The Moving To Work (MTW) program, authorized by section 204 of the Omnibus Consolidated Rescissions and Appropriations Act of 1996, offers a limited number of housing authorities the opportunity to design and test innovative strategies for addressing the needs of their tenants and communities.
MTW agencies have the flexibility to find new approaches that accomplish three primary statutory goals:
- Reducing cost and achieving greater cost effectiveness in federal expenditures;
- Giving incentives to families with children where the head of household is working, is seeking work, or is preparing for work by participating in job training, educational programs, or programs that assist people to obtain employment and become economically self-sufficient; and
- Increasing housing choices for low-income families.
There are currently 39 housing authorities with MTW status. Each has an agency-specific MTW agreement with HUD, detailing the flexibilities granted in order to meet program goals. All existing agencies have had their agreements extended through the end of 2028. Each year, the housing authority completes an annual plan, to be approved by HUD, and an annual report on the outcomes achieved. Congress authorized the expansion of the MTW program to 100 additional agencies in the 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act. HUD anticipates the first cohort of new agencies will be added in 2020.
CLPHA, Industry Groups, 777 Public Housing Authorities Implore Congress to Provide an Additional $8.5B in Emergency Supplemental Funding for PHAs Plus Longer-Term Preservation Resources for Public Housing in Light of the COVID-19 Pandemic
On Wednesday, April 8, CLPHA and other public housing industry groups the Moving to Work (MTW) Collaborative, the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO), the Public Housing Authorities Directors Association (PHADA), and 777 public housing authorities sent a letter to Congressional leadership urging Congress to allocate additional funding and resources for PHAs to help them continue to provide safe and affordable housing during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The letter implores Congress to appropriate additional emergency supplemental funding, housing vouchers, long-term funding, and other resources that will help PHAs not only survive and recover from the COVID-19 crisis, but also preserve their portfolios for years to come. In the letter, the signatories call for the following provisions in the next COVID-19 stimulus package and beyond:
1) An additional infusion of $8.5 billion for the public housing operating fund and the Section 8 Voucher Program
2) An increase in the supply of Housing Choice Vouchers, including $2.0 billion for 150,000 new Tenant Protection Vouchers (TPVs) and a robust increase in voucher program funding
3) A $70 billion investment in public housing infrastructure
While acknowledging that the recently passed CARES Act provides for $3 billion for public housing, housing choice vouchers and project based rental assistance, the signatories stress that this amount is not nearly enough to allow PHAs to continue to operate their agencies through the end of the fiscal year. Substantially more funding and resources, both in the short and long term, are critical for PHAs as they serve their low-income, vulnerable households during and after the pandemic.
The Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh (HACP), a Moving to Work (MTW) agency, has been working in partnership with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Middle Atlantic Region (NNLM MAR) to improve digital and health literacy within their public housing communities. Through their Mobile Computing Lab initiative and grant funding from NNLM MAR, HACP has expanded their outreach to vulnerable public housing residents, including children, seniors, and refugees, to provide greater access to health and wellness information, improved awareness of diseases and illness, and improved access to treatment and preventative health measures. As an MTW agency, HACP is provided with additional flexibilities around operations and funding, which allows the agency to pursue innovative strategies and partnerships to improve life outcomes for residents.
HUD has provided a path forward for a first-in-the-nation partnership between Minnesota’s largest public housing authorities: the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA) and the Metropolitan Council Housing and Redevelopment Authority (Metro HRA). HUD stated that they are supportive in concept of the two PHAs forming the nation’s first Regional Moving to Work (MTW) partnership and has allowed the partners to move forward with the planning and implementation process. If officially approved by HUD, MPHA and Metro HRA’s partnership will be the first such arrangement in the nation.
MPHA and Metro HRA will combine efforts to make it easier for families with housing vouchers to move where they wish across the metro area, including to neighborhoods they feel offer the best chance for economic success.
Initially, the partners expect to establish a shared pool of Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers and combine their administrative muscle to streamline processes and help families achieve geographic and economic mobility. Other metro area housing agencies could later choose to join the partnership. Together, MPHA and Metro HRA serve more than 44,000 people in the Twin Cities through federal, subsidized housing programs.
“Today, low-income families with a voucher who want to move for better opportunity, employment, or affordability run into invisible lines and hurdles that make it much harder than it should be,” said MPHA Interim Executive Director Tracey Scott in a press release. “Now MPHA and Metro HRA will be able to try things no one in the country has tried before to lower those barriers and empower families to meet their goals.”
In a statement from the MTW Collaborative, MTW Collaborative President and CLPHA Board Member Andrew Lofton, said of MPHA and Metro HRA’s announcement:
“Today we celebrate a first-of-its-kind achievement under the Moving to Work demonstration. MTW agencies are widely recognized as experts and innovators when it comes to developing creative solutions to serve and provide housing for their residents and broader communities. Minneapolis PHA continues to be a leader in examining and testing new ways to achieve greater efficiency, expanded choice, and increased economic opportunity for participants – lessons that will benefit the entire industry. MTW is a powerful tool for change and this new regional partnership in Minneapolis represents what can be achieved when local communities can develop solutions to their local challenges.”
Public Housing ACC and Mixed Finance Amendment to the ACC
On Friday, November 8, 2019, HUD published proposed revised forms of the Public Housing Authority Annual Contributions Contract (“ACC”) and Mixed Finance Amendment to the ACC (“MFACC Amendment”) for public review and comment. The revised form ACC and MFACC Amendment were published as part of a 30-day Paperwork Reduction Act process (“2019 ACC Notice”).
HUD previously published a revised form ACC as part of a 60-day Paperwork Reduction Act Process on December 27, 2018 (“2018 ACC Notice”). CLPHA submitted comments with its counsel, Reno & Cavanaugh, PLLC, to the 2018 ACC Notice expressing, among other things, deep concern regarding HUD’s attempt to substantively change the relationship between PHAs and HUD without proper notice-and-comment rulemaking.
According to HUD, the ACC and MFACC forms were revised after the 2018 ACC Notice comment period as follows:
- Deletion of the term “HUD Requirements,” which term would have required PHA compliance with HUD-issued notices;
- Deletion of the definitions for “Operating Receipts” and “Program Receipts, ” which definitions appeared to restrict all program and operating funds to public housing expenditures;
- Exclusion of all mixed-finance specific language from the ACC and incorporation into the MFACC;
- Replacement of broad authority to reduce, offset, terminate, recapture, withhold, suspend, and reduce grant funding with “remedies allowed by the Public Housing Requirements”;
- Deletion of unrestricted access to PHA records.
The deadline to submit comments on the new forms is December 9, 2019.
Access the 2019 ACC Notice here.
Access HUD’s detailed side-by-side comparison chart of the revisions to from the 2018 ACC form here.
MTW ACC Amendment
On Friday, November 8, 2019, HUD also published a revised form of the Moving to Work Amendment to the Annual Contributions Contract (“MTW ACC Amendment”) for public comment. The revised form MTW ACC Amendment was published as part of a 30-day Paperwork Reduction Act process (“2019 MTW ACC Notice”). The MTW ACC Amendment will govern the participation of the 100 new PHAs in the MTW Demonstration expansion.
HUD previously published a revised form MTW ACC Amendment as part of a 60-day Paperwork Reduction Act Process on December 27, 2018 (“2018 MTW ACC Notice”). Reno & Cavanaugh, in conjunction with the MTW Executive Steering Committee (now MTW Collaborative), submitted comments on the 2018 MTW ACC Notice. Those comments, among other things, raised concerns that the MTW ACC Amendment provided less flexibility to new MTW agencies and mandated new, more burdensome requirements. Read the comments here.
According to HUD, the MTW ACC Amendment was revised after the 2018 MTW ACC Notice comment period as follows:
- Extension of the term of the amendment from 12 to 20 years;
- Clarification that exemptions contained in the Operations Notice for the Expansion of the Moving to Work Demonstration Program applies to sub-regulatory requirements;
- Clarification that a transition plan is not needed a year prior to termination if participation in the program is extended;
- Deletion as a remedy for default HUD’s ability to suspend, reduce, or offset funding.
Access the 2019 MTW ACC Notice here.
The deadline to submit comments on the new form MTW ACC Amendment is December 9, 2019.
CLPHA’s Membership Spotlight features the outstanding work and achievements of our member public housing authorities - the nation’s largest and most innovative PHAs. Based on interviews with PHA executives, these brief profiles spotlight our members’ initiatives to strengthen their communities and improve life outcomes for their residents. The Membership Spotlight is published in the newsletter, on clpha.org, and on our social media platforms.
In a few months, the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities (CLPHA) will bid farewell to an innovative, valued, and dedicated member who is a true asset to the public housing community. After nearly 30 years in the affordable housing industry and 11 years at the Oakland Housing Authority (OHA), OHA Executive Director Eric Johnson announced his plan to retire at the end of 2019. Johnson’s three decades of service to the affordable housing industry show his commitment to the individuals and families served by public housing authorities, as well as his enthusiasm for finding creative solutions to address the needs of low-income populations.
Johnson came to work in affordable housing from a completely different industry: Hollywood. In the 1980s Johnson worked as a location manager for various films, including Prizzi’s Honor and Turner and Hooch, but he sought a more meaningful career path. Johnson decided to accept a job in housing and rent stabilization with the City of West Hollywood, and through this career change he developed his passion for increasing housing opportunities for those who need them most. After several years at the City of West Hollywood, in 1996 he joined the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) in their resident services department.
During his tenure at HACLA, Johnson fulfilled a variety of roles in several departments, including serving as the head of the housing authority’s Housing Services Department, which included the property management, resident services, and capital improvements departments. He views his work under the Hope VI program in Los Angeles’ Boyle Heights neighborhood simultaneously as one of his greatest successes and challenges at HACLA – though the legal issues and negotiations with the community proved difficult and drawn-out, Johnson is proud of the project’s result and the stakeholders’ ability to find common ground in the end. He does regret that HACLA was unable to convince HUD at the time to build more units at increased density at the sites.
In 2008, Johnson accepted the role of deputy executive director at OHA, a move he also remembers being a significant career challenge because it was difficult for him to leave the Los Angeles communities he loved behind. However, upon moving to Oakland he quickly employed the negotiation skills he displayed during the Boyle Heights project in settling a legal battle between OHA and the City of Oakland. In the decade since, OHA’s relationship with the City has vastly improved, a testament to Johnson’s talents of bringing stakeholders together. Johnson demonstrated strong leadership in this deputy role, and in 2010 he was appointed OHA’s executive director.
At OHA, Johnson has deftly leveraged the housing authority’s Moving to Work (MTW) status to collaborate with local partners around the common goal of serving low-income individuals and families. Johnson is proud of the numerous programs developed under his tenure that link the housing authority’s capacity and resident services with existing federal, state, and local programs and improve life outcomes for various populations of low-income Oaklanders. Using a data sharing agreement between OHA and the local school district, the housing authority has been playing a role in increasing school attendance and parent engagement for their youngest residents.
In 2015, Johnson helped bring a $2.7 million HUD Jobs Plus grant to OHA, funding the housing authority’s successful jobs training and placement program. Another OHA program, in partnership with the Alameda County Social Services Agency, is using the foundation of the California Work Opportunities and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program to provide short-term housing assistance and Section 8 waitlist preference to families experiencing homelessness. Another program offers sponsor-based wraparound services to 125 families, including 25 foster youth exiting the juvenile justice system. Johnson says that without MTW flexibility, OHA programs like these that improve life outcomes for children, foster youth, families experiencing homelessness, and other populations needing targeted housing services would not be possible.
When asked about the public housing industry’s greatest needs, Johnson stressed that housing authorities need to seek diverse sources of funding and become much less dependent on federal, state, and local monthly federal assistance payments. Another area of great need, and of opportunity, that Johnson sees is the development of workforce housing for households making 60 to 120 percent of Area Median Income (AMI). Johnson believes that housing authorities could do more to address the housing needs of people who do not qualify for traditional housing assistance, yet cannot afford market-rate housing. “If we want to be seen as a protected and valuable industry, we need to serve these people [in the middle],” says Johnson. He adds that by addressing the workforce housing population, the public housing industry can build more support from communities and elected officials.
Johnson was reluctant to position himself as an expert when asked if he had any advice for public housing professionals, but he observed that his experience moving between different skill sets and departments at HACLA, including resident services, development, and capital improvement, and becoming knowledgeable in as many areas as possible, helped him to understand the industry from several angles. He also emphasized the importance of always remembering who public housing authorities serve. “Affordable housing is not about the housing, it’s about the people who live in the housing, and their life outcomes,” he said. “Never forget this.”
In OHA’s press release announcing his retirement, Greg Hartwig, Chair of the housing authority’s Board of Commissioners, praised Johnson’s successful career at OHA and his passion for improving residents’ life outcomes: “Eric has exceeded our highest expectations and has been a pleasure to work with… He has always kept the welfare of our residents and the need to expand our reach to serve even more people as his highest priority; adding new life-enhancing services for our residents and significant numbers of new affordable housing units. His leadership in mitigating the effects of the worst rent and housing crisis in Oakland history has been exceptional. In addition, Eric has positioned OHA for long term success in an era of uncertain government funding and has won both local and national recognition. He will be dearly missed by all of us.”
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf also praised Johnson’s leadership and unwavering focus on resident wellbeing: “Oakland city leaders have benefited immensely from Eric’s leadership at the Housing Authority, and many more of our vulnerable residents and families enjoy a sense of housing security thanks to his personal mission to make federally funded programs work better for those who most rely on them. As a member of the city’s Housing Cabinet, Eric approached his role with a refreshing blend of technical expertise and humanity. During the worst affordable housing crisis in a generation, Eric has created initiatives which serve as a model for the region, and consistently fought to break down silos in the human service sector that have historically kept communities from ending cycles of poverty. My colleagues and I will miss him dearly and wish him well in all his future endeavors.”
When asked about his retirement plans, Johnson deadpanned that he would “float in the pool” at his house in Palm Springs. After three decades of exceptional, innovative service to the affordable housing industry and many years of engaged CLPHA membership, CLPHA wishes Johnson a happy and relaxed retirement.
Image captions (from top to bottom, left to right): Johnson with children at Lockwood Gardens “School’s Out Block Party;” "Never give this man a mic" - Johnson addresses OHA Employees at their annual all-staff retreat; Ceasar Chavez Day at HACLA's old Aliso Village with Ethel Kennedy and the HOPE VI team; 2018 groundbreaking event for a VASH project-based Section 8 project currently under construction; With Congresswoman Barbara Lee and HUD Secretary Julian Castro after a meeting with Tech Industry Leaders to discuss the housing crisis in the Bay Area; With Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and others cutting the ribbon at the Grand Opening of OHA’s new Parents And Children Together (PACT) site, expanding the number of units for this reunification/re-entry program