Our Cocktails and Compliance ladies, Rue and Janel, made their way to the NAHMA Biannual Meeting and OPTECH 2023 conferences recently and continued some important conversations while also listening to extensive updates on all things affordable housing. These events had lots to talk about, including TRACS 203A, legislation surrounding the industry, and current market outlooks. Grab a cocktail or mocktail and take a sip every time you read HOTMA as we explore what’s being talked about recently.
Rue and Janel’s favorite thing to talk about: TRACS 203A! Most of the Affordable Housing industry would’ve guessed that HUD’s guidance on TRACS 203A would become available by Q4 but, unfortunately, we are still waiting. The TRACS working group did meet throughout 2023 and with the deadline for implementation of HOTMA originally being January 1st, 2024, many in the industry expressed nervousness at the delay of response.
In October, we saw HUD release the Housing Notice 2023-10, a 112-page document with guidance on HOTMA implementation. However, there was still little guidance on when it’s actually going to roll out. What we know right now is although HOTMA is going into effect for January 1st, 2024, your properties will not start being held to compliance of HOTMA until January 1st, 2025. This means the industry has a bit more runway to get HOTMA implemented and have effective training on the changes.
By March 31st, 2024, Tenant Selection Plans and EIV policies and procedures must be updated to reflect HOTMA rules and discretionary policies, however, you should continue to follow your existing Tenant Selection Plans and EIV policies & procedures until your software is compliant with TRACS 203A.
Software vendors are currently coordinating and working together knowing HUD properties need to have TRACS 203A-compliance in place by October 1st, 2024 so you can work on your ARs for January 2025.
The Renters Bill of Rights is a continuous point of discussion in Washington. HUD residents already have those protections in place; however, the intent is to expand that to other areas. Within the Renters Bill of Rights, HUD recently shared a notice addressing the ban of junk fees as well as pending guidance on things like tenant screening, specifically with criminal records and credit.
HUD also issued a press release in October announcing their expansion of the ConnectHomeUSA initiative to bridge the digital gap for HUD-assisted families. This is the first time since 2020 that HUD is accepting new communities into the initiative to put in place the key elements of a digital inclusion program.
Housing stability and supply is a consistent topic at Affordable conferences. The main goal of the Biden-Harris Administration’s housing policy is to create an economy where everyone has access to a safe and affordable home. The goal is to help renters who are struggling with high rental costs, with a particular focus on building and preserving rental housing for low- and moderate-income families as well as bringing homeownership within reach for Americans who, today, cannot find an affordable home because there are too few homes for sale in their communities.
Three programs within the American Rescue Plan -- the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERA), the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF), the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) -- support families by providing much needed resources to keep them in safe, stable, healthy homes in thriving communities. These programs are at the center of the Department of the Treasury’s (Treasury) efforts to support renters and homeowners as part of the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also in October, the Biden Administration announced awards of more than $100 million from HUD through the Inflation Reduction Act, which now stands as the largest investment in clean energy and climate action ever for the U.S. These awards are intended to help renovate homes of more than 1,500 low-income households use zero energy and climate resilient.
The hope is that these renovations will demonstrate the potential to preserve quality, affordable housing and the long-term viability and affordability of our nation’s existing stock of affordable housing. They also believe this will advance fair housing by increasing housing options for all communities.
In addition, the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Energy opened applications for the Low-Income Communities Bonus Credit program, which will spur up to 1.8 GW (gigawatts) of clean energy investments annually in underserved communities. The program, also created by the Inflation Reduction Act, provides a bonus credit of up to 30% of the qualifying investment of the Investment Tax Credit for building clean energy projects. The Low-Income Communities Bonus provides a separate tax credit boost of up to a 10 or 20-percentage point for small solar and wind projects placed in service in low-income or Tribal communities.
As we frequently say, we encourage you to actively participate in one or more affordable housing associations to stay on top of changes and let your voice be heard. Reach out to your representatives and help educate them. If you are a member of an association, they will help prepare you for those conversations.
Several topics were mentioned regarding the affordable housing market with much emphasis on insurance, NSPIRE, senior housing shortage, and artificial intelligence.
Insurance was one of the biggest concerns among those at NAHMA, with one member reporting a 400% increase in premiums. Industry surveys conducted found that nearly 1 in 3 policies had rate increases of 25% or more. Additionally, natural disaster claims are having the biggest impact on premium increases, as areas are more populated than in previous years and thus claims are increasing rapidly.
Our advice is to work with your insurance broker to negotiate deductibles and explain any losses or claims over the past year. You can also install stovetop fire suppressors, water sensors, cameras, electronic fences and license plate readers to reduce some of your insurance costs. Don’t forget to let your insurance brokers know when these are installed. Be sure to watch out for habitability exclusions as this is where you can be sued.
When it comes to NSPIRE, the focus is now on the HUD implementation. While members asked for consistency across HUD, Tax Credit and Rural Development housing, HUD said they have conversations with other agencies but can't compel them to use it. Some NAHMA members are still waiting on scores from July. They were told inspectors can't get inspections loaded to the national system and there is apparently little flexibility with scheduling. One member spoke up saying they had 3 site inspections scheduled in the same city on the same date.
HUD is currently working on streamlining timing and adopting similar schedules across programs. Around 5% of properties are rated as troubled and will receive annual visits. HUD is working on establishing baselines in relation to the MOR score after 2022 in conjunction with the current risk rating.
NAHMA members noted seeing an increase in fraudulent documents submitted by applicants. While they can train staff in spotting these incongruencies, the fraudulent documents continue to improve in their apparent legitimacy as technology also evolves. If you're having issues with fraudulent documents at one or more of your properties, ResMan now offers a fraud detection solution that can help you easily detect fraudulent documents in the future. Let’s chat.
Artificial intelligence (AI) remained one of the hottest topics at OPTECH, but it’s very clear that not everyone has the same definition of AI, as it frequently gets confused with automation. AI is technology that learns through examples and data while automation is software that automatically repeats repetitive tasks based on implemented and pre-generated processes and inputs. Simply put, automation does not learn and adjust but AI does. Stay tuned for future press releases and updates from ResMan to learn more about how ResMan will be helping customers utilize AI in rental housing.
Other topics discussed include Senior Housing and the growing concern of shortages in this area of housing. Naturally, it is difficult to get new deals for these as they don't score as high as family projects. The PBCA Program was mentioned in sessions as HUD is awaiting legislative action to allow the program to function as is, with some future improvements. Unfortunately, HUD has no capacity to bring this work back in-house. General housing supply was also mentioned as a representative from HUD noted a need for both production and preservation. They are starting to see lower rent inflation, but the market is still, generally and unfortunately, tight.
You can hear about these Affordable updates and more on the latest episode of Cocktails & Compliance (and get a new, yummy cocktail recipe, too!) We’ll continue to keep you updated on what we learn and are hearing around the industry as we head into the election year in 2024.
If you’re interested in ResMan as a software provider for your daily operations, book a demo to see the product up close.