Jim Armstrong, PHADA Policy Analyst
On March 28, 2020, Congress and the President enacted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act providing supplemental appropriations for the public housing Operating Fund ($685 million), Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) administrative fees ($850 million), and Housing Assistance Payments ($400 million). On April 28, HUD published Notice PIH-2020-07 concerning Operating Fund supplemental appropriations and Notice PIH 2020-08 concerning HCV program administrative fees.
On May 1, 2020, during a regularly scheduled COVID-19 webinar, HUD staff announced that CARES Act Operating Fund and administrative fee supplemental appropriations could not be used for costs incurred prior to April 28, and in subsequent discussions HUD staff indicated that those funds could not be used for expenses incurred prior to May 1, 2020.
PHADA was surprised and concerned with this announcement for several reasons. Congress approved these supplemental appropriations, “…to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, including to provide additional funds for public housing agencies to maintain normal operations and take other necessary actions during the period that the program is impacted by coronavirus.” HAs had spent significant sums addressing COVID-19 matters for 2 months or more prior to CARES Act enactment and 3 months or more prior to publication of HUD’s notice. HUD’s announcement was out of step with Congress’s intentions. While HUD’s notices clearly state that these funds must be spent before December 31, 2020 (unless the Secretary extends that deadline), the notices does not address a beginning date for the use of these funds.
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