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NCSHA Notes by Lois Churchill

Cathy Turner and I attended the HOME portion of the NCSHA HFA Institute in D.C. last week. Here are notes worth sharing:

  • The biggest issue noted was in regards to housing for persons with disabilities. We were told time and time again that while housing may target or give preference to persons with a particular type of disability HUD is warning that there is a potential Fair Housing violation if you refuse to rent to a person with any type of disability that otherwise qualifies. For example, if you have a group home for the developmentally disabled and someone applies with a different disability, you cannot refuse to rent to them solely because they are not developmentally disabled. Another example is housing for the mentally disabled; you cannot refuse to rent to someone with a physical disability. Your marketing must be to all persons with disabilities, although it may state your preference for a specific disability. Wait lists are to be reviewed for reasons applicants are refused housing to ensure Fair Housing law is not violated.

However , The Fair Housing Act doesn’t state that you cannot have housing for specific types of disability. In fact, it states that one of the few instances when an owner may ask about a handicap is in “inquiry to determine whether an applicant is qualified for a dwelling available only to persons with handicaps or to persons with a particular type of handicap” (100.202(c)(2)).

USING LOW INCOME HOUSING TAX CREDITS WITH HOME

Nothing too earth shattering here. Here were a few points where I made notes:

  • HOME rents & income limits may be more restrictive than LIHTC (FMR is HOME rent cap)
  • If HOME funds are received through a grant, eligible basis is reduced
  • Utility allowances may differ for HOME assisted units and LIHTC units
  • Prohibited lease conditions – FYI, dry housing not allowed, mandatory counseling not allowed. Again here the issue about housing for specific types of disabilities was brought up.
  • The one area where HOME rules defer to LIHTC rules is in regards to households going over income (140% rule)

We were also provided with a handy HOME & LIHTC COMPARISON CHART.

RENTAL HOUSING TRUST FUND

Still a proposed rule and fund is not yet funded, but the program was reviewed for when it does go active.

  • HTF will be a new Subpart N of HOME program (24 CFR Part 92). It is not a program itself, but a source of funds.
  • Income targeting will be to ELI and VLI households at a 75/25 ratio. In the first year of funding, 100% of HTF funds must be used to produce units that benefit ELI families or families with incomes below the poverty line, whichever is greater.
  • One item noted as being unique to HTF is that operating costs of HTF-assisted rental housing are an eligible activity (not more than 20% of each annual grant). It was noted that the suggestion is that this be used as an additional reserve account to pay gap of Section 8 lost.
  • HTF will use HUD published rents. While the slide appeared to show that rents are set by household size we were told that this is not true.
  • Minimum affordability period of 30 years was determined based on the assumption that HTF will be used with LIHTC which has a 15 & 15 affordability period.
  • Funds may not be used for public housing, including HOPE VI housing operated as public housing.
  • Funds are not to go to already affordable housing projects, meant to increase the number of affordable units.
  • HTF will use UPCS inspection standards at a minimum, not HOME’s HQS. Must meet applicable property standards at time of acquisition or be rehabbed to meet them
  • On site inspections must occur 12 months after project completion and at least once every 3 years.
  • Calls for follow-up inspections within 12 months or within a reasonable time frame established by grantee for projects with observed deficiencies. I asked if there was a particular level of observed deficiency that would trigger a re-inspection. I reminded them that a missing sink stopper (level 1) is an observed deficiency but would something as minor as that require a follow-up visit. They actually made note of my comment for follow-up discussion. More to come!

RENTAL HOUSING COMPLIANCE

I had really looked forward to this session as Spectrum Enterprises has not been allowed to attend any of the HUD sponsored HOME trainings in compliance.

  • Affirmative marketing procedures of a PJ is monitored by HUD. Affirmative marketing is required for projects with 5 or more HOME-assisted units. Presentation reminded all that the plan must include special outreach to those least likely to apply. HUD looks to see that PJ has an affirmative marketing procedure that they relay and require of owners.
  • A written Tenant Selection Criteria is required.
  • A written waiting list must be maintained by owners.
  • There is no one specific HOME rule on maximum number of people per unit. PJ should establish standards based on local code if any.
  • Not a HOME violation if unit is under-utilized or overcrowded. Overcrowding may be a lease violation if there is an occupancy standard in place however.
  • Leases in use at HOME properties must be approved by the PJ, are required, must include rent and procedures for changes in rents, and must not contain any HOME prohibited clauses.
  • Timing of rent changes when households go over income – cannot change rent from Low to High HOME until the Low HOME unit is substituted. Can change rent for over income HH (over 80% AMI) as permitted by lease, do not need to wait for substitute unit.
  • Property standards also include UFAS standards for handicapped access. PJs may adopt more stringent standards than HQS.
  • PJs must verify compliance with HOME requirements each year. The desk review for property condition includes pictures of the property, maintenance records, sub work orders, and tenant complaints. A drive-by is also recommended.
  • The Occupancy portion of the annual reporting should include whether or not the property complies with property standards.
  • There should also be a Property Management portion of the annual report (recommended) that notes pending capital improvements, status/turnover in property management staff, as well as significant issues that the property is facing such as crime, high unit turnover, and high vacancy.

The session then went on to talk about signs of distressed properties.

NEIGHBORHOOD STABILIZATION PROGRAM

I got absolutely nothing out of this session. It was merely the presenter asking if people had any problems with NSP, nothing about the program itself.

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