Rep. Cleaver Defends Public Housing

In a follow up to a wide-ranging discussion between CLPHA and U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO), a member of the House Financial Services Committee and chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressman Cleaver wrote the following article for the CLPHA newsletter:

Defending Public Housing Residents

In a December 5, 2011 story entitled “Gingrich seeks to clarify statements on poor children and work”  CBS reported the following “Seeking to douse a recent controversy, Newt Gingrich said Monday that his assertions about putting poor children to work deal specifically with those who are in public housing projects and other areas with few employed adults.  ‘I've been talking about the importance of work, particularly as it relates to people who are in areas where there is public housing, et cetera, where there are relatively few people that go to work,’ Gingrich told reporters. ‘And this has been interestingly distorted by some people who suggest that the working poor by definition know how to work, which is true - this is why they're called the working poor. I was talking about people who come out of areas and neighborhoods where they may not have that experience.’"

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CLPHA Writes to Washington Post About VASH Program

To the Editor:

In his December 26 piece, Veterans Affairs claims progress in ending homelessness among vets, Steve Vogel accurately depicts the achievements of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) voucher program, but this story of progress runs much deeper.  With Congressional leadership, federal, state and local agencies are creating new innovative models to address what has been seen as an intractable problem, by focusing on intergovernmental cooperation that can have much broader applicability to other federal programs.

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CLPHA Members Discuss Experiences with HUD-VASH

On December 16, representatives of eighteen CLPHA member agencies came together to discuss their experiences with the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program. CLPHA convened the conference call after hearing concerns about agencies’ ability to increase and maintain the program’s success, as detailed in the December 2 CLPHA Report. While most of the housing authorities on the call have developed strong, collaborative relationships with their partner Veterans’ Affairs Medical Centers (VAMCs), they also share a number of concerns about the structure of the program.

Though HUD-VASH has now been operating for years, many housing authorities still face challenges stemming from the fact the lack of regular and consistent staffing at VAMCs and the slow pace of referrals even after staff has been hired. One housing authority reported that the VA has given VAMCs permission to start the process of hiring staff even before the award of this year’s vouchers to address these problems. This is progress. However, filling staff vacancies over time continues to impede the program.

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New HUD Website on Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD)

HUD has launched a Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) website. The website currently includes background materials, authorizing legislation text, and examples of potential recapitalization under the demonstration, which will allow 60,000 public housing and mod rehab units to convert their subsidy streams to long-term Section 8 contracts or project-based vouchers, facilitating access to private debt and equity. HUD anticipates publishing a proposed RAD program Notice in the first half of 2012, open to public comment. The proposed Notice and instructions for comment will be posted on the website when available. Following consideration of the comments received, HUD will produce a Final Notice. When the Final Notice, application, and contractual documents have been published HUD will accept applications for participation. HUD plans to regularly update the RAD website to help stakeholders stay up-to-date on these milestones. Questions can be addressed to rad@hud.g

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HUD Announces $3.6 million in Choice Neighborhood Planning Grants

CLPHA housing authority members Cincinnati, Cuyahoga, Sacramento County, and Washington, D.C. are the lead grantees in four of the 13 communities selected to receive $3.6 million in Choice Neighborhoods Planning grants; in 11 of 13 grantees, the lead grantee is a housing authority.

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Administration Publishes Proposals to Align Rental Housing Policies

In order to “better align the operation of Federal rental policy” across and within agencies, the Administration created the Rental Policy Working Group (Working Group) comprised of the White House Domestic Policy Council, National Economic Council, Office of Management and Budget,  and the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture, and the Treasury.  CLPHA attended the two stakeholder meetings the Working Group held in July 2010 and July 2011, where groups were charged with identifying areas of concern.  Lead staff from HUD’s Office of Multi-Family Housing (HUD-MF), the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development (USDA-RD), and Treasury’s Office of Tax Policy helped to prepare the document of proposals published December 31, 2011


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HUD Meeting to Discuss Merger of Public Housing Operating and Capital Funds

HUD Assistant Secretary Sandra Henriquez recently convened a meeting with CLPHA and other industry groups to discuss ways to provide greater fungibility between the operating and capital funds, including the potential merger of the two.  The Department believes such a consolidation will benefit the public housing portfolio by allowing more administrative streamlining and creating a better, more widely understood real estate platform. Citing the fact that project-based affordable housing programs tend to have more reliable annual appropriations, particularly those programs that rely on private debt, the Department hopes that such a consolidated funding approach could give the public housing program the platform it needs to see more consistent and dependable appropriations as well as improved ability to leverage private capital to address backlog and future maintenance.

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HUD Publishes FY12 Choice Neighborhoods Initiative Notice of Funding Availability for Implementation

On January 10, 2012, HUD published the FY12 Choice Neighborhoods Initiative Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for Implementation Grants.  CLPHA will provide a more detailed report and analysis in the coming weeks.  Please contact CLPHA Research and Policy Analyst Theresa Finney Dumais with any questions regarding the NOFA.

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Going Green Conference Videos, Presentations Now Online

A number of presentations and videos from CLPHA-HUD two-day conference in July 2011 on greening public housing are now available on the HUD and CLPHA websites. The presentations cover a range of topics, from financing energy efficiency to how to get the most out of an energy audit.  The videos, which were filmed and edited  by the Housing Authority Insurance (HAI) Group, include:

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