Extends Compliance Date to October 1, 2024, with Request to HUD
On September 29, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued PIH Notice 2023-28 titled "Implementation of National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate (NSPIRE) Administrative Procedures for the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Programs. The notice finalizes the administrative procedures of NSPIRE for the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) and Project-Based Voucher (PBV) programs, which will replace Housing Quality Standards (HQS), and became effective for the HCV and PBV programs on October 1, 2023.
The Notice can be found here.
HUD notes that “[w]ith respect to inspections conducted on and after the implementation of NSPIRE… this notice replaces all HQS guidance previously issued by HUD, including the Housing Inspection Manual for the Section 8 Existing Housing Program, Chapter 10: Housing Quality Standards of the 2001 Housing Choice Voucher Program Guidebook, and HUD forms 52580 and 52580-A.”
As announced in late September in the Federal Register, HUD extended the compliance date for HCV and PBV programs until October 1, 2024. The Notice reiterates that while compliance is not required before that date, HUD encourages any housing authority (HA) that is ready to implement NSPIRE to do so at their earliest convenience. Agencies are highly encouraged to implement NSPIRE as soon as feasible after October 1, 2023, but must comply with NSPIRE Standards no later than October 1, 2024.
Agencies must report the decision to continue using HQS or another approved alternative standard to HUD by sending an email to: NSPIREV_AlternateInspection@hud.gov with a courtesy copy to the Field Office representative. The email’s subject line must read “Notification of Extension of HQS, [PHA Code]” and the body of the email should include the PHA name, PHA code, a statement that HQS will continue to be used, and what date the HA tentatively plans to implement NSPIRE (which may be no later than October 1, 2024). This email must be sent no later than 45 days from the issuance date of this notice.
Further, if an HA implements NSPIRE after October 1, 2023, but before October 1, 2024, the PHA must also notify HUD via email to: NSPIREV_AlternateInspection@hud.gov with a courtesy copy to the Field Office representative. The email’s subject line must read “Notification of Implementation of NSPIRE, [PHA code]” and the body of the email should include the PHA name, PHA code, a statement that NSPIRE will now be used, and what date the HA is implementing NSPIRE (which may be no later than October 1, 2024).
PHADA members are encouraged to review the notice in full, but a few additional details are discussed below:
- Scoring – the NSPIRE Scoring Notice does not apply to the programs covered in this notice. HCV, PBV, and Mod Rehab inspections are not numerically scored and NSPIRE retains pass/fail indicators. Pass inspections require no further action by the HA, family, or landlord. A failed inspection will require follow-up, reinspections, or verification to confirm the correction of the failed standards. Each individual NSPIRE Standard indicates whether a deficiency would result in a pass or fail for the unit under the HCV programs.
- Inspection Variations – NSPIRE does not alter the existing flexibilities that allow HAs to propose, for HUD approval, acceptability criteria variations. After an HA’s implementation of NSPIRE, previous variation approvals under HQS that do not align with NSPIRE Standards must be re-reviewed by HUD. PHAs must determine if any previously approved variation they wish to continue is now a variation of the NSPIRE Standards just as they did under HQS acceptability criteria. If the PHA determines the need for a variation still exists, they must submit a request to HUD utilizing the process detailed in the Notice.
- Alternative Inspection Methods – NSPIRE did not alter existing flexibility for PHAs to rely on alternative inspection methods. HAs may utilize inspections of housing assisted under the HOME program, housing financed using Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), inspections conducted by HUD/REAC, or alternative methods otherwise approved by HUD to comply with inspection requirements. Any alternative inspection method that is not HOME, LIHTC, or otherwise conducted by HUD, will need HUD review and approval. Agencies that wish to rely on an alternative inspection method requiring HUD approval must be sent to HUD utilizing the process detailed in the Notice.
- Updated NSPIRE Inspection Form – Agencies can continue to use HUD forms 52580 and 52580-A until they implement NSPIRE, or until October 1, 2024, whichever is sooner. When an HA implements NSPIRE, HUD strongly encourages PHAs to use the NSPIRE inspection app as soon as it becomes available. Agencies may also utilize the NSPIRE Standards available online, use an application provided by a commercial vendor based on final NSPIRE Standards (currently 3.0), or the basic checklist that will be provided on HUD’s website in the future.
- Use of Software – HUD will provide a future application that HAs and HA inspectors can use on mobile devices or tablets for the HCV and PBV programs. HUD states that this tool will be aligned with the NSPIRE standards and will include HCV pass/fail indicators. Agencies can choose to use the tool, software, or application that works best for them and their program, as long as the tool is based on the latest version of the NSPIRE Standards (currently 3.0).
- Training – HUD has developed training that includes a combination of PowerPoint presentations, infographics as well as instructional videos that are posted on the NSPIRE website. HUD states that additional training will be made available in the future.