the residence to provide an executed declaration on behalf of other adult residents who are party to the lease.
Showing Best Efforts
The CDC order requires residents to certify that they have “used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent and housing.” In addition to considering participation in a rental assistance program, the FAQ clarifies that residents in the HCV and public housing programs may consider whether they submitted a request to the PHA for an interim reexamination to adjust their rent downward for a change in income or expenses.
The FAQ further states that regardless of whether an interim reexamination or a minimum rent hardship exemption is requested, HCV and public housing residents remain responsible for certifying to truthful information in the declaration regarding whether they’ve used best efforts to pay full or partial rent owed.
Using CARES Act Funds
PHAs aren’t permitted to pay tenants’ rent directly or offer debt forgiveness programs with CARES Act funds, public housing operating or capital funds, or HCV funds. HUD encourages PHAs to connect tenants with local partners and organizations that may be able to offer assistance. For the HCV program, PHAs can provide owners with retention fees or other incentive fees that may assist a resident who needs to enter into a repayment agreement for unpaid rent.
Preventing Evictions After Moratorium Expires
To prevent the eviction of public housing residents and HCV families after the CDC eviction moratorium expires, HUD encourages PHAs to consider if an interim reexamination is appropriate, even if the family doesn’t request one. HUD also encourages PHAs to consider retroactive rent adjustment, to the extent PHA policies allow for it and circumstances warrant it. And HUD encourages PHAs to offer public housing families repayment agreements.
PHAs can use the applicable attachments in the “Eviction Prevention and Stability Toolkit” that was initially developed in response to the now-expired CARES Act eviction moratorium. The toolkit can be found at www.hud.gov/program_offices/public_indian_housing/covid_19_resources.
Terminating Voucher Participant’s Assistance
Normally, a PHA could terminate a family’s voucher assistance if the family owes their landlord rent. But, during the CDC eviction moratorium, for families who invoke eviction protections, PHAs can’t terminate assistance for nonpayment of rent. Voucher program participants should report income changes to the PHA so their rent portion can be adjusted, helping families avoid eviction or losing assistance after the moratorium ends on Dec. 31.