In this, the 20th day of the shutdown, I thought I would send you a note to let you know what we know.
First of all, even though the federal government has shut down, HUD continues to provide as much support as possible to owners and agents providing housing for low-income families. In the event of a government shutdown, most federal employees are required to stop work because no payroll funds are available and the government is prohibited from accepting voluntary services. A limited number of employees are “excepted” from this general rule based on the functional activity they perform.
While these are definitely unsettling times, you are not alone. HUD staff can and are being brought in on an intermittent basis. But HUD is down to 325 staff nationally, out of a normal staff of 7000. This includes 100 staff within the Office of Housing - 30 of whom are assigned to HUD Headquarters.
For those of you who are interested, HUD has published their Contingency Plan which is available on HUD’s web site at https://www.hud.gov/sites/documents/HUDCONTINGENCYPLANFINAL.PDF.
HUD has also published a Questions & Answers document on their web site at https://www.hud.gov/sites/dfiles/Main/documents/GENERALFAQS.pdf Please keep in mind that, as the shutdown continues, some responses may change.
For those of you with questions about specific HUD systems like TRACS or EIV, please know that the Help Desk is still open and staff are available to respond to questions. However, the REAC Technical Assistance Center (TAC) is not open during the shutdown.
As far as voucher payments are concerned, we have not experienced any problems as long as the property contract is current. HUD does not have the ability to renew the 600 contracts that expired in December or any contracts that may expire in January or February - this includes both PBRA Section 8 and PRAC contracts. This is a change to previous statements about HUD having sufficient funding to cover payment and renewal needs through at least the end of January. Please note, those comments may have been based on an expectation that the federal government would grant continuing resolution instead of shutting down.
Industry stakeholders assume that if there are issues with property funding/payments, owners will be able to use operating reserves and/or access Reserve for Replacement funds in the short term. Deputy Assistant Secretary Lamar Seats released two memos that provide additional information about properties without current contracts or funds. (To access those memos, visit our web site at https://www.rbdnow.com/news) We hope HUD will be able to issue instructions to the regional/satellite offices addressing specific issues.
If you plan to use funds available in the Reserve for Replacement accounts, HUD staff reminds us that, “Owners cannot draw down reserves without HUD approval. They should send their electronic request and 9250 Funds Authorizations to the applicable Multifamily Regional or Satellite director, or Jen Larson in Headquarters. It will be processed in the field.”
HUD is planning on providing further guidance on this issue. Please be on the lookout for any communications from HUD.We will keep you updated as we learn more.