Affordable Housing Online is monitoring the federal government's response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. As of March 13, 2020, Public Housing Agencies across the nation are closing their doors to the public. Most offices are still running and will communicate by phone, email, or mail. Some offices have drop boxes installed outside, so documents can still be hand-delivered. Visit the housing authority's website for the latest on its current operations, if one is available. If there is no information online, contact the housing authority directly. Due to a high volume of calls and modified office hours in most areas, expect a long wait time (days or weeks) for a response. To find your local PHA's contact info, browse by state here.
An extensive list of coronavirus resources for low-income households can be found here.
Most Public Housing Agencies (aka, housing authorities) are still completing emergency inspections and vacant-unit inspections for new moves, but have suspended annual inspections.
According to the COVID-19 FAQs for PHAs, the “CARES Act legislation provides HUD the ability to waive statute or regulations and impose alternative requirements to provide PHAs with flexibilities necessary to respond to COVID-19.”
PHAs are able to use different methods to complete annual inspections (PIH 2016-05), and for validating the correction of a deficiency (for example- a photo or owner certification).
Some PHAs like the Houston Housing Authority, are completing virtual inspections using technology to visually tour the unit and issuing conditional passes of inspections if no emergency deficiencies are obvious. Other PHA’s are accepting owner certifications for inspections but will follow up later, with a physical inspection after the safety concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic are over.
Small rural PHAs also have the option to move inspections to every two or three years, if they use different streamlining methods.
Whatever inspection method the PHA chooses, it must be explained to the landlord and resident in a reasonable amount of time before the inspection is due.
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