On January 5, 2005, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) published Notice PIH 2005-2, describing threshold requirements that must be met by public housing authorities submitting designated housing plans (DHP). In order to provide additional clarity and make the Notice a more effective tool for all stakeholders, the Department has developed the following questions and answers (Q/A), which will be updated periodically:
1. Question: Are PHAs still required to submit their plans to the Special Applications Center (SAC) in Chicago to be reviewed?
Answer:: No, following the publication of the Notice, the Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing (PIH) signed a Re-delegation of Authority effective January 7, 2005, assigning responsibility for reviewing requests for plan renewals to the respective local HUD Public Housing Field Offices. New plans will be reviewed by PIH Public Housing Management and Occupancy Division, with input from the local HUD Public Housing Field Offices. The mailing address for submitting new plans is:
Office of Public and Indian Housing
Public Housing Occupancy and Management Division
451 7th Street
S.W., Washington, DC 20410
2. Question: Are there any other requirements for designating housing besides those described in Notice PIH 2005-2?
Answer: : No, PHAs are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the 'suggestions for preparing an approvable plan' contained in the appendix to the Notice. Additionally, see the checklists contained on the HUD Web site regarding PHAs submitting requests for new and renewal Plans. If followed closely, these suggestions can make the difference between preparing a plan that is thorough, compliant and approvable, as opposed to one that has more questions than answers.
3. Question: The Notice requires PHAs to justify that the proposed designation is necessary to achieve the housing goals for the jurisdiction under the Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy (CHAS). Since this is no longer referred to as such in most official documents, but rather as the "Consolidated Plan", would it be permissible to refer to the Consolidated Plan as a valid source of information for justifying a proposed designation?
Answer: Yes. The guidebook for reviewing designated housing plans has been updated accordingly to reflect this change
4. Question: How much time does HUD have to review plans and communicate its decision to the PHA?
Answer: According to the statutory requirement contained in Section 7 of the U.S. Housing Act of 1937, HUD has sixty (60) days to complete its review and communicate its decision (approval/disapproval) to the PHA submitting the plan/request.
5. Question: What happens to the plan if HUD fails to complete its review and notify the PHA of its decision within the specified sixty (60) days?
Answer: Per Section 7 of the Housing Act (referenced above), if HUD fails to communicate its decision to approve or disapprove a plan within the sixty (60) day time frame, the plan is considered to be automatically approved.
6. Question: Can HUD suspend the sixty (60) day review time frame in order to obtain additional information from the PHA, if such information would help to make the plan approvable?
Answer: Unfortunately, HUD does not have the legal authority to suspend the clock. However, the Department will make every reasonable effort to work with the PHA to submit the necessary information in a timely manner. If the PHA is unable to provide the required supplemental information within the agreed upon time frame, and the information is essential in order to evaluate the Plan, HUD would have to disapprove the Plan.
7. Question: How long does a new plan remain in effect once approved?
Answer: Once approved, new plans remain in effect for five (5) years from the date of initial approval and, at the PHA's request, may be renewed for additional two (2) year increments.
8. Question: Is there a due date for a PHA to submit a written request for plan renewal?
Answer: PHAs are encouraged to submit their requests for renewal at least 90 days prior to the expiration of their existing plan. PHAs should consider that HUD has a statutory time frame of sixty (60) days allowed for the review of a Plan. If the renewal request is received less than 60 (sixty) days prior to expiration, HUD may be unable to process the request.
9. Question: Would PHAs receive reminder notification for plans that are about to expire?
Answer: The local Public Housing Field Offices are responsible for sending out six (6) months and ninety (90) day reminder notices to PHAs with plans that will expire soon, along with information about items that will need to be addressed in their submission. The Field Offices will also notify PHAs when plans have expired. The designated projects or portions of a project will then convert to a mixed population development on the date the original plan expires.
10. Question: For plan renewals, what specific information should Field Offices request that PHAs include in their submission in order to avoid delays associated with requests for additional information from Field Offices to PHAs?
Answer: A thorough review of the updated checklist for reviewing renewal applications in conjunction with the suggestions described in the appendix to the Notice regarding the preparation of approvable plans, should help Field Offices provide PHAs with pre-submission guidance that also reduces and perhaps eliminates the need for additional information requests.
11. Question: Section X(A) of the Notice (Renewal of Plan) states "Where the statutory requirements of the original plan are being met and there are no unanticipated adverse impacts on the housing resources for the group not being served due to the designation, the PHA should submit a certification attesting to this and addressing the following??". Does this mean that the PHA should submit a formal certification such as a notarized statement, or could the submission by itself suffice?
Answer: A letter from the PHA on its official letterhead, signed by the Executive Director is sufficient to satisfy the certification requirement.
12. Question: If a PHA has experienced a change in the number of units that was originally approved for designation, should the PHA report such change in its request for renewal?
Answer: It is important that PHAs indicate any changes between the number of designated units at initial approval and renewal. If there is a significant change in the number of designated units, the PHA will need to submit a new plan.
13. Question: What is the effective date for initial/renewed Plans?
Answer: The effective date for new Plans is the date that is stamped on the approval letter. For renewals, the effective date is the day following the expiration of the last approved plan/request.
14. Question: If after submitting an application to amend an existing plan, HUD determines that a new plan that encompasses all units to be designated would be more appropriate because the requested amendment will radically alter the original plan, what happens to the plan that is already in effect?
Answer: If the new plan is approved, it becomes effective for another five (5) year duration from the date of approval, regardless of how much time is left on the old plan.
15. Question: If after receiving approval to designate housing for elderly-only families, a PHA determines that it has more vacant units than its projection for elderly families, can it admit near elderly families to fill vacancies in the designated project (s)?
Answer: Yes. Section VIII(G) of the Notice states "If the housing agency determines there are insufficient numbers of elderly families to fill al the designated units, the housing agency may provide in the Plan that it will admit a near elderly family to a project (or portion of a project) designated for occupancy by only elderly families".