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Please Submit Comments Now to HUD’s Proposed NSPIRE Rule

Proposed Changes Will Affect All Agencies As Early As April 1, 2023

On June 17, HUD released a proposed rule and request for comments on the National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate (NSPIRE) and Associated Protocols. This request for comments is a complementary document to the Economic Growth Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act: Implementation of NSPIRE proposed rule, released in January 2021. The Department is requesting comments and will consider them in response to their request before publishing a final notice of standards in the Federal Register.

HUD is requesting comments on the specific NSPIRE standards related to all programs, the incorporation of the HOTMA list of life-threatening items into the NSPIRE standards, the proposed rule, specific input on certain items considered to be material enhancements related to health and safety from UPCS and HQS, according to the Department, in addition to questions related to specific deficiencies.

 

Please Submit Comments Now

Comments are due no later than August 1, 2022, and should be submitted electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal.

PHADA encourages all agencies, which will be affected by these proposed changes as early as April 1, 2023, to submit comments. To assist you as you draft your agency-specific comments, please refer to the bulleted points below. Please use the information as the foundation for your agency-specific challenges, local codes and standards, inspection experience, and program implications.  

The proposed rule released in June can be found in the Federal Register. The NSPIRE Standards can be found here.

Should you have any questions, please contact Crystal Wojciechowski, PHADA Policy Analyst, at: cwojciechowski@phada.org.

 

Agency Suggested Comments to the NSPIRE Proposed Rule

  • The Department should not roll out the NSPIRE model in a piecemeal approach. At this time, our agency has not had an opportunity to review NSPIRE in full, including the scoring protocol and related administrative notice. As a result, our agency is being asked to provide input without the full details of the new model. Before the NSPIRE standards, scoring protocols, and administrative notice can be finalized, all stakeholders should have an opportunity to evaluate it comprehensively.
  • It is essential that there is ample time permitted for clarity and buy-in by landlords to ensure successful rollout of NSPIRE in the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program. An NSPIRE Standard in the HCV program will be an entirely new system, a system in which key stakeholders, like landlords, have not been fully informed nor prepared to date. The Department should consider a much later rollout in the HCV voucher program to ensure it does not result in any decrease in utilization, or units lost in the program given current challenges and limited supply nationwide.
  • To provide ample time for communication, training, and technical assistance for all agencies and critical stakeholders, like landlords, the Department should consider a rollout date much later than April 1, 2023.
  • A period of transition from UPCS and HQS to NSPIRE will be obligatory. Agencies must have at least one round of advisory scores under the new protocol before being subject to any HUD enforcement tools, and all stakeholders will need training and technical assistance throughout.
  • Any increased regulatory and administrative burdens should solely result from a careful and objective evaluation of the worthiness of such changes based on reliable data and should take into consideration risk to housing choice and unit availability, particularly in the HCV program, and should take funding and appropriations into consideration.
  • If NSPIRE standards require significantly increased costs to agencies, like the proposed changes to smoke alarm deficiencies, for example, these changes should be combined with adequate funding to implement. HUD should request additional funding from Congress to execute. Our agency understands the rationale for these provisions and is supportive of them. However, funding needs to be provided given the increase in costs to agencies, considering inadequate capital funding.
  • Tenants have a major role in influencing the condition of their units and so, agencies should not be penalized for tenant-caused damages. Any new standard should make considerations for and find solutions to resident use of units and tenant-caused damages. Our agency proposes a simple solution: negate any point deductions for damage to the unit caused by residents when that damage has not been reported or repair work is underway or in process (materials ordered or work scheduled). Agencies can easily provide documentation to substantiate resident noncompliance.
  • HUD should ensure that the NSPIRE standards and protocols do not supersede local codes and standards, nor place additional requirements on agencies outside of their scope and expertise. For example, except for the plumbing infrastructure in agency-owned properties, housing authorities do not have an impact on the quality of water sourced from public water systems. Drinking water is regulated by the EPAs “Clean Water Act,” and states generally take primacy in the implementation of requirements. The Department should maintain the status quo as it relates to this issue, and allow federal, state, and local entities with jurisdiction over public water quality to carry out appropriate monitoring and enforcement activities.

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