On October 10, 2018, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a notice of proposed rulemaking titled “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” (83 FR 51114) (the “Notice”). The Notice proposes to expand the basis upon which a non-citizen seeking adjustments to their residency or visa status are likely to become a “public charge.”
Currently, a “public charge” is defined as an individual who is “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence,” as demonstrated by the individual’s receipt of certain public cash assistance or long-term institutionalized care at the government’s expense. The Notice proposes to expand the list of benefits considered in the public charge analysis to include, among other things, public housing, Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, and Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance. In other words, receiving federal housing assistance could negatively impact a non-citizen program participant’s visa status.
After a November 19 conference call with CLPHA members who shared feedback on the proposed rule, CLPHA and counsel Reno & Cavanaugh drafted public comments in opposition for the following reasons:
- DHS appears, by definition, to attack and punish the successful administration of Section 8 and Public Housing programs to the individuals for which they are intended. In other words, the litmus test is no longer whether an individual is “primarily dependent” on government assistance. Rather, it is whether an individual participates in these housing programs at all.
- The Proposed Rule seems to demand that eligible families decide between accessing essential housing assistance or maintaining their ability to enter or remain in the United States. Either choice will have detrimental results—the family foregoes access to decent, safe, affordable housing or is deemed a public charge.
- The practical result of the Proposed Rule is to penalize families for participating in the very housing programs that are meant to serve them. This directly contradicts the mission of PHAs, and as such, we respectfully submit that the Proposed Rule be abandoned in its entirety.
- The Proposed Rule, even at this stage, holds a detrimental impact on the communities we serve.
- PHAs across the country are experiencing increased demands on their already limited and underfunded resources because of the ambiguity and confusion caused by the Proposed Rule.
Final comments are due Monday, December 10, 2018. If you have any questions about our comments or the proposed public charge rule, please contact CLPHA Research & Policy Analyst Emily Warren, email@example.com, or 202-638-1300 ext. 103.
On November 29, CLPHA attended a meeting at HUD headquarters with other industry groups to discuss changes to the inspection process. Recent news coverage has highlighted instances in which inspection scores do not accurately reflect living conditions and overall declines in the number of inspections for properties.
At the meeting, an official from HUD’s office of public affairs noted that the department has received an increased number of media and FOIA requests related to inspections in the last few years. HUD officials also acknowledged that the current inspection standards are 20 years old and an update and review of those standards is needed in order to maintain safe environments for residents and to ensure that scores accurately reflect housing conditions.
In addition to flaws in the scoring system, the group discussed other factors that may be contributing to inaccurate scores, such as lack of capacity at HUD field offices to monitor inspections and inadequate inspector training. Senior HUD PIH officials discussed some potential changes to the scoring system and protocol, as well as measures to increase enforcement including shorter inspection notification periods and requiring inspections of properties currently undergoing rehabilitation.
CLPHA remains concerned about the current inspection protocol’s ability to distinguish between safe and unsafe properties, and HUD’s lack of oversight for owners whose properties receive failing scores. HUD should also acknowledge that reduced capital and operating funds for public housing have greatly affected the ability of PHAs to maintain safe living conditions for their residents and that a comprehensive approach is needed through inspection protocol changes, stricter enforcement, and adequate funding for maintenance and repairs.
HUD officials reported that they will continue to explore possible changes and are considering holding listening sessions with PHAs and property owners in the spring, with a potential demonstration project for a new inspection protocol beginning in summer 2019.
In other news, HUD officials also reported at the meeting that a notice on the Annual Contributions Contract (ACC) is expected shortly. CLPHA strongly advocated for reconsideration of HUD’s earlier changes to the ACC.
Contact CLPHA Research & Policy Analyst Emily Warren for questions or further information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yesterday, CLPHA and counsel Reno & Cavanaugh submitted public comments in opposition to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) proposed rulemaking titled “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” (83 FR 51114) (the “Notice”). The Notice proposes to expand the basis upon which a non-citizen seeking adjustments to their residency or visa status are likely to become a “public charge.”
The proposed public charge definition would include, among other things, public housing, Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, and Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance. In other words, receiving federal housing assistance could negatively impact a non-citizen program participant’s visa status.
The practical result of the Proposed Rule is to penalize families for participating in the very housing programs that are meant to serve them. Because this directly contradicts the mission of PHAs, our comments call on DHS to abandon the Proposed Rule in its entirety.
Our detailed comments focus on the following concerns:
- The inclusion of housing assistance in the determination of a public charge, when eligible
- status is an existing pre-requisite for program participation, creates confusion among residents and otherwise
- undermines the mission of those programs.
- The Proposed Rule is increasing the administrative burden on PHAs across the country,
- despite proposing no direct changes to the housing programs administered by PHAs.
- Access to decent, safe, affordable housing is necessary for building healthy communities
- and increasing family self-sufficiency.
On August 16, HUD published a new notice, Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing: Streamlining and Enhancements (the “Streamlining Notice”), soliciting public comments on amendments to the Affirmatively Further Fair Housing (AFFH) regulations. HUD had previously published its final AFFH rule in 2015, but implementation of the rule and its various assessment tools has since been suspended. HUD is now interested in making amendments to the existing AFFH regulations, as the previous requirements were found by the agency to be ineffective and overly prescriptive.
Attached are CLPHA’s comments on the Streamlining Notice. Our primary points were threefold:
- An amended rule should clarify when a PHA has met, or will meet, its obligation to affirmatively further fair housing. Additionally, HUD should create safe harbor standards that provide protection from potential litigation for PHAs that make good faith efforts in their analysis of fair housing impediments.
- HUD should provide PHAs with funding and additional resources to support any data collection and assessment activities required under an amended AFFH rule.
- An amended AFFH rule, and any subsequent tools, should not disregard HUD and PHAs’ commitments to preserving safe, decent, affordable housing for existing communities.
To view our full comments, please click here. If you have any questions about our comments, the Streamlining Notice, or AFFH, please contact CLPHA Research & Policy Analyst Nicole Barrett, email@example.com, or 202-638-1300 ext. 112.
In December 2017, HUD released a Notice announcing a new program for public housing authorities: the EnVision Centers Demonstration. The demonstration, which will include approximately 10 communities, is designed to test the effectiveness of collaborative efforts across governments, nonprofits, industries, and the housing sector in four core areas: economic empowerment, educational advancement, health and wellness, and character and leadership.
Our comments reflected significant concerns about the EnVision Centers Demonstration. HUD provides limited incentives to participate in the EnVision Centers Demonstration for housing authorities who are already operating under significant funding constraints. Additionally, despite the focus on economic self-sufficiency and mobility, the Demonstration does not include proposals for strategic partnerships with private sector employers, nor does it include strategic targeting of existing federal workforce, health, and education resources. Our comments also highlighted our concerns about the lack of a robust cross-sector data infrastructure, which has created barriers for housing authorities engaging in this work.
The proposed elimination of the tax exemption for private activity bonds (PABs) in the House tax reform bill, along with elimination of the Historic Tax Credit and the New Markets Tax Credit, will be devastating to the production and preservation of affordable housing (see CLPHA Report 11/13/17). Housing bonds are responsible for approximately half of Low Income Housing Tax Credit (housing credit) production annually. Together, the housing credit and housing bonds finance approximately 50,000 affordable housing units each year.
While Congress is home for recess, it is critical that Members hear from you about the impacts PAB elimination will have on affordable housing.
We urge you to reach out to your Congressional representatives with the following messages:
- Preserve the tax exemption of Private Activity Bonds to support the production and preservation of affordable housing
- Make changes to the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit to strengthen the program and offset the impact of a lower corporate rate on the value of the tax credit by including S. 548, the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, in the tax reform bill
- Maintain the Historic Tax Credit and the New Markets Tax Credit
CLPHA and stakeholders such as the ACTION Campaign (CLPHA sits on the Steering Committee) have continued to educate and press Congress to preserve these important housing production instruments. CLPHA has sent letters to the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee, the respective tax-writing committees in Congress, whose chairmen and ranking members will probably serve as floor managers for their respective bills and conference committee leaders for any eventual, final legislation.
Additionally, we encourage you to engage with your local media and news outlets to spread the message that the tax reform bill negatively impacts affordable housing. The Seattle Times recently published an op-ed from CLPHA Board Members Stephen Norman (King County Housing Authority) and Andrew Lofton (Seattle Housing Authority) about the elimination of private activity bonds. You can read the full op-ed here.
As the summer August recess winds down, members of Congress, who are currently back home in their districts and states, will soon be returning to the nation’s capital to face a busy fall agenda. High on the agenda is funding the federal government for the coming fiscal year 2018, which begins Oct. 1.
It is reported that Congress may package the eight remaining appropriations bills (out of twelve) into one megabus spending bill. For HUD, this would require the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to agree upon the unresolved issues in their respective FY18 funding bills. If Congress is unable to complete action on the megabus (or any other joint spending measures) by Sept. 30, a continuing resolution (CR) will be needed to keep the government running and funded at current levels. Of note to CLPHA members, a CR will not provide increased funding for THUD programs and will not enable lifting of the RAD cap as proposed in the Senate bill. Adding to the uncertainty, President Trump has threatened to shut down the federal government if he does not get funding for his border wall.
While both the House and Senate funding bills repudiated most of the Trump Administration’s budget proposals, the Senate THUD bill, in particular, offers higher funding levels than the House bill, including funding for the Public Housing Operating Fund, Public Housing Capital Fund, Housing Choice Voucher program, the Choice Neighborhood Initiative, Homeless Assistance Grants, the Community Development Block Grant, the HOME Investment Partnership program, and others. The Senate bill would also completely eliminate the arbitrary unit cap, as well as the public housing application deadlines for RAD.
CLPHA members need to urge members of Congress to fund important housing programs.
Before Congress returns to the nation’s capital and becomes distracted by other matters, it is critical that CLPHA members reach out to their members of Congress and encourage them to support funding for public housing, housing vouchers and other HUD programs.
We strongly urge CLPHA members to contact their members of Congress before the end of the August recess and ask them to support no less than the Senate committee-passed HUD appropriations funding levels for FY18, and the elimination of the RAD cap.
For questions or additional information, please contact: Gerard Holder, CLPHA Legislative Director firstname.lastname@example.org