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HUD evaluation of BHA's 2012 Annual Public Housing Agency Plan

Date: 
03/28/2012
Author: 
Boston Housing Authority (BHA) and Housing and Urban Department (HUD)

Overview

The Boston Housing Authority (“BHA”) submitted their Annual Public Housing Agency (“PHA”) Plan for the Fiscal Year (“FY”) 2012 to the Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) Department for approval pursuant the Public Housing Reform Act (“PHRA”) 1998. In March, 2012, HUD rejected BHA’s PHA Plan based on five perceived deficiencies argued to be inconsistent with PHRA and its implementing regulations. BHA produced an extensive response to HUD’s concerns relating to the PHA FY 2012 and consequently re-submitted the PHA Plan for approval in May, 2012 (“resubmission”).

Facially, the deficiencies do not substantively embrace language access issues; however, as is apparent from the recommendations made by HUD,  language access can be seen as an underlying concern.

  • Deficiency 1 - discrepancy concerning base funding allocation. HUD considered BHA’s projected growth rate in the Capital Fund Program (“CFP”) allocation to be incredulous. BHA resubmitted the PHA using the FY 2011 CFP allocation.
  • Deficiency 2 - notes BHA’s conflicting views expressed with respect to the position it has taken to implement a no-smoking policy within its public housing communities.
    • BHA noted that the confusion surrounding its no-smoking policy results from the layered approach adopted: notice of the switch to a no-smoking policy was originally given via letter; subsequently, BHA decided to give notice via an amendment to the lease agreement and on-site meetings.
  • Deficiency 3 observed BHA’s conflicting statement that it intends to implement a reporting requirement for tenant income increases above a threshold amount with another statement that such policy had already been implemented.
    •  In response, BHA clarified that the requirement to notify increases in income above a threshold is prospective and undergoing active implementation.
  • Deficiency 4 cites BHA’s possible failure to seek prior approval to changes, if actual, in waiting list and preference structures.
  • Deficiency 5 continues in the same vein of uncertainty as to whether BHA has altered its public housing access policy without prior approval.

Notwithstanding BHA's commendable efforts to overcome impediments to fair housing, HUD made several recommendations for improving this initiative. Site-based affirmative action marketing was recommended to target race or ethnic minorities least likely to apply to a particular housing site. HUD commends and recommends the continued provision of translated “vital documents”. BHA’s response letter gives several examples of vital documents: Consent and Complaint forms, Notices advising LEP persons of free language assistance etc. Likewise, BHA should continue to improve its language translation service.

BHA reaffirmed its commitment to provide an institutional structure that meets the needs of Limited English Proficiency individuals. 

Letter from HUD and BHA's responses are attached below. 

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