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HUD Provides Additional COVID-19 Waivers for Public Housing Agencies

On November 30, 2020, HUD released Notice PIH 2020-33 (HA), Rev-2, which provides several COVID-19 waivers for Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher programs. This notice extends and modifies waivers and administrative flexibilities established in the CARES act with Notice PIH 2020-05 on April 10, 2020.

This notice restates the waivers provided in April, carrying forward those actions taken with the CARES act, and provides additional waivers and administrative flexibilities. In this notice, HUD clarifies the purpose of these waivers:

HUD also encourages PHAs to utilize waivers and alternative requirements to expand housing assistance opportunities, including to families on waiting lists; providing affordable, safe housing during this time assists in addressing issues like homelessness and overcrowding that contribute to risk factors during the COVID-19 pandemic

New COVID-19 Waivers for Public Housing

The notice details those waivers which are carried over as well as their new expiration dates. The following are the new waivers added with this notice:

  • PH-13: Over-Income Limit: Termination Requirement waives the termination requirement for an over-income family and, alternatively, requires the PHA to charge the family the applicable Fair Market Rent as the family’s monthly rental amount.
  • PH-14: Annual Choice of Rent waives the requirement that a family may not be offered a choice between a flat rent and an income-based rent more than once a year.
  • 12.d.: Section 6(j) 1- and 2-Year Substantial Improvement Requirements tolls the timing for determining substantial improvement for PHAs designated as troubled prior to the date of this notice and that have not received a Public Housing Assessment System (PHAS) assessment for the first full fiscal year after the initial notice of the troubled designation. 

New Waivers for Housing Choice Vouchers

The Housing Choice Voucher program also has new waivers added:

  • HQS-5: HQS Inspection Requirement: Biennial Inspections now provides the alternative requirement that, at a minimum, the PHA must require the owner’s certification that the owner has no reasonable basis to have knowledge that life-threatening conditions exist in the unit or units in question instead of conducting an initial inspection.
  • HCV-5: Absence from Unit requires the PHA to maintain documentation in the tenant file which explains the extenuating circumstances that caused the extended absence.

This notice provides two additional alternative requirements related to the Section 8 Management Assessment Program (SEMAP).

  • 11b-1: SEMAP allows field offices to perform remote SEMAP confirmatory review instead of an on-site confirmatory review before changing any rating from troubled to standard or high performer.
  • 11b-2: SEMAP waives the requirement for PHA submission of an annual SEMAP certification in the Inventory Management System–PIH Information Center (IMS- PIC) within 60 days of fiscal year-end (FYE) during the timeframe HUD is rolling over prior year scores.
  • Finally, the regulatory authority for item 11b: SEMAP is corrected to 24 CFR § 985.105.

Housing Authorities adopting any of the exemptions should update their Admissions and Continuing Occupancy Policy (ACOP) and Administrative Plan to reflect any of the waivers adopted by the agency. However, the notice does provide for provisions to implement updates without formal board approval.

Should you have any questions about this notice or updating your ACOP or Administrative Plan to incorporate implemented waivers, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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