08/06/2015
IN THIS ISSUE:

Rep. Waters Introduces Legislation to Curtail the MTW Program

On July 29, shortly before the U.S. House left town to begin their mandatory August recess, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), ranking member of the Financial Services Committee, introduced HR 3424, the ‘‘Moving to Work Reform Act of 2015,’’ co-sponsored by Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) a senior member of the committee. This is the second bill regarding the Moving to Work program introduced in the U.S. House during this legislative session (see CLPHA Action Alert 7/9/15).

According to Waters, HR 3424 would, “reform a controversial demonstration program at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) known as the ‘Moving to Work’ (MTW) program” and “seeks to address many of the known shortcomings of the current demonstration program by requiring HUD to subject all future MTW agreements to several new terms and conditions. Specifically, the bill requires any major policy shifts, such as changes in time limits, work requirements, or raising rent burdens for participating families, to undergo rigorous evaluation before taking effect.” 

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Castro-Ramirez Defends PIH Before House Subcommittee

On July 10, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance of the Financial Services Committee held a hearing entitled “The Future of Housing in America: Oversight of HUD’s Public and Indian Housing Programs.”  The sole witnesses to testify were Lourdes Castro Ramirez, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Public and Indian Housing at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); and Daniel Garcia-Diaz, Director, Financial Markets and Community Investment, U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).

In her testimony, Castro Ramirez said that at HUD “ we are constantly reminded of the millions of low-income American households who are not receiving government assistance, and pay more than half of their income in rent, live in substandard housing, or both” noting that “even at current funding levels, with 96% occupancy in our public housing program and at 98% budget utilization in our HCV program, HUD is only able to provide rental assistance to 24 percent of the 19 million income-eligible households, or one of every four eligible households.”

Garcia-Diaz’s testimony covered HUD’s response to recent GAO findings regarding several HUD programs including Moving to Work (MTW) and the Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) programs.  According to Garcia-Diaz of the eight recommendations made by GAO in a 2012 report on the MTW program, HUD has since implemented seven them, while two recommendations concerning FSS in a 2013 report have not yet been fully implemented by HUD. Garcia-Diaz’s testimony mentioned the progress HUD has made to (1) improve its guidance to MTW agencies by requiring that information in their annual reports be quantifiable and outcome oriented, (2) develop and implement a plan for quantitatively assessing the effectiveness of similar activities and the program as a whole, and (3) establish performance indicators for the program.

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CLPHA To HUD: Some RAD Rule Changes Work, Others Raise Concerns

CLPHA joined law firm Reno & Cavanaugh in raising concerns in comments to HUD about some of the agency's changes to the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program contained in its Revised Notice for the program (PIH Notice 2012-32, REV-2).

CLPHA reiterated its strong support for the flexibility RAD gives PHAs to meet "a range of local, critical housing needs in a manner similar to other affordable housing developers." In addition, CLPHA welcomed some revisions to RAD administrative rules and procedures.

For instance, collapsing and consolidating initial CHAP transactional milestones into a single Financing Plan milestone within 180 days represents an improvement. Likewise, the modification of Financing Plan due dates to better align with Low Income Housing Tax Credit (“LIHTC”) timelines and realities.

But CLPHA expressed its concern that certain changes could prove counterproductive. For example, we are concerned that HUD, by making a priority projects with "severe" need could inadvertently incentivize some PHAs to take on inappropriate projects.

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Zillow Seeks CLPHA Partners to Help Low-Income Renters

Zillow, the popular real-estate marketplace, wants to help low-income renters overcome barriers to housing and wants CLPHA members to help.

Zillow has started a "Community Pillar" program for any landlord who minimizes screening barriers to low-income renters. The new branding would be featured on Zillow's websites.    

If you are interested in partnering with Zillow on this effort to encourage landlords and property managers in your communities and networks to become a Community Pillar, contact Zillow at communitypillar@zillow.com to learn more.

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Join the “Caps Hurt Communities” Campaign to End Budget Controls

The Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding (CHCDF) recently launched an effort to press Congress to lift the sequester caps on federal spending that continue to harm individuals and families served by CLPHA members.

CHCDF is asking the affordable-housing community to join the “Caps Hurt Communities” campaign. Here are a few of the actions it's asking participants to take:

•    Join the Caps Hurt Communities Campaign: Visit www.capshurtcommunities.org to join thousands of advocates across the country who are deeply concerned about the effects of sequestration cuts on critical housing and community development programs.

•    Schedule In-district Meetings: In-district meetings are a good way to let your U.S. Representatives and Senators know how you really feel about sequestration budget cuts. Schedule in-district and in-state meetings with your U.S. Representatives and Senators between now and September 7.

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Houston Housing Authority Commits To Energy Efficiency

The Houston Housing Authority (HHA) has taken progressive steps to improve the agency’s energy conservation measures across its public housing communities and the agency as a whole. By taking advantage of federal initiatives, partnering with private companies and local energy providers, the HHA has undertaken a number of projects with an end goal of recouping millions of dollars in energy costs.

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