10/04/2010
IN THIS ISSUE:

HUD Hosts Meeting with Industry Representatives on Physical Needs Assessments

Last week, HUD hosted industry groups and housing authorities at the second of four meetings regarding their plans to institute a mandatory requirement for PHAs to complete Physical Needs Assessments (PNAs). The meeting provided an update on HUD’s progress on the PNA tool design, their plans for implementation and how those will affect PHA operations. They also gathered additional industry input on improving the tool.

As CLPHA reported last year, HUD included as a stipulation that PHAs receiving Recovery Act funds must submit a PNA. At the first meeting, in July 2009, HUD asked for information on how PHAs used PNAs for long-term planning, what types of standards should be used to estimate capital needs, and how the completed PNAs should be used by HUD.

Industry representatives made it clear that the PNA tool should be user friendly; that standards should include green building elements, elderly and disabled accessibility upgrades, and marketability improvements; and, that the PNA requirement should be a tool for PHAs and not just another reporting burden. Industry representatives also asked for assurance that PNAs not be used to score housing agencies, and that agencies will continue to have local flexibility in using capital funds. They also asked for additional funding to pay for the extensive costs of conducting PNAs.

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Public Housing: A Model for Smart Government Investment

Congratulations to Huffington Post reporter Dan Froomkin for his ongoing recognition that government investment plays a key role in boosting the economy.  (Joys of Retrofitting; Reasonable Stimulus Spending)

When it comes to retrofitting, he is absolutely right: investment in green essentially costs the government nothing over the life cycle of the improvement even though it immediately creates jobs and improves the economy.  He is also right when he talks about the value of stimulus spending, a point underscored by the latest White House report showing that Recovery Act funds are being used effectively and efficiently.

Some of the best and most concrete examples of both can be seen in come from the innovative work public housing authorities are doing across the country.  Awarded $4 billion in capital funds, housing agencies are saving and creating thousands of jobs and homes at a time when both are sorely needed. 

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Industry Groups Agree on Principles for Recapitalizing, Preserving Public Housing Stock

CLPHA, NAHRO and PHADA recently agreed to 12 general principles to guide the legislative and regulatory discussions on how best to preserve and recapitalize public housing.

Introduction

The public housing portfolio is an irreplaceable public asset, much of which is at significant risk of being lost due to enormous capital backlogs.  A recapitalization initiative based on conversion is critical to preserving many of these properties.  At the same time, policymakers should not view conversion as the solution for the entire inventory.  These are the principles which should guide the preservation of public housing:

 1.      Public housing authorities (PHAs) should have the option to convert appropriate public housing properties, on a voluntary basis, to other affordable housing subsidy models with adequate, predictable, and reliable funding including project-based Housing Choice Vouchers (HCVs) or project-based Section 8 Rental Assistance administered by HUD’s Office of Housing.  PHAs should have the flexibility to choose which project-based subsidy to use for each conversion.

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Congress Approves Spending Through Year End

Before leaving town, Congress passed HR 3081, a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded through December 3.  Apart from a few non-housing related exceptions, the CR funds federal programs at their fiscal year 2010 levels.  The short-term spending measure is expected to give Congress enough time to pass a more comprehensive omnibus funding bill for fiscal year 2011 when Congress returns on November 15 for its lame-duck session.  Congress failed to pass a budget resolution or finalize any of the 12 annual appropriations bills before the 2011 fiscal year began October 1. 

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CLPHA Member News

The Akron Housing Authority's innovative use of a geographic information system (GIS) to streamline vacant land planning is featured in the recent Government Matters.

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake joined Baltimore Housing Commissioner Paul Graziano at a ground-breaking ceremony for its cutting edge redevelopment Uplands community. The100 acre site will have 1,100 LEED-certified residences and virtually unlimited bandwidth available with fiber optics throughout.

The Cambridge Housing Authority received its 5th Recovery Act competitive grant, which will be used for energy improvements at the 175-unit Jefferson Park Apartments.

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