In a big win for NAHRO, Congress last night approved a sweeping transportation reauthorization bill that included housing policy that NAHRO has strongly advocated for.
The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act (HR 22) contained several non-controversial housing provisions previously approved by the House, including the Tenant Income Verification Relief Act (HR 233) that was approved under suspension of the rules in March. The FAST Act is expected to sign the legislation into law today.
The bill permits families with 90 percent of their income coming from a fixed-source to undergo triennial re-certifications, as opposed to annually. NAHRO has long advocated for efforts to allow PHAs to reduce the frequency of reexaminations for fixed-income families. Reducing the number of administratively intensive income re-certifications PHAs are required to perform will free up time and resources that can be directed towards other more meaningful tasks. Both the House and the Senate supported this approach in prior bills.
NAHRO thanks Congress for approving this common-sense policy, particularly the sponsor of the Tenant Income Verification Act Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.).
The FAST Act contained several other housing provisions. As a consequence of statutory changes to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance (McKinney-Vento) Act in 2009, private nonprofits were left off the list of eligible entities that could directly administer permanent housing rental assistance provided through the Continuum of Care (CoC) program. This omission hampered the flexibility in communities to lease housing to the homeless, and placed additional administrative burden upon HUD. The bill offers a provision previously advocated for by NAHRO that would amend McKinney-Vento to allow private nonprofits back on the list of eligible entities. Currently, the FY 2015 Appropriations Act includes a temporary fix allowing (in addition to states, units of general local government and PHAs) private nonprofits to administer permanent housing rental assistance, but only through program funds provided for Fiscal Years 2012, 2013, and 2014.
Twice a year HUD must reallocate Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) funds that are unused, returned, or otherwise become available for the program. Each fiscal year there are typically little or no unused/returned funds in the ESG account. The requirement to execute two ESG reallocations a year can be administratively burdensome to HUD staff. To increase administrative efficiency, the bill would amend the ESG statue to require only one reallocation a year.
The bill would also establish a pay-for-success demonstration that would execute budget-neutral, performance-based agreements aimed at reducing energy or water costs in multifamily units. From FY 2016 through FY 2019, projects would be carried out for no more than 20,000 residential units in multifamily buildings that participate in HUD’s Section 8 Project-based Rental Assistance, Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly, and Section 811(d)(2) Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities programs.