HUD Seeks Input Before Implementing Small PHA Amendments

HUD published a notice in the Federal Register on Feb. 14 asking for input before implementing amendments to the United States Housing Act of 1937 that primarily pertain to small public housing agencies (PHAs) predominantly operating in a rural area. Another amendment requires HUD to make available one or more software programs to facilitate the voluntary use of shared waiting lists by PHAs (not just small PHAs) as well as by private owners of HUD-assisted housing.

On May 24, 2018, President Trump signed into law the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act. Section 209 of the act added Section 38 to the Housing Act of 1937 regarding small public housing agencies. Section 209 defines a “small public housing agency” as a PHA that administers 550 or fewer public housing units and Housing Choice Vouchers, combined, and that predominantly operates in a rural area.

One of the provisions in Section 209 reduces the frequency of physical inspections at small PHAs to once every three years for public housing and for units occupied by households using a voucher. If HUD designates a small PHA to be “troubled,” however, it must be re-inspected within a year. Prior to Section 209, only the highest performing small PHAs were allowed a three-year window between physical inspections. Small PHAs deemed “standard” have been inspected every two years, and “troubled” small PHAs have been inspected every year.

Another Section 209 provision gives HUD discretion in designating a small PHA as “troubled.” Such a designation may be made if HUD determines that the PHA has failed to maintain public housing units in a “satisfactory physical condition,” or if HUD determines that the PHA’s voucher program has failed to comply with Housing Quality Standards (HQS). The statute also sets out requirements for a small PHA to enter into a corrective action agreement within 60 days of being designated troubled, and for addressing the failure of a troubled small PHA to comply after one year. HUD’s Federal Register notice states that HUD is developing regulations about these provisions.

Section 209(c) requires HUD to develop and use by Nov. 20, 2018, electronic information systems to enable full reporting by any PHAs (not limited to small PHAs) that want to form a consortium of PHAs. HUD’s Federal Register notice states that HUD is still working on it. And Section 209(d) requires HUD to make available one or more software programs that will enable PHAs (not limited to small PHAs) and private owners of HUD-assisted housing to share waiting lists. HUD’s Federal Register notice states that HUD is exploring software program options. It mentions the Massachusetts Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Centralized Waiting List, but also describes limitations of that model. HUD poses four questions and solicits feedback.

The Federal Register Notice can be found here.