The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has released Notice H 2023-10, which expands upon the Final Rule for implementing the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act (HOTMA). This final rule provides clarification regarding how income is determined for purposes of HUD programs and other programs that must follow HUD rules relative to the determination of income.
Annual income includes all amounts received from all sources by each member of the family who is 18 years of age or older, the head of household, or spouse of the head of household, in addition to unearned income received by or on behalf of each dependent who is under 18 years of age. Annual income does not include amounts specifically excluded in 24 CFR §5.609.
HUD clarifies that annual income includes "all amounts received," not the amount that a family may be legally entitled to receive but which they do not receive. For example, a family’s child support or alimony income must be based on payments received, not the amounts to which a family is entitled by court or agency orders. For this reason, a copy of a court order or other written payment agreement alone may not be sufficient verification of amounts received by a family.
Annual income also includes all actual anticipated income from assets even if the asset is excluded from net family assets but the income from the asset is not otherwise excluded. Imputed returns on net family assets are included in annual income only when net family assets exceed $50,000, and actual asset income cannot be calculated for all assets.
A day laborer is defined as an individual hired and paid one day at a time without an agreement that the individual will be hired or work again in the future.
Income earned as a day laborer is considered "earned" income and must be included in the determination of income unless specifically excluded by federal regulation (e.g., earnings of full-time students in excess of the dependent deduction).
An independent contractor is an individual who qualifies as an independent contractor instead of an employee in accordance with IRS regulations and whose earnings are subject to self-employment tax.
In general, an individual is an independent contractor if they have the right to control or direct only the conduct of the work. For example, while instructions and route information are generally provided, third-party delivery and transportation service providers are considered independent contractors unless state law dictates otherwise. In addition, "gig workers," such as babysitters, landscapers, rideshare drivers, and house cleaners, typically fall into the category of independent contractors.
Income earned as an independent contractor is considered "earned" income and must be included in the determination of income unless specifically excluded by federal regulation (e.g., earnings of full-time students in excess of the dependent deduction).
A seasonal worker is defined as an individual who is: 1) hired into a short-term position (e.g., for which the customary employment period for the job is six months or less); and 2) the employment begins about the same time each year (such as summer or winter).
Examples of seasonal work include employment limited to holidays or agricultural seasons. Seasonal work may include but is not limited to employment as a lifeguard, ballpark vendor, or snowplow driver.
Income earned as a seasonal worker is considered "earned" income and must be included in the determination of income unless specifically excluded by federal regulation.
In conclusion, Notice H 2023-10 and the Final Rule for the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act provide essential guidelines for determining income within HUD programs. These clarifications serve to ensure a fair and accurate assessment of income, capturing the complexities of modern work arrangements from day laborers to independent contractors and seasonal workers. By including actual received income and anticipating earnings from assets, HUD aims to streamline the process, promote transparency, and provide consistency across the board. This approach not only supports the equitable distribution of housing assistance but also reflects the evolving nature of income in a gig economy. As HUD continues to refine its policies, these measures are a step toward modernizing housing opportunities and upholding the fundamental principle that everyone deserves access to affordable housing.
A. J. Johnson to Provide Live Webinar on Assistance Animals in Multifamily Housing
A. J. Johnson will be conducting a one-hour webinar on January 24, 2024, on Assistance Animals in Multifamily Housing - Avoiding Fair Housing Violations. The Webinar will begin at 1:00 PM Eastern Time. Understanding Fair Housing Law concerning assistance animals is crucial for several reasons: Fair housing law ensures that individuals with disabilities have equal access to housing, preventing discrimination. Assistance animals are not pets but are necessary for the well-being of their owners. Landlords and housing providers must comply with these laws to avoid legal repercussions. Ignorance of the law is not a defense. The law clarifies the obligations of housing providers to make reasonable accommodations for assistance animals, even in pet-free housing. It promotes awareness and sensitivity towards the needs of individuals with disabilities, fostering a more inclusive and supportive community. Understanding these laws helps prevent misuse of the system by those who do not genuinely require assistance animals, ensuring resources and accommodations are available for those who truly need them. This one-hour live webinar will provide the information necessary for owners to comply with this complex area of fair housing law. It will cover the difference between service and support animals, how to verify the need for an assistance animal (including a detailed discussion of the "online verification services), and what types of animals are acceptable as assistance animals. There will be plenty of time for Q&A and at the end of the session, attendees will be more confident when dealing with requests for assistance animals. Those interested in participating in the Webinar may register on the A. J. Johnson Consulting Services website (www.ajjcs.net) under "Training.
HUD HOTMA Rules Update Verification Requirements
Introduction The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has released Notice H 2013-10, which expands upon the Final Rule for implementing the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act (HOTMA). This final rule makes some changes to the way managers of HUD-assisted housing will verify eligibility-related information for HUD-assisted properties. Consent to Release Forms The final HOTMA rule changes the requirements relating to the signing of Authorization for Release of Information (Forms HUD-9886/9887). Under the final rule, all applicants age 18 and over must sign the consent form at admission and participants must sign the consent form no later than their next interim or regularly scheduled income reexamination. After an applicant or participant has signed and submitted a consent form on or after January 1, 2024, they do not need to sign and submit subsequent consent forms at the next interim or regularly scheduled income reexamination except under the following circumstances: When any person 18 years or older becomes a member of the family; When a member of the family turns 18 years of age; and As required by HUD or the PHA in administrative instructions. Executed consent forms will remain effective until the family is denied assistance, the assistance is terminated, or if the family provides written notification to the owner revoking consent. If a family leaves a HUD program, the assistance is terminated, and the signed consent forms will no longer be in effect. HUD is updating the form HUD-9886-A and 9887 to conform to the final rule. EIV Use The regulation reminds owners the EIV must be used to verify tenant employment and income at annual and streamlined reexaminations of family composition and income. However, Owners are no longer required to use EIV to verify tenant employment and income information during an interim reexamination. Owners have the discretion to use EIV reports at interim reexaminations, but such a policy must be stated in written EIV Policies & Procedures. Determination of Income Using Other Means-Tested Public Assistance (i.e., "Safe Harbor ) Owners may determine a family s annual income, including income from assets, before the application of any deductions based on income determinations made within the previous 12-month period, using income determinations from the following types of means-tested federal public assistance programs: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families ("TANF ); Medicaid; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ("SNAP ); The Earned Income Tax Credit; The Low Income Housing Tax Credit; Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children; Supplemental Security Income (SSI); Other HUD-administered programs; Other means-tested forms of federal public assistance for which HUD has established a memorandum of understanding; and Other federal benefit determinations made by other means-tested federal programs that HUD determines to have comparable reliability and announces through a Federal Register notice. All means-tested verifications must utilize third-party verification. HUD clarifies in this notice that the verification will be considered acceptable if the documentation meets the criteria that the income determination was made within the 12 months before the receipt of the verification by the Owner. The safe harbor documentation will be considered acceptable if any of the following dates fall into the 12 months prior to the receipt of the documentation by the Owner: Income determination effective date; Program administrator s signature date; Family s signature date; Report effective date; or Other report-specific dates that verify the income determination date. Safe harbor verifications may only be used to determine gross annual income - not adjusted income. Verification Hierarchy HUD has developed a hierarchy that describes verification documentation from most acceptable to least acceptable, as follows: Upfront Income Verification (UIV), using HUD s EIV system; Upfront Income Verification using a non-EIV system (e.g., The Work Number, web-based state benefits, etc.); Written, third-party verification from the source, also known as "tenant-provided verification or EIV plus Self-Certification. Owners must use written, third-party verification when the income type is not available in EIV (e.g., self-employment, GoFundMe accounts, general public assistance, VA benefits, etc.); Examples are pay stubs, payroll summary reports, employer hire letters, SSA benefit letters, bank statements, child support payment stubs, welfare benefit letters, and unemployment monetary benefit notices. When pay stubs are used, a minimum of two consecutive pay stubs are required. However, for new income sources or when two pay stubs are not available, traditional, third-party verification or the best available information should be used. When verification of assets is required, owners are required to obtain a minimum of one statement that reflects the current balance of banking/financial accounts. Note that a six-month average balance for checking accounts is no longer required Written, third-party verification form directly from the income source; Oral Third-Party Verification; and Self-certification (not third-party verification). Owners and property managers should note that these requirements apply only to HUD projects. The Rural Development Service (RD) and Housing Finance Agencies (HFAs) have complete discretion concerning verification requirements and the procedures outlined here may not be acceptable to those agencies.
HOTMA Makes Significant Changes to the Handling of Interim Reexaminations at HUD Properties
Introduction The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has released Notice H 2013-10, which expands upon the Final Rule for implementing the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act (HOTMA). This final rule makes significant changes to the way managers of HUD-assisted housing will process interim reexaminations. Basics of the Rule Change A family may request an interim determination of family income or composition because of any changes since the last determination. Project owners must conduct interims within a reasonable period of time after the family request or when the Owner becomes aware of a change in the family s adjusted income that must be processed in accordance with the final rule. While owners have some discretion in determining a "reasonable time, interim reexaminations should generally be conducted no more than 30 days after the owner becomes aware of the changes. Decreases in Adjusted Income A family may request an interim determination of income for any change in income or family composition. However, the owner may decline to conduct an interim if the owner estimates that the adjusted income will decrease by less than 10 percent of the annual adjusted income. If owners select a threshold lower than 10 percent, the lower percentage threshold must be included in the ACOP, Administrative Plan, or Tenant Selection Plan, as applicable. HUD has made some exceptions to the 10 percent threshold and applies a zero percent threshold in certain circumstances: (1) If there is a decrease in family size due to the death or permanent move-out from the assisted unit of a family member during the period since the family s last reexamination that results in a decrease in adjusted income of any amount. If there is no change in adjusted income as a result of the decrease in family size, then a non-interim transaction is processed instead of an interim reexamination. This zero percent threshold applies only to decreases in adjusted income due to a decrease in family size. If the move-out of the family member results in an increase in annual adjusted income, the owner will process the removal of the member as a non-interim transaction without making changes to the family s annual adjusted income. Owners are not permitted to establish a dollar-figure threshold amount instead of a percentage threshold. Owners may establish policies to round calculated percentage decreases up or down to the nearest unit (e.g., a calculated decrease of 9.5% may be rounded up to 10%). Increases in Adjusted Income Owners must conduct an interim reexamination of family income when the family s adjusted income increases by 10 percent or more, with the following exceptions: (1) owners may not consider any increases in earned income when determining whether to conduct an interim unless the family has previously received an interim reduction during the same reexamination cycle, and (2) owners may choose not to conduct an interim reexamination during the last three months of a certification period if a family reports an increase in income with three months of the next annual reexamination effective date. Note: Families who delay reporting income increases until the last three months of their certification period may be subject to retroactive rent increases. Owners may not establish a policy of conducting interim reexaminations for increases in annual adjusted income of less than 10 percent. When a family previously received an interim reexamination for a decrease in annual adjusted income during the same annual cycle, an owner has the discretion to consider or ignore a subsequent increase in earned income for the purpose of conducting an interim reexamination. When an increase in income of any size is reported by a family, it is a recommended best practice for the owner to note the reported increase in the tenant file. If a series of smaller reported increases in adjusted income result in a cumulative increase of 10 percent or more, an interim reexamination is required. Bottom Line Project owners must process interim reexaminations of family income or composition if there's a significant change since the last check. The interim should be done within 30 days of becoming aware of the change. Decreases in income warrant an interim if over 10%, with certain exceptions allowing a 0% threshold. For increases, an interim is required for a 10% rise in adjusted income unless a reduction has occurred in the same cycle. Owners should document all reported income changes, and cumulatively, a 10% increase triggers an interim reexamination.
A. J. Johnson to Host Live Webinar on Interviewing Skills for Affordable Housing Managers
A. J. Johnson will be conducting a webinar on December 6, 2023, on Interviewing Skills for Affordable Housing Managers. The Webinar will be held from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM Eastern time. One of the most important skills any affordable housing manager can possess is the ability to interview applicants and residents and obtain the information required to determine eligibility - this is also one of the greatest weaknesses of most affordable housing managers. This training has been developed to address that weakness. This three-hour session focuses on the interview process and provides concepts and tools that will aid managers as they conduct their interviews. Techniques apply to all interview settings including initial eligibility interviews, interim certifications, and annual recertifications. The primary emphasis is on the initial eligibility interview since it is so critical to the housing process. The skills taught during this session will also assist managers in detecting fraud and dealing with third parties when resolving discrepancies. Those interested in participating in the Webinar may register on the A. J. Johnson Consulting Services website (www.ajjcs.net) under "Training Schedule.