Tenant Protection Vouchers for foster youth

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has guidance regarding Tenant Protection Vouchers for foster youth.  Tenant Protection Vouchers are now available for Family Reunification Program-eligible foster youth in communities that do not administer Family Reunification Programs.  To be eligible, a Public Housing Authority (PHA) must: administer the Housing Choice Voucher program, not administer the Family Reunification Program, have a partnership with a public child welfare agency, accept Family Reunification Program –eligible your referrals, determine eligibility and update their administrative plan.  The public child welfare agency must provide supportive services.

Eligible youth must be at least 18 years of age and not more than 24 years of age, left foster care or will leave foster case within 90 days, and are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

These vouchers sunset when the youth leaves the program.  If a youth does not use the voucher, the PHA must notify HUD and HUD will reduce the PHA’s housing choice voucher assistance to account for the removal of the voucher.  These vouchers cannot be project based.   PHAs may admit youth to the program who are not on the waiting list or without consideration of waiting list position.  These vouchers provide assistance for a maximum of 36 months.  (PIH Notice 2019-20, July 26, 2019.)

Utility Rate Reduction Incentive in Public Housing

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development has guidance regarding use and eligibility of the Rate Reduction Incentive (RRI).  The RRI is a financial incentive for Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) to pursue special and significant efforts beyond what is required by statute or regulation to reduce their utility rate.  PHAs that take an eligible action will be eligible to retain one-half of the annual savings realized from their actions.  The lower rate cannot be result of factor that do not require PHA action such as market changes, rate changes for all customers or consuming energy at a different time of day.

Eligible activities include special rate negotiated by and for the PHA, wellhead purchase of natural gas, power purchase agreement using a third-party energy supplier, energy efficiency investments that lead to lower utility rates, investments to allow for fuel switching capability in order to participate in an interruptible utility rate, commodity purchases of regulated utilities in a deregulated market that result in a lower utility rate, active commodity trading and on-site renewable energy.

Activities ineligible to receive RRI include energy investments that lower utility consumption but not the rate, selecting the best available utility rate, combining or removing meters to prohibit individual tenant metering, and fuel switching to obtain a better rate when new equipment is not required.  (PIH Notice 2019-24, September 3, 2019.)

Emergency call systems in public housing

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has issued guidance on emergency call systems in public housing.  There is no requirement to install emergency call systems in public housing.  HUD does not prescribe the type of emergency call system a public housing authority should use if there is a system present or installed.

However, emergency call systems may be required to be installed and operable as reasonable accommodations, modification or auxiliary aids pursuant to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act.

If a public housing authority has call-for-aid pull cords, wireless communication notification systems or other similar emergency call systems in a public housing property, the systems must function as intended, are subject to Real Estate Inspection Center (REAC) inspection protocols and must be tested. Housing Authorities are not required to replace older call systems with wireless or electronic communication technology.  However, when the public housing authority uses call-for-aid pull cords, REAC inspectors must verify the system functions as intended and the cords must be accessible.  (PIH Notice 2019-25, October 11, 2019.)

Sexual harassment in the IHSS program

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued information about AB 3802 which requires CDSS to develop or identify educational materials to be made available to IHSS recipients and providers, and to propose a data collection method for the prevalence of sexual harassment in the IHSS program.

CDSS developed education materials, SOC 2326 and SOC 2327, which suggest methods to identify, prevent and resolve sexual harassment situations in the IHSS program.

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) will identify IHSS sexual harassment cases.  Reports can be extracted from DFEH’s database.  (ACIN I-70-19, November 18, 2019.)

CalWORKs Cal-OAR Cal-CQI process

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance about the Cal-OAR California Continuous Quality Improvement (Cal-CQI) process.  Cal-OAR establishes a local data-driven management system to facilitate improvement to county CalWORKs programs.  The Cal-CQI occurs in three-year cycles using data gathered from Cal-OAR.  During each three-year cycle, counties must conduct a self-assessment, develop a system improvement plan, implement and evaluate strategies for improvement and report progress.

Each county must conduct a self-assessment to 1) comprehensively evaluate services, program implementation, and outcomes; 2) identify strengths and challenges of current program practices and 3) describe how local operational decisions and systemic factors affect outcomes.  Counties are required to work with local stakeholders in the Cal-OAR process.  Counties must also have a peer review component.  Based on this information, counties develop a plan for improvement in which they select a measure or set of measures for focused improvement and develop strategies to improve performance on the chosen measures.

When the self improvement plan is approved by the Board of Supervisors and CDSS, the county will work to implement its improvement strategies.  Counties must do a progress report on implementation progress of the self improvement plan.

CDSS will provide training on the Cal-OAR process in a variety of formats.  (ACL 19-108, November 27, 2019.)