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HOME Program Switch to UPCS

HOME Program Switch to UPCS Still Pending, but Agencies Already Preparing for the Change

HOME Program Implementation of UPCS Standards
Last year, a proposed rule was introduced that would change the inspection protocol for HOME program participants from HQS to UPCS. While this rule is still pending, we are receiving a lot of questions from agencies who are preparing to implement UPCS on their oversight of HOME participating projects. Most of the questions that we have received relate to the implementation of UPCS, more than the actual nuts and bolts of the inspection code.

What determines Pass and Fail?
Unlike HQS, the UPCS Inspection Code has no inherent definition of "Pass or Fail" associated with each violation. Instead, the inspection code simply rates deficiencies on the degree of damage and leaves the rating associated with the inspection violation to the enforcement agency. The regulations for HOME state that at the initial qualifying UPCS Inspection, the unit or project must repair any and all UPCS Violations. So, in essence, any violation at all on a new unit inspection would constitute a failure. We are working with other agencies to adopt rules that would create a scale on "Failing" annual inspections that would allow for minor issues to be recorded without failing the unit and requiring a re-inspection.

Is there a different checklist for single unit projects as opposed to multifamily?
There are various forms and field guides available for UPCS, but the inspection code itself does not require a checklist. We train our staff inspectors to allow the building and/or unit to "be the checklist", by which we mean that the inspector should simply look at all components inside and outside the unit and look for inspectable items that are not operating as intended. Once you have determined that the inspectable item is not operating as intended, you can then record the violation by finding the deficiency in UPCS that best describes the condition. In short, this inspection can be done on any building or unit, as you are simply looking at the installed components and determining if they are working properly or not - so there is no variance on the code for different building or unit types.

Can we implement Local Codes instead of UPCS?
Yes, as explained in a public conference call with HUD on the subject of the proposed rule changes to (HOME) the participating jurisdiction (PJ) can opt to use local code or UPCS "whichever is more stringent". This does not mean that you have to adopt local code or UPCS for all violations, but instead that you can create a "blended" guideline for the specific jurisdiction. So, for example, in the state of XYZ, the local code requires GFCI protection at outlets near sinks, which UPCS does not, so the violations can be changed from "GFCI does not work" to "GFCI does not work or there is an outlet near water source that is not GFCI protected". We at US Housing Consultants are in the process of creating a custom guidebook that would allow PJs and HFAs (for LIHTC application) to record in a single book where they have adopted different standards.

We are going to continue to publish new articles as the change to UPCS is confirmed and implemented. As with the adoption of UPCS by the Tax Credit program, the distinction between "REAC" and "Using UPCS" is quite vast and so far, not clearly defined. Using custom guidebooks and software (such as our product InspectCheck) will allow agencies to smoothly transition and clear up the lack of clarity...

Compliance X-Files: A Monthly Journal of the Most Interesting Compliance Files

This month we received a Move In file for approval for a property with both HUD and Tax Credit funds, and the applicant was a single, expectant mother, who was 18 years old, a full-time student, and pregnant. The family was income eligible, but the student rules for the Tax Credit and HUD program made it complex to determine if this household was eligible. What we determined was that in this scenario, there are different rules for admissions for the HUD program, as opposed to the Tax Credit Program, when it comes to an expectant mother, under the age of 24, who is also a full-time student. Here are the rules for each funding program:

Tax Credit

  • Sally applies to XYZ Apartments, which is a Tax Credit property. She is applying by herself and is 18 years old. She indicates on her application that she is expecting a child, is a full-time student, and is not a dependent of someone else. Is Sally eligible for this property?
  • YES- According to the IRS, an unborn child is a member of the household for both determining whether the household is income qualified and applying the student exception rules. Sally can be considered eligible for an apartment.

HUD

  • Debbie applies to ABC Apartments, which is a HUD Section 8 property. She is applying by herself and is 20 years old [original stated 24 years old]. She indicates on her application that she is expecting a child and is a full-time student. Is Debbie eligible for this property?
  • NO-- According to HUD regulations, any person applying to HUD Housing who is a full-time student, who is single and who is expecting a child is not eligible to live in HUD Housing. The unborn child is only taken into consideration for purposes of establishing the student's income eligibility and applicable unit size. Debbie does not meet the eligibility requirements because she is applying by herself, is a full-time student and does not have a dependent!

So, was the family in the scenario we started with eligible - No. She was not eligible as she did not meet the HUD criteria under HUD's student rule, and when you have both funding programs in effect, the "most stringent" would apply. 

REAC & Reasonable Accommodations

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