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HUD Notice outlines steps PHAs can take for voucher families with disabled members

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HUD Notice outlines steps PHAs can take for voucher families with disabled members
Issue 29, Fall 2005

HUD Notice outlines steps PHAs can take for voucher
families with disabled members

by Jim Schaafsma, MPLP Housing Law Attorney

As reported in the National Housing Law Project's Housing Law Bulletin's October issue, earlier this year, HUD issued a notice (PIH Notice 2005-5;$[no]&op1=AND&SECT1=TXTHLB&SECT5=PIHN&u=./hudclips.cgi&p=1&r=30&f=G) which provides guidance ("implementation suggestions") to public housing authorities/commissions (PHAs) about ways to assist persons with disabilities in their search for housing under the Section 8 (Housing Choice) voucher program. While the notice does not establish any new law or policy, it is a helpful compendium of guidance on this subject.

Search Term and Housing Search The Notice tells PHAs to be "generous" in setting initial search time and extension policies for families with disabled members, reminding them that 60 days is the minimum, but there is no maximum [for any family, see 24 CFR 982.303], although the search time "may not be indefinite". PHAs are also encouraged to contact agencies that work with families with disabled members "for advice on reasonable search terms". The notice also says PHAs should either on their own or with another qualified agency "offer specialized housing search" to these families "to locate accessible units if requested", for which they may receive a $75 "hard to house" fee.

Information Services

The Notice advises PHAs to provide family with disabled members:

a list of accessible units;
a list of "supportive service and disability organizations" that can provide assistance such as counseling and help with moving expenses and security deposits, including state protection and advocacy agencies, centers for independent living, and state Medicaid agencies.

Cooperation with other governmental agencies

As part of the PHA planning process (see 24 CFR 903) PHAs should work with agencies serving the disabled in "setting policies and sharing resources" (including ways outlined above), and may set preferences for admission of families with a disabled member.

Special purpose vouchers

The notice reminds PHAs of their obligations related to special purpose voucher programs for persons with disabilities, including the need to issue vouchers designated for non-elderly persons to such persons "to the extent practicable".

Special housing types

While approval of special housing types (e.g. SROs, group home, shared housing) is permissive for the general population, PHAs must permit use of them if needed as a reasonable accommodation, according to the notice. It says that a person with a disability may rent from a relative, but not if the relative is an owner residen

Exception Payment Standards

The notice restates existing law on this matter, saying that, as a reasonable accommodation, a PHA may approve an exception to its voucher payment standard up to 110% of FMR, the field office may approve an exception standard between 110-120% of FMR, and HUD headquarters must approve any exception standard above 120% of FMR.

Earned Income Disallowance

The notice reminds PHAs that the EID is available to families with disabled members when such a member gets a job under one of the circumstances described in 24 CFR 5.617.

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