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HUD today extended the compliance date for National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate (NSPIRE) final rule for Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) and Project Based Voucher (PBV) programs until October 1, 2024. NSPIRE was scheduled to go into effect October 1, 2023. The full notice can be read here.

HUD says it is taking this action to allow Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) additional time to implement HUD’s NSPIRE standards.

Why The Extension for NSPIRE for Voucher Programs?

HUD says that additional time may be necessary for some PHAs to implement NSPIRE for HCV, PBV, and Moderate Rehabilitation (Mod Rehab) programs. If PHAs are not ready to implement NSPIRE now, they are encouraged to use the next 12 months to train staff and communicate with landlords. HUD says it will use the delay to provide additional technical resources needed for PHAs and agencies to transition to the NSPIRE standards. However, HUD encourages any PHA ready to implement NSPIRE to do so at their earliest convenience.

What programs are included?

Under Housing Choice Vouchers, the included programs are:

  • Emergency Housing Vouchers (EHV)
  • Family Unification Program (FUP)
  • Foster Youth to Independence (FYI) InitiativenMainstream Vouchers
  • Non-Elderly Disabled (NED) Stability Voucher Program
  • Tenant Protection VouchersnVeterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) Vouchers
  • Witness Relocation Program

Regarding Project-Based Vouchers: Most Housing Choice Vouchers are “tenant-based,” meaning people can use them to rent any private apartment that meets program guidelines. Project-based vouchers (PBV), in contrast, are attached to a specific unit whose landlord contracts with the state or local public housing agency to rent the unit to families and individuals with low incomes. These are included in this HUD NSPIRE notice.

Regarding the Moderate Rehabilitation program

The moderate rehabilitation program provides project-based rental assistance for low-income families. The program was repealed in 1991 and no new projects are authorized for development. Assistance is limited to properties previously rehabilitated under a housing assistance payments (HAP) contract between an owner and a Public Housing Agency (PHA). Active programs are covered by this HUD NSPIRE notice.

This notice does not have any impact on Project-Based Rental Assistance contracts, Public Housing, or PRAC contract properties. Any property inspected by the Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) is not impacted by this notice.

How do PHAs Request the NSPIRE Extension for PBV and HCV?

HUD says that PHAs wishing to continue using HQS on or after October 1, 2023, need to notify HUD and provide the agency with the date on which they plan to transition to NSPIRE, which can be no later than October 1, 2024. This notification must be sent via email to [email protected] with a courtesy copy to their Field Office representative.nnHUD writes: “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 PHA tentatively plans to implement NSPIRE (which may be no later than October 1, 2024).

Want to switch to NSPIRE before October 1, 2024?

HUD writes: “If a PHA implements NSPIRE after October 1, 2023, but before October 1, 2024, the PHA must notify HUD via email to [email protected] with a courtesy copy to their 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 the PHA will be transitioning to NSPIRE, and what date the PHA will implement NSPIRE (which may be no later than October 1, 2024).” 

What Should PHAs Do to Prepare to Implement NSPIRE?

There are many changes that PHAs will need to undertake to transition from HQS to NSPIRE. These changes include updating Administrative Plans, training inspection staff, and educating participating landlords and residents. NSPIRE is more than just a new checklist and requires many adjustments for those accustomed to HQS, its narrow focus on health and safety concerns eliminates many items that were cited under Housing Quality Standards (HQS).

One of the fundamental shifts is that minor cosmetic issues and routine wear and tear are now considered issues that are best resolved between the landlord and tenant, not the voucher-issuing PHA. Under NSPIRE, PHAs should conduct compliance inspections that focus on the overall safety of a unit and leave normal wear and tear to the tenant and landlord.

This shift will require considerable adjustment to habits, new educational tools for landlords and residents, and new inspection training.nnUS Housing Consultants is working on resources for PHAs to implement NSPIRE for the voucher programs, including short educational videos for training landlord partners, language to add to Administrative Plans, and best practices. The actual standards for NSPIRE are the same for all funding programs, so inspection staff can begin familiarizing themselves immediately – we have online and in-person courses.

Joe Miksch is the Public Relations and Marketing Manager for US Housing Consultants.