After almost two years of CARES Act waivers and notices, most waivers under Notices PIH 2020-05, PIH 2020 – 13 and PIH 2020-33 have expired. The question becomes: “what now?”
PHAs across the country worked tirelessly to revamp and reorganize how they conduct business during the pandemic to ensure consistent housing services. Challenging operational environments include: staff absences and vacancies resulting in file backlogs, low rental vacancies, and declining participant incomes. These factors have made an indelible mark within the affordable housing industry.
Quadel’s Senior Program and Policy Advisor, Jessica Porter, discusses best practices for PHAs as they navigate another chapter.
Review Current Staffing and Operating Procedures
It is important that PHAs review activities and processes in place during the implementation of waivers to ensure records are complete and ‘audit-ready.’ Porter believes staffing and operational workflows should be reassessed now to determine the most sustainable and compliant model of operation moving forward. This could include the use of various measures that do not require a HUD waiver.
“Executive level staff need to evaluate position descriptions and performance metrics to ensure a sustainable operations model. During COVID operations, staff responsibilities may have broadened or changed,” Porter said. “The PHA should review how these circumstances benefited or burdened staff and effected work outcomes. Quadel recommends PHAs consider remote or partially remote operations, alternative staffing operations, and expanded use of technology such as portals, kiosks, and virtual briefing videos to streamline operations.”
Ensure Proper Reporting Systems are in Place
Porter recommends PHAs operational and financial staff work together to ensure internal processes are in place and working properly.
“HUD waived several requirements for SEMAP, PHAS and Unaudited Financial Statements. Re-establishing the internal processes to review and prepare for the submission of these reports should commence as soon as possible,” Porter said. “The PHAs may create (cross-operational) working teams to ensure timelines and activities are planned to meet HUD timelines.”
Communicate Program Changes Internally and Externally
With the end of program waivers will come a wave of possible confusion for staff members and program stakeholders. Clear communication will all parties: staff, participants, applicants, and landlords is paramount. Be sure to review forms, letters, and internal work systems to communicate any changes correctly.
“All PHA partners should be kept informed of the currently accepted procedures and policies. While all stakeholders are important, HCV landlords may need direct communications and a means to address questions related to the end of HQS inspection waivers. With the end of inspection waivers, PHAs should assess the impact of procedures implemented during COVID and gather landlord input,” Porter said. “Policies such as enabling owners to self-certify certain deficiencies may have also improved customer service.”
If your PHA needs assistance navigating operational or organizational changes now that CARES Act waivers have expired, email Hannah Troyer, Proposal Associate, to discuss how Quadel can best meet your needs.