HUD Holds National COVID-19 Call

Regulation | March 18, 2020 | by Linda Couch

The first national call of HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing regarding COVID-19 had significantly more interest than phone capacity. To catch our members up on the content of the March 18 call, we offer the following summary of the speakers’ main points below. This article references HUD’s Frequently Asked Questions document, which HUD is updating every couple of days.

The first national call of HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing regarding COVID-19 had significantly more interest than phone capacity. To catch our members up on the content of the March 18 call, we offer the following summary of the speakers’ main points below. This article references and mostly reiterates information in HUD’s March 16 Frequently Asked Questions document, which HUD is updating every couple of days. 

Lamar Seats, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Multifamily Housing

  • As far as HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing goes, we are in business and fully operational
  • Announcement made today by President Trump related to eviction and foreclosure suspension in FHA-backed properties ONLY applies to single family housing

Jeff Little, Assistant Deputy Assistant Secretary, Assistant Deputy Assistant Secretary

  • Most of HUD is teleworking.
  • All core business functions are moving forward.
  • The Office of Multifamily Housing is coordinating with the Office of Public and Indian Housing and with HHS.
  • We are collaborating on resources we can provide related to tenant health in HUD-insured and HUD-assisted housing.
  • We urge providers to look to local health authorities and to CDC for health-related guidance and help.

Tom Bernaciak, Deputy Director, Office of Multifamily Production

  • Closings continue with help from HUD’s Office of General Counsel.
  • Last week, we issued guidance on that cleared up some procedural issues, we will update these based on lender input.
  • Expect our FAQs soon.
  • We do not want any extra burden on lenders or on HUD during this time.

Toby Halliday, Director, Office of Asset Management and Portfolio Oversight

  • All asset management staff, contract administrators, and project-based contract administrators are operating under a business as usual posture.
  • The safety and stability of residents is our top priority.
  • We are addressing issues as they arise.
  • Getting a lot of asset management and operational questions. Some are already in our FAQ.
  • We have gotten a lot of questions restricting visitors, which I will try to answer broadly. The CDC allows visitor restrictions for long term care facilities. In general, however, unless a visitor restriction is mandated by a state or local official, HUD owners must be careful not to infringe on resident rights in their independent living environments.
  • We have also gotten a lot of questions about residents who have been exposed to COVID-19 or who test positive for it and whether staff can go into their units. In general, it is not a good idea for property staff to ask medical questions. We suggest that if anyone wants to access a unit, they ask if it’s safe to come in, if the resident has been sick or has traveled recently. Then, let property staff individually decide for themselves whether to go into units.
  • On having property tours, we encourage owners to only enter with the permission of the resident and to hopefully wait for a unit to be vacant before bringing anyone to see it.
  • On if there is a confirmed COVID-19 case in the housing community: recommend owner / agent follow CDC and local health guidelines if there’s a confirmed case. HUD is not giving medical-related advice.
  • What about emergency funds? Multifamily owners can access property operating accounts for COVID-19 costs. No advance approval is needed for these.
  • On income recertifications: we are in the process of exploring guidance beyond what we’ve already put in the FAQ. Meanwhile, you can consider extenuating circumstances for an up-to 90 day delay of an interim income recertification.
  • If there is a decrease in tenant income, owners / agents can process interim recertifications following regular procedures.
  • On REAC inspections, regular inspections have been suspended.
  • Management and Occupancy Reviews: these are more complicated than REAC inspections because of HUD’s relationship with Project-Based Contract Administrators. But, PBCA’s are not being required to do MORs and HUD is encouraging PBCAs not to do MORs until the PBCA says they can move forward with them safely. Look for future guidance on this in days ahead.
  • Rent Comparability Studies: these are suspended nationally. HUD will provisionally accept an owner’s RCS for certain rent increase requests.
  • Financial statements: HUD has extended deadlines for any March and April statements due by 30 days.

Jeff Little: regarding Office of Recapitalization

  • RAD transactions: we’re fully equipped to handle remotely and process these online.

Bob Iber, Senior Advisory, Office of Multifamily Housing

Lamar Seats, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Multifamily Housing

  • Want to emphasize we are traveling down a new road and that the Office of Multifamily is here to support any one in any way we can. Please reach out to us, make recommendations to us. Must reiterated we are a housing agency, not a health care agency. Please rely on your local health departments for health-related guidance and information.
  • Unlike during government shutdown, all of our staff is in place to help you.
  • We will look at the possibility of having another call, or the same call again.