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HUD Notices on Streamlining, Energy Efficiency, OCAFs, DDAs, QCTs, SAFMR and VAWA
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued Housing Notice 2016-09 on October 3, 2016.  This notice addresses Streamlining administrative regulations for multifamily housing programs.  Topics of this rule include, verification of social security numbers, change in definition to extremely low income, exclusion of mandatory education fees from income, and reexamination of family income and composition.

The October 4, 2016 Federal Register published HUD’s notice for public comments on utility benchmarking for HUD-assisted multifamily housing.  The proposal seeks to track utility consumption and examine energy and water efficiency of the development, and compare it to similar developments.  The properties covered include those with more than 20 units assisted through: Section 202 Project Rental Assistance Contracts (PRAC), Section 811 PRAC, Section 202/162 Project Assistance Contracts, Section 202 Senior Preservation Rental Assistance Contracts, Section 8 Housing Assistance Payment contracts, Section 223(a)(7), 223(f), 221(d)(3), 221(d)(4), 220, 231, 236, and 241(a). Comments on the notice are due to HUD December 5, 2016.

The October 5, 2016 Federal Register published HUD’s Notice establishing the operating cost adjustment factors (OCAFs) for Section 8 project-based rental assistance contracts with an anniversary date on or after February 11, 2017. OCAFs are annual factors used to adjust the operation cost (non-mortgage portion) of rents for certain HUD programs.

The October 17, 2016 Federal Register published HUD’s Statutorily Mandated Designation of Difficult Development Areas and Qualified Census Tracts for 2017 for the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC). LIHTC developments in DDAs or QCTs are eligible for as much as 30 percent more LIHTC.  This year’s DDAs are modified to address HUDs Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Small Area Fair Market Rents (SAFMRs), FY 2016 income limits, and 2010 Census population counts. HUD also basis QCTs based income and poverty data released in the American Community Survey (ACS).  The effective date of the new QCTs and DDAs is January 1, 2017.

The November 16, 2016 Federal Register notice published HUD’s final rule implementing SAFMRs for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (“HCV”) Program.  The SAFMRs are intended to change the rent subsidy to, HUD believes, be more accurate of local markets by allowing for higher rents  and rent subsidy in higher income areas, and lower rents and rent subsidy in lower income areas.  This would have the effect of lowering rent subsidy for certain existing HCV families after two years, giving some time before a family would feel forced to move.   The rule contains a number of additional criteria and exceptions. HUD also published a notice in the same Federal Register explaining SAFMR selection criteria.
 
The November 16, 2016 Federal Register also contains HUD’s Final Rule implementing the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which protects victims of domestic violence in HUD programs.  The Rural Development programs are expected to issue a follow on Unnumbered Letter for its housing programs. This is a very detailed regulation, but basically it requires covered housing providers to develop and implement an emergency transfer plan for covered victims of domestic violence to move them to a safe unit. Victims are not limited to women but to victims regardless of gender.  The rule requires a Notice of Occupancy Rights to applicants and tenants and procedures for applicant screening and responses to and remedies for victims.

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