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.
If the United States government has shut down, most Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offices will remain open. A government shutdown sometimes happens in the U.S. if Congress and the President do not reach an agreement on required budget legislation to fund government operations.
For our full coverage of the 2018-19 Government Shutdown visit our 2019 Government Shutdown Timeline.
There are several managing offices within HUD, which all have varying operations during a shutdown. And it's important for tenants and landlords to know what services are available to them during a shutdown. Here's details on the most noteworthy HUD offices that has direct relations with tenants and landlords:
HUD’s Description: The Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) ensures safe, decent, and affordable housing, creates opportunities for residents' self-sufficiency and economic independence, and assures the fiscal integrity of all program participants.
What does it do? Basically, the PIH runs the Housing Choice Voucher and Public Housing Programs for HUD at the federal level.
Is it closed during a shutdown? No. The PIH has excepted activities which are not disrupted by a government shutdown. These activities include keeping the Public Housing Authorities up and running, and ensuring the PHA’s have access to draw down needed funds (including reserved funds, at least for the month of the shutdown). PIH also ensures their PIH website used by Housing Authorities for reporting, is kept online and running as it should.
HUD’s Description: The Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) is to eliminate housing discrimination, promote economic opportunity, and achieve diverse, inclusive communities by leading the nation in the enforcement, administration, development, and public understanding of federal fair housing policies and laws.
What does it do? The FHEO investigates fair housing complaints, conducts compliance reviews, ensures civil rights in HUD programs and manages fair housing grants.
Is it closed during a shutdown? Partially. The FHEO has excepted activities which are not disrupted by a government shutdown. These activities include keeping funding distributed to grantees for investigation of complaints. FHEO may also recall staff during a shutdown, if needed to pursue prompt judicial action, issue warrants, or to respond to requests from the Department of Justice regarding civil rights matters. FHEO will keep a limited number of staff at work to maintain the running of their computer systems.
HUD’s description: The Office of Housing plays a vital role for the nation's homebuyers, homeowners, renters, and communities through its nationally administered programs. It includes the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the largest mortgage insurer in the world.
What does it do? The Office of Housing operates HUD’s mortgage insurance and mortgages through the Federal Housing Authority (FHA), manages HUD's Project-Based Rental Assistance and other rental assistance programs, and supports Housing for the Elderly and for Persons with Disabilities programs.
Is it closed during a shutdown? No, it’s mostly open. The Office of Housing has excepted activities which are not disrupted by a government shutdown. These activities include fulfilling obligations associated with Housing’s Project-Based Rental Assistance programs. Housing will also continue to respond to issues relating to the "imminent threat to the safety of the residents," or to the protection of property in HUD-insured or assisted multifamily projects.
HUD’s Description: The primary mission of the OIG is to investigate and audit HUD programs and operations, and to respond to irregularities or violations of law or regulation in HUD programs and operations, especially as they might relate to protecting HUD funds.
What Does It Do? The Office of Inspector General (OIG) prevents and detects fraud, waste, and abuse in the programs and operations of HUD. The OIG conducts independent investigations, audits, and evaluations of HUD programs. The OIG also keeps the HUD Secretary and the Congress fully informed about HUD program deficiencies and weaknesses while also identifying best practices.
Is It Closed During a Shut Down? Yes, partially. The OIG will keep the minimum number of employees necessary to address emergency situations and to prevent the potential mismanagement of HUD’s financial assets.