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It’s Time to be Heard on NSPIRE

The public review and comment on the proposed NSPIRE physical inspection scoring and ranking methodology is now open. It closes April 27, 2023, and NSPIRE becomes the “law of the land” on Oct. 1, 2023. NSPIRE is the successor inspection protocol of the Uniform Physical Condition Standards (UPCS) and the Housing Quality Standards (HQS). The HQS Inspection Protocol has been in effect since 1979 for Voucher Programs and grant-based programs. The UPCS Inspection Protocol started in 1999 for Multifamily and Public Housing and was later adopted by the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program and HOME Program.

The scoring on REAC inspections is a key element of the process, as it is designed to indicate who is “high-risk” and who is a “high-performer.” The new NSPIRE scoring approach is a dramatic departure from the on used by REAC since 1999. US Housing Consultants Founder and Senior Partner Scott Precourt parsed the scoring system here.  HUD is obligated to respond to all comments, and many of the industry’s comments have shaped the creation of NSPIRE in prior comment periods. You are encouraged to review the notice and let your opinion and quesitons be known to HUD, you can review the instruction on how to submit comments by clicking here.

The NSPIRE standards will apply to Public Housing and Multifamily Housing programs, including Housing Choice Voucher, Section 8 Project-Based and other assisted housing, Section 202/811 programs, and HUD-insured Multifamily programs. Instructions on how to submit comments to HUD can be found here. The agency is obligated to respond to all comments.

In a press release HUD says this new scoring and ranking methodology is intended to:

  • Prioritize health, safety, and functional defects over appearance
  • Focus on the areas where residents spend the most time: their units
  • Improve sampling and providing a more accurate score for property conditions
  • Improve compliance monitoring and enforcement for failing scores
  • Align inspection standards across all HUD-assisted properties
  • Incorporate resident feedback regarding the condition of units

What Are The Differences in NSPIRE?

There are numerous differences between NSPIRE and the predecessor inspection protocols – UPCS and HQS. Housing Quality Standards (HQS) were used for “Results Based” Inspections, and UPCS Inspections were “Risk Based” inspections. A risk-based inspection takes a sampling of results and determines what risk may be present on the entire property and the owner’s general operation. REAC inspection used these risk ratings as a predictive indicator of whether there were likely more significant issues at a property. In comparison, HQS inspections were used to create a punch list for property owners of items that needed to be corrected to participate in a HUD-funded program.

The fundamental difference between HQS and UPCS with NSPIRE is that it combines the aims of a “Risk-Based” approach of using results to encourage better day-to-day compliance and  a “Results-Based” approach which aims to see the issues correctly in a prompt and professional manner. This new hybrid approach aims to ensure a better living environment for residents that is free of hazardous conditions and meets essential building standards.

HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge explains the pivot to NSPIRE thusly: “HUD is prioritizing the health and safety of our residents by taking this step for the first time in 20 years. NSPIRE will formally align expectations of housing quality and consolidate inspection standards across HUD programs to raise the bar for what conditions exist in HUD assisted properties. Everyone deserves to live in a home that is safe. Feedback on our scoring methodology will ensure that millions of homes across the nation are meeting our standards year-round.”

Want to learn more about the new NSPIRE Scoring Methodology, Rules, and Requirements, join us on May 3, 2023 for an informative webinar on the new rules, scoring, and next steps.

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