Meet Jointly with HUD on Volume of Regulations
PHADA President David A. Northern, Sr.
I was pleased to join the leaders of the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities (CLPHA), the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) and the Moving to Work (MTW) Collaborative in Washington on March 22. CLPHA and NAHRO both had conferences in the nation’s capital that week, so it was an opportune time to convene. We also took the opportunity to meet with HUD officials the same day. PHADA’s Senior Vice President Mark Gillett (Oklahoma City, OK) and Executive Director Tim Kaiser participated, too (see photos below).
Our Joint Letter
The four organizations recently wrote to HUD to express concerns about the heavy volume of regulations and recent new requirements emanating from the Department. A copy of the joint correspondence was published in the March 22 edition of the Advocate and can be accessed here.
(L–R): MTW Collaborative President Tracey Scott (Chicago, IL); CLPHA Vice President LaShelle Dozier (Sacramento, CA); CLPHA President Jeff Patterson (Cuyahoga, OH); NAHRO President Patricia Wells (Oakland, CA); PHADA President David Northern (Houston, TX); NAHRO Sr. Vice President George Guy (Fort Wayne, IN).
One of the key issues we addressed concerned a possible new Annual Contributions Contract (ACC). The Department initiated a series of discussions with the associations and our attorneys that continued until earlier this year. Those discussions revealed irreconcilable differences between the industry and HUD. Consequently, we felt it would be best for HUD drop the initiative. General Deputy Assistant Secretary Dominique Blom announced on March 22 that HUD has, in fact, abandoned its latest initiative to impose an amended ACC on HAs. PHADA appreciates the Department’s decision.
We have made some progress concerning the Build America Buy America (BABA) regulations too. The groups are concerned that BABA will significantly increase our costs and could result in construction delays, among other problems.
The Department recently announced some limited waivers and that most of BABA will not apply to our programs until roughly a year from now. While these moves are a step in the right direction and appreciated, we think HUD should go further and exempt housing programs from BABA altogether. We will be discussing this further with HUD in the coming weeks and keep members apprised.
During our discussion with HUD staff, we also expressed our view that the new NSPIRE physical inspection system should be deferred. We do not believe either HUD or HAs are sufficiently prepared for NSPIRE’s implementation. HUD seemed to tacitly concede this point, announcing that it will allow HAs an option to continue using Housing Quality Standards (HQS) in their voucher programs. (The new NSPIRE standards replacing HQS were supposed to commence on October 1).
One of a few reasons we believe NSPIRE should be deferred is because HUD has not yet responded to our comments on the rule even though we filed them many months ago. In addition, the Department only just released the new scoring methodology after our Washington meeting and there are several problems with it (see page 1 of the new Advocate).
HUD seems to mistakenly believe we cannot adequately guard the health and safety of public housing residents without NSPIRE. In fact, during our meeting, some HUD representatives said they must initiate the new inspections system so residents are protected.
Front Row (L–R): Victoria Brown, Marianne Nazzarro and Dominique Blom of HUD, Mark Thiele (NAHRO), Patricia Wells (Oakland), Ashley Sheriff and Danielle Bastarache of HUD. Center Row (L–R): Tracey Scott (Chicago), LaShelle Dozier (Sacramento), Jeff Patterson (Cuyahoga), Sunia Zaterman (CLPHA). Back Row (L–R): Eric Oberdorfer (NAHRO), George Guy (Fort Wayne), David Northern (Houston), Tim Kaiser (PHADA), Mark Gillett (Oklahoma City).
I pointed out this perspective is incorrect. No one cares more about the health and safety than we local housing professionals who work with, and for, our clients every day. NSPIRE is not in effect now but HAs are still doing their utmost to ensure safe living conditions for those we serve. Moreover, HUD is exempting HCV residents from NSPIRE for the time being. Are their health and safety endangered as a result? The answer is no.
We also raised concerns about program changes under the new HOTMA certification requirements, IT challenges facing both the Department and HAs, and the new fair housing rule. On the last subject, the four groups just sent the HUD General Counsel a letter asking that the Department allow 60 more days for comment on the regulation. We cited the regulation’s vastness and complexity as the basis for the request.
In sum, we had a good discussion with both sides committing to more follow up in the near term to continue the dialogue
The Groups Are On the Same Page
The four organizations are closely collaborating on all these matters as well as our budget priorities in the current congressional session. A copy of our FY 24 budget recommendations can be found on page 5. You will note the organizations are literally “on the same page,” urging Congress to provide adequate appropriations.
Lastly, the leadership of the organizations firmly believe HUD and Congress need to provide HAs more local flexibility, especially when the Department fails to request, or Congress does not provide, sufficient funding. I can assure PHADA members that the association will continue to make this a major messaging point in its communications with the Department and Congress.