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Department of Housing and Urban Development News Briefs - April 2012

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced a pilot program in February to test an accelerated approval process for the purchase or refinancing of low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) properties. The Multifamily Low Income Housing Tax Credit Pilot program aims to streamline and expedite FHA mortgage insurance applications for LIHTC properties in order to meet the LIHTC program's tight external deadlines. FHA's Office of Multifamily Housing Programs says it can reduce from one year to as little as 90 days the Section 223(f) application review and approval times for LIHTC-assisted properties. The pilot's initial phase will permit permanent financing applications for low risk transactions, which include recently constructed and occupied properties; preservation and moderate rehabilitation of Section 8 properties; and resyndication of older, stabilized LIHTC properties. FHA is launching this first phase of the pilot program in Chicago, Detroit, Boston and Los Angeles. Read more about the program on page 41.

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The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provided $108 million in Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) allocations to 68 tribes in 19 states. IHBG funds are intended to benefit low-income families living on Indian reservations or other communities. The grants will support housing development, assistance for housing developed under the Indian Housing Program, housing services for eligible families and individuals, and crime prevention and safety programs. The list of recipients under this funding round is available at the HUD website.

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As part of the Obama administration's Open Government Initiative, HUD launched a public database to help researchers better understand the characteristics of households that receive assistance through the department's rental programs. The new Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) database includes household-level data for 5 percent of households assisted through the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV), public housing, project-based Section 8, and Section 202 and 811 programs. Data on family type, household income, race, gender and other characteristics of unidentified households will be included. To protect households' privacy, HUD says it will mask data for variables with a high identification risk. The database will also provide geographic details about where tenants live, whether they are located in a metropolitan or urban area, and the poverty rate for the location's census tract. Researchers can use this data to calculate results and statistical relationships at levels of demographic or geographic detail not available in HUD's tabular reports. The PUMS database can be accessed at the HUD User site.

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HUD published guidance in February detailing actions that public housing agencies (PHAs) administering the HCV program may take to streamline administrative practices and reduce costs. In PIH Notice 2012-15, the department outlined 14 ways that PHAs can decrease their administrative costs, including closing the waiting list for vouchers, eliminating waiting list preferences, conducting tenant briefing sessions in groups, and removing any unnecessary steps in the annual income reexamination process. The guidance also listed actions that PHAs can take to optimize the administration fees received, which include reviewing program expenses allocations, maximizing leasing, and recovering amounts from tenants that are due as a result of fraud or abuse. A copy of the notice is available at the HUD website.

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HUD, in another notice to PHAs in February, explained the procedures that PHAs are required to use for verifying social security numbers and social security benefits of applicants, participants and household members at the time of application for rental assistance and during mandatory household income reexamination. Notice PIH 2012-10 also details the procedures for effective use of the Enterprise Income Verification (EIV) System's Identity Verification Report to reduce subsidy payment and administrative errors. The notice applies to the public housing, Section 8 moderate rehabilitation, project-based certificate, project-based voucher, and HCV programs. It supersedes PIH 2010-03, which contained similar guidance. PIH 2012-10 can be downloaded from the HUD website.

Journal Category:

Department of Housing and Urban Development

Authors:

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