On Thursday, March 19, CLPHA sent letters to Congressional leaders and U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson formally requesting $5 billion for the public housing program and $3.5 billion for the housing choice voucher program in emergency supplemental funds and additional regulatory relief for public housing authorities as they work to protect residents and staff during the COVID-19 public health crisis. CLPHA’s funding and waiver requests were based on feedback from members during our COVID-19 member calls.
In the funding request, CLPHA recommended the following amounts be included in the next coronavirus supplemental legislation:
$5.0 billion for public housing authorities in the supplemental. Breakdown as follows:
- Lost revenue: $2.0 billion
- Short term mitigation/operation costs: $1.5 billion
- Emergency staffing, communications, retrofits: $1.5 billion
$3.5 billion for housing vouchers in the supplemental. Breakdown as follows:
- Voucher renewals: $3.0 billion
- Administrative fees: $500 million
- Incremental vouchers: assistance to all households with 30% AMI or less
In the letter to HUD, CLPHA requested regulatory and statutory relief from the PIH and Multifamily programs including blanket statutory waiver authority (and blanket regulatory waiver authority to the extent HUD believes it does not already have it) to ensure that PHAs can receive all needed waivers more expeditiously. CLPHA members requested statutory and regulatory waivers covering:
- Reporting and data submission requirements;
- Requirements involving leaving home or large events;
- Electronic signatures;
- RAD and other PHA affordable housing transactions;
- HUD rulemaking;
- PHAS and SEMAP scoring;
- Monitoring and reviews; and
- The MTW Annual Plan & Process.
In addition to waiving these requirements, our members request that HUD provide additional guidance on several issues, including for:
- Sending out and receiving resident paperwork such as leases in a remote setting;
- Determining temporary versus permanent income loss; and
- Collecting electronic signatures from residents.
After submitting the requests to Congress and HUD, CLPHA Executive Director Sunia Zaterman said in a statement: “The FY20 operating budget for public housing authorities is wholly inadequate to fund the enormous unforeseen cost of COVID-19 emergency expenses combined with estimated losses in tenant rent payments. CLPHA is requesting $8.5 billion from Congress in emergency supplemental funds and urging HUD to provide public housing authorities with the flexibility to respond to the changing situation as needed.”