H.P.R.P Is it working? Part I

Posted: July 15, 2010 in homelessness, politics
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We are beginning a series of articles on the H.U.D’s new Homeless Prevention and Rapid Rehousing Program (H.P.R.P.) and how it has helped the homeless and nearly homeless in our community.

Below is an excerpt from the 2010 Annual Housing Policy Conference in Washington D.C. held on April 13th of this year:

Remarks for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan at the National Low Income Housing Coalition 2010 Annual Housing Policy Conference

L’Enfant Plaza Hotel

Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

To read the entire transcript go to:  http://portal.hud.gov/portal/page/portal/HUD/press/speeches_remarks_statements/2010/Speech_04132010

Transforming Rental Assistance

…But you know as well as I do that it’s not just about more resources or providing them more quickly. It’s about making the resources we do provide work better and more effectively. Because every dollar we save by making programs more efficient is another dollar that supports extremely low-income families. Many of you are no doubt familiar with our Transforming Rental Assistance proposal, and I am grateful for the optimism with which the National Low Income Housing Coalition has welcomed the proposal and engaged in constructive dialogue. Let me share with you the four principles that anchor our TRA initiative.

First, you know as well as I that the complexity of HUD’s programs and their overlapping delivery systems is part of the problem. Right now, HUD has thirteen different deep rental assistance programs each with its own rules, administered by three operating divisions that contract with more than 20,000 separate entities. No one would ever intentionally set up a system this complicated. Can we agree on that?

We’ve seen how smaller legacy programs like Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation contracts administered by PHAs and properties assisted under the Rent Supplement or Rental Assistance Programs have become “orphans” at HUD as new housing programs have evolved.

And we’ve seen how this proliferation of programs and delivery systems doesn’t make housing more accessible — but less, because it means families have to fill out dozens of applications processed by scores of administrators to have a decent chance of receiving assistance.

The time has come to streamline and simplify these programs so that they are governed by a single, integrated, coherent set of rules, delivered through a system that better aligns with the requirements of other financing streams and social service providers — and better serves tenants.

I’ve asked Barbara to lead an effort across our programs to identify the best policies on a broad range of tenant issues.  Tomorrow, in large part due to the leadership of the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the National Housing Law Project, for the first time HUD will be hosting residents from all its major rental programs to discuss this very issue and to develop recommendations–from tenant organizing and resident participation rights, to supportive services, admissions policies and hearing rights–that should apply to all HUD-assisted tenants.

We have held four major convenings with stakeholders since October, focused on each of the three major rental assistance programs, and one just with public housing residents. In addition, HUD staff participated in a webinar with voucher program participants convened by the National Housing Law Project on initiatives in the Housing Choice Voucher Program. And in preparation for tomorrow’s convening, senior staff held a web-cast on TRA for residents of all programs on March 29th.

It’s time we all spoke with one voice. To preserve and expand rental assistance resources, we must. We need to be fighting together for resources, not fighting against each other for a larger share of a smaller pie.

The second principle of TRA is that the key to meeting the long-term capital needs of public housing lies in shifting from the our current federal capital and operating subsidy funding structure to a federal rental subsidy stream that can attract capital from private and other public sources. I’m proud that the Obama Administration was able to provide an additional $4 billion in public housing capital funding as part of the Recovery Act last year.

But that funding meets only about a fifth of the estimated $20 billion capital backlog in public housing properties. At the same time, we’ve lost 150,000 units from our inventory of assisted stock through demolition or sale in recent years.

Given the size of the federal deficit we’ve inherited, it’s clear the Federal government alone will not be able to provide the funds needed to bring properties up to date and preserve them for the next generation.

Third, the time has come to bring our rental programs into the housing mainstream.

Today, we have a parallel system where most families live in housing that is financed, developed and managed through mechanisms that can be integrated–literally and figuratively–with the communities around them — while the two-and-a-half million poor families served by HUD’s oldest programs live in another.

Over half a century ago, in 1954, the Warren Court’s unanimous decision in Brown vs. Board of Education stated that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” Well, a separate housing system for low-income families is also inherently unequal. Let’s work together to complete this unfinished business of the Civil Rights movement.

That can only happen when all HUD-assisted housing is built, financed and managed in a 21st century way will we be able to attract the mix of uses, incomes and stakeholders that we need to make our rental assistance programs truly successful — and ensure that families need to live in sustainable, vibrant communities of opportunity.

Fourth, we must combine the best features of our tenant-based and project-based programs to encourage resident choice and mobility. It’s simply wrong that residents of public and assisted housing cannot choose where they want to live without losing the rental assistance that they need.

We know that real choice means informed choice. That’s why HUD will work with partners like you at the state and local level to ensure that families with vouchers can choose to move to neighborhoods of greater opportunity with the information and support they need.

Creating True Neighborhoods of Choice

But we also know that choice isn’t always about moving — it’s about having the choice to stay in a community with opportunity, safety, good schools and a mix of incomes. That is the goal of our Choice Neighborhoods initiative.

There’s no question that the HOPE VI program has become one of our country’s most powerful weapons to fight concentrated poverty and rebuild distressed public housing.

HOPE VI made the Federal government a partner, emphasizing mixed-income communities, leveraging financing, and incorporating supportive services.

At its best, HOPE VI changed the world outside the development gates — reducing neighborhood poverty, crime, and unemployment…increasing income and property values…and spurring investment, business growth, and jobs.

Indeed, over time, HOPE VI transformed–in the best cases–from a housing program into a dynamic way communities could learn from best practices — encouraging participants to invest in the most catalytic and meaningful neighborhood impacts.

It is that foundation that we seek to build upon with Choice Neighborhoods. Choice Neighborhoods celebrates HOPE VI’s successes, but also learns from its mistakes. And it gives communities more tools to tackle their interconnected needs.

By expanding the HOPE VI toolkit to allow for the redevelopment of private and federally assisted properties alongside public housing, Choice Neighborhoods will bring disinvested properties that had no tool for redevelopment under the HOPE VI umbrella.

We learned from HOPE VI that even though it was possible to replace the entirety of units being redeveloped–either on site or elsewhere in the neighborhood–in some tight housing markets, desperately needed affordable homes were lost through demolition.

On this point, no one has been more articulate, passionate, or persuasive than Sheila Crowley. She says that if even one person falls into homelessness as a result of this effort, that’s one person too many.

And I absolutely agree.

That is why our proposed Choice Neighborhoods legislation includes a strengthened one-for-one replacement requirement, in which demolished or disposed-of units must be replaced by hard units. Vouchers may serve as replacement units only in limited cases, where there is an adequate supply of affordable rental housing in areas of low poverty — and a proven track record of success in the use of vouchers.

All the work I’ve described to you today to put the Federal government back in the business of affordable rental housing is not only represented in our budget this year or next year — “meeting the need for quality, affordable rental homes” is one of the central goals in HUD’s 2010-2015 Strategic Plan, which we will release in a few weeks, and which will guide our work for the next five years, up to HUD’s 50th anniversary.

We engaged over 1,500 internal and external stakeholders in developing this plan, which we will be releasing shortly. I would add that we have modeled the way we will evaluate much of our progress on your own annual Out of Reach study — which has become the standard by which communities around the country measure housing affordability. And we know you will hold us accountable for the results we produce.

End of excerpt-

In future articles we will discuss how the homeless community has been affected by the H.P.R.P Program and hopefully bring you stats on how many people have been able to move into permanent housing because of assistance from the H.P.R.P Program.

Below is information about how much funds have been granted to help the homeless in Nebraska and the requirements for the grantees of these funds. For more information visit: http://www.dhhs.ne.gov/fia/nhap/HPRP_Eligible_Activities.htm

Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program

Funds to Nebraska: $7,871,874*

Additional federal funds will provide more financial assistance and services to prevent individuals and families from becoming homeless and help those who are experiencing homelessness to be quickly re-housed and stabilized. The funds will provide for a variety of assistance, including: short-term or medium-term rental assistance and housing relocation and stabilization services, including such activities as mediation, credit counseling, security or utility deposits, utility payments, moving cost assistance, and case management.

Timeline: Primary grantees must obligate funds within 6 months of award, expend 60% of funds within two years, and expend the remainder within three years.
Restrictions: Funds may only be used for prevention and re-housing, with primary consideration given to individuals and families who would be homeless if not for this assistance.
Recipient’s matching funds requirement: None.
Recipient’s administrative allowance: 5%
Other characteristics: The Nebraska Homeless Assistance Program (NHAP) intends to allocate funds according to the current formula for the statewide Continuum of Care (CoC) network. The CoC is a HUD-mandated community and regional-based process that provides a comprehensive and coordinated housing and service delivery system. The process promotes a coordinated, strategic planning approach for programs that assist families and individuals who are homeless and near homeless.

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