PUBLIC NOTICE: COVID-19 Statutory and Regulatory Waivers for the Housing Choice Voucher Program

Posted 07/30/2020

Updated January 15, 2021

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, HUD published Notice PIH 2020-33(HA), REV-2 on November 30, 2020 which extends the availability date of the waivers provided in Notice PIH 2020-05, PIH 2020-13 and also provides some additional waivers not previously granted for the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP). The waivers provide administrative flexibilities and relief to Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) in response to the COVID-19 national emergency. In order to continue to provide for the health, safety, and well-being of our staff and customers and to effectively administer our HCVP, SC Housing has adopted the following waivers and alternative requirements that have a direct impact on our customers:

HCVP Waiting List - Opening and Closing: Public Notice

Regulatory Authority: 24 CFR § 982.206(a)(2)

Sub-regulatory Guidance: Notice PIH 2012-34

Description: The HCV program regulations require that when a PHA opens its waiting list, the PHA must give public notice by publication in a local newspaper of general circulation and also by minority media and other suitable means. Recognizing the foreseeable difficulties in complying with this requirement in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, HUD is waiving this requirement and is providing an alternative requirement that the PHA may provide public notice in a voicemail message on its main or general information telephone number and through its website. PHAs must comply with applicable fair housing and other civil rights requirements when they provide public notice under this alternative requirement, including ensuring effective communication with persons with hearing, visual, and other communication-related disabilities.

Period of Availability: The period of availability ends on June 30, 2021.

SC Housing actions: When SC Housing choses to open the HCVP waiting list, we will provide at least two weeks advance notice on the department main phone line, (803-896-8888). SC Housing will also provide at least two weeks advance notice on the agency website (www.schousing.com).

Housing Quality Standards (HQS) Inspection Requirement – Biennial Inspections

Statutory Authority: Section 8(o)(D) of the USHA of 1937

Regulatory Authority: 24 CFR §§ 982.405(a), 983.103(d)

Description: The statute and the regulations require the PHA to inspect the unit not less often than biennially during the term of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contract. HUD is waiving this requirement and is allowing PHAs to delay biennial inspections of units. The PHA may rely on the owner’s certification that the owner has no reasonable basis to have knowledge that life-threatening conditions exist in the unit(s) in question. At a minimum, the PHA must require this owner certification.

Period of Availability: The PHA must resume biennial inspections by June 30, 2021 and must conduct all delayed biennial inspections no later than December 31, 2021, pending HUD guidance and/or further waiver extensions..

SC Housing actions: SC Housing will require the landlord to sign and return the owner certification form that the owner has no reasonable basis to have knowledge that life-threatening conditions exist in unit or units in question instead of conducting an annual inspection. Beginning July 1, 2021, SC Housing will schedule and provide written notice to participants and landlords of the required inspections. Both parties are reminded of their requirement to continue to maintain the unit in accordance with HQS requirements.

HQS Interim Inspections (Also called Special Inspections)

Statutory Authority: Section 8(o)(8)(F) of the USHA of 1937

Regulatory Authority: 24 CFR §§ 982.405(g), 983.103(e)

Description: The statute requires that upon notification to the PHA by a family or government official that the assisted unit does not comply with the HQS, the PHA must inspect the unit within 24 hours of when the PHA received the notification if the condition is life-threatening. 24 CFR 982.405(g) provides that if the reported condition is not life threatening, the PHA must inspect the unit within 15 days. The regulation further provides that in the event of extraordinary circumstances HUD may waive the 24-hour or the 15-day inspection requirement until such time as an inspection is feasible. HUD is waiving these requirements and establishing an alternative requirement for HCVP units. If the reported deficiency is life-threatening, the PHA must notify the owner of the reported life-threatening deficiency and that the owner must either correct the life-threatening deficiency within 24 hours of the PHA notification or provide documentation (e.g., text or email a photo to the PHA) that the reported deficiency does not exist. In the case of a reported non-life-threatening deficiency, the PHA must notify the owner of the reported deficiency within 30 days and the owner must either make the repair or document that the deficiency does not exist within 30 days of the PHA notification or any approved PHA extension.

Period of Availability: The period of availability ends on June 30, 2021. After June 30, 2021, the PHA must conduct the HQS inspection in accordance with the applicable time periods upon notification by a family or government official that the assisted unit does not comply with the HQS.

SC Housing actions: SC Housing will require the landlord to provide photo verification that the repair has been completed or that it did not exist. Failure to comply will result in the HAP being abated until the unit is in compliance with HQS unless it is determined the deficiency is tenant caused which will not result in abatement but will still require photo verification within the prescribed time frame.

HQS Quality Control Inspections

Regulatory Authority: 24 CFR § 982.405(b)

Description: The regulations require PHAs to conduct supervisory quality control inspections of a sampling of units under contract. HUD is waiving this regulatory requirement.

Period of Availability: The period of applicability ends on June 30, 2021.

SC Housing requirement: SC Housing will reinstitute HQS QC inspections in conjunction with completing all the FY2022 SEMAP requirements.

Housing Quality Standards; Space and Security

Regulatory Authority: § 982.401(d)

Description: The regulation establishes a minimum standard for adequate space for an HCVP assisted family. Specifically, it requires that each dwelling unit have at least 1 bedroom or living/sleeping room for each 2 persons. HUD is waiving this requirement for PHAs where the PHA wishes to assist a current participant that needs to add a member or members to the assisted household as a result of the COVID-19 emergency, and the additional family members would result in the unit not meeting the space and security standards. This provision does not apply to an initial or new lease. A participant must not enter into a new lease for a unit that does not comply with the space and security standards.

Period of availability: For any family occupying a unit that does not meet the space and security requirements pursuant to this waiver, the waiver will be in effect for the duration of the current lease term or one year from the date of the HUD notice (November 30, 2020), whichever period of time is longer.

SC Housing requirements: SC Housing will follow-up with the family and landlord at least 30 days before the lease term ends to determine if a new lease will be offered on the one year date.

Automatic Termination of HAP contract

Regulatory Authority: 24 CFR § 982.455

Description: When an HCV family’s income increases to the extent that the housing assistance payment is reduced to $0, PHAs are required by this regulation to automatically terminate HAP contracts 180 days after the last housing assistance payment to the owner. In recognition that the COVID-19 emergency is creating economic and employment instability for many families, as well as situations where families may on a temporary basis be adding members whose additional income may result in a $0 HAP subsidy calculation, HUD is waiving this requirement. As an alternative requirement, the PHA, upon written notice to the owner and family, may extend the period of time following the last payment to the owner that triggers the automatic termination of the HAP contract. The extension beyond the normally applicable 180 days is determined by the PHA but may not extend beyond June 30, 2021

Period of Availability: The period of availability for the extension ends June 30, 2021. The PHA may not extend the HAP contract beyond June 30, 2021.

SC Housing requirement: SC Housing provided written notice to all families and landlords that are currently in $0 HAP that the termination date has been extended to June 30, 2021. All families that enter $0 HAP status effective January 1, 2021 or later will be under the original 180 day requirement.

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