To help improve tenant safety and HUDs’ oversight of the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, REAC will
introduce a new inspection protocol called UPCS-V; with the “V” signifying “Voucher”. UPCS-V introduces new measures to enhance the consistency and objectivity of the inspection process, and will provide more information about the condition of individual housing units. Congress expressed the need to update the housing quality standards in order to reflect current advances in home inspections and changes to standards of health and safety threats in homes today. Through this initiative, HUD aims to clarify and streamline inspection processes for PHAs and inspectors, while increasing owners' and tenants’ access to detailed information about their homes.
The primary goals of UPCS-V are to:
- Ensure health & safety of tenants.
- Align standards more closely with other HUD programs.
- Provide insight to the condition of assisted housing.
- Enhance HUD’s oversight abilities.
To reflect these changes, HUDs REAC (Real Estate Assessment Center) has been working with HUD policy, engineering, construction and IT experts to develop the new protocol. In order to include the latest safety standards, HUDs Office of Lead Hazards Control and Health Homes (OLHCHH) also has been included in planning of UPCS-V.
What are some of the changes HUD is considering with the new inspection standard?
- Use of a deficiency driven protocol, not going through a static checklist. A new classification system for describing the nature of deficiencies (L1, L2, L3, E, LT). Deficiencies would be classified on an escalating scale, from minor (L1) to significant (L3), and critical deficiencies may be further classified as life threatening (LT) or emergency (E).
- A new data transmission tool. The data would allow to generate the Unit Condition Index which will provide valuable information to tenants, homeowners and PHAs about the condition of the unit. All UPCS-V inspection data would be submitted to HUD using a standardized file format.
- Integration of IT system. One of the advantages of creating a new inspection standard is the ability to integrate new technology into a prototype system such as UPCS-V. HUD envisions inspectors to conduct inspections on a handheld device in order to capture deficiencies. It would also support the use of photographic evidence and enable real-time recording of inspection findings. HUD would provide a data exchange framework for inspection data (.XML file) that can be integrated to existing systems.
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