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EDMUND G. BROWN JR.
Governor

State of California—Health and Human Services Agency
California Department of Public Health


21-01
May 17, 2021


TO:
State Administered Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) Program Project Sponsors

SUBJECT:
Availability of Additional Waivers for HOPWA Project Sponsors to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 and Mitigate Economic Impacts Caused by COVID-19


​Management Memorandum Letter Number: 21-01


PURPOSE

The purpose of this Management Memorandum is to provide guidance on the availability of waivers for certain regulatory requirements associated with the HOPWA programs to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to facilitate assistance to eligible communities and households economically impacted by COVID-19.

This Management Memorandum also announces a simplified notification process for HOPWA Project Sponsors to use this waiver flexibility to expedite the delivery of assistance.

NOTIFICATION PROCESS

HOPWA Project Sponsors may use the waivers described in this memorandum to assist affected HOPWA program clients and eligible households to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to mitigate against the economic impact caused by COVID-19 for eligible households. To use the waiver flexibility provided in this Management Memorandum, HOPWA Project Sponsors must provide notification in writing, either through mail or e-mail, to CDPH/OA no less than two days before anticipating using the waiver flexibility. Further directions on notifying CDPH/OA can be found in Attachment One.

WAIVER AUTHORITY

In December 2019, a new coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2 was first detected, causing outbreaks of the coronavirus disease COVID-19 that has now spread globally. The first case was reported in the United States in January 2020. In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic and former President Trump declared the outbreak a national emergency. Most states, as well as California declared states of emergency with most shutting down large gathering places and limiting the movement of their residents.

Due to COVID-19, many HOPWA Project Sponsors are facing challenges in ensuring appropriate shelter options are available for program clients who need to be separated from others because they are exhibiting symptoms, training staff on how to safely work with program clients and prevent spreading the virus, obtaining supplies to prevent the spread of the virus, and maintaining necessary staffing levels during the outbreak. Further, many program clients are suffering economic consequences from the mass shutdown of businesses and lack of availability of traditional mainstream benefits. HOPWA Project Sponsors have availability of waivers of various HOPWA program requirements to facilitate assistance to clients and prevent the spread of the virus.

In accordance with 24 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 5.110, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) may, upon a determination of good cause and subject to statutory limitations, waive regulatory provisions. Additional regulatory waiver authority is provided in 24 CFR 91.600.

On March 31, 2020, Community Planning and Development (CPD) grant programs issued its first waivers of regulatory authority to help recipients, prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. On May 22, 2020, CPD issued its second set of waivers of regulatory authority to prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. On March 31, 2021, CPD issued a fifth waiver of requirements to prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This Management Memorandum extends select waivers from these earlier waivers set to expire on March 31, 2021 and May 22, 2021 to June 30, 2021.

WAIVER AVAILABILITY

To provide additional flexibility to communities to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and better assist individuals and families, including those experiencing homelessness infected with the virus or economically impacted by the virus, CPD found good cause to provide the regulatory waivers below. To use each waiver, each HOPWA Project Sponsor must follow the notification process described above and update its program records to include written documentation of the specific conditions that justify the use of the waiver, consistent with the justifications and applicability provisions below. Provisions that are not specifically waived remain in full effect.

Unless otherwise noted, the following waivers are made available with respect to all HOPWA grants, whether funded under the CARES Act or annual HOPWA formula allocations.

WAIVERS

HOPWA - Self-Certification of Income and Credible Information on HIV Status

Requirement

Source Documentation for Income and HIV Status Determinations.

Citation

24 CFR 574.530, Recordkeeping

Explanation

HOPWA Project Sponsor must maintain records to document compliance with HOPWA requirements, which includes determining the eligibility of a family to receive HOPWA assistance.

Justification

This waiver will permit CDPH/OA and HOPWA Project Sponsors to rely upon a family member's self-certification of income and credible information on their HIV status (such as knowledge of their HIV-related medical care) in lieu of source documentation to determine eligibility for HOPWA assistance of families and clients affected by COVID-19.

Applicability

Eligibility is restricted to a low-income person who is living with HIV/AIDS and their eligible family members. This waiver is in effect for Project Sponsors who require written certification of the household seeking assistance of their HIV status and income, and agree to obtain source documentation of HIV status and income eligibility within three months of public health officials determining no additional special measures are necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

CDPH/OA Guidance

Note the intent of this waiver: This waiver is targeted at households that have been affected by COVID-19. It does not change eligibility requirements but relaxes eligibility documentation requirements.

HOPWA Project Sponsors may not postpone eligibility certifications or recertifications. When possible, please attempt to complete all paperwork and documentation via mail, fax, or other secure electronic means. Third-party eligibility and supporting documents are still preferred.

HOPWA Project Sponsors may use electronic signature software to obtain household member signatures. The software must meet the Project Sponsor's confidentiality and data security policies and/or procedures. 

If a HOPWA Project Sponsor needs to procure such software, the cost may be allocated to specific activity categories as a direct service delivery cost or allocated to HOPWA Project Sponsor administration. Note, HOPWA Project Sponsors performing telehealth activities may already have such software and could expand its use to the HOPWA program.

On a case-by-case basis and depending on the presenting circumstances, HOPWA Project Sponsors may complete verification forms that would otherwise require a household member's signature on behalf of the household. In lieu of a household member's signature, HOPWA Project Sponsors may make a note on the verification form that obtaining a signature from the applicable household member was not possible. In the household's case notes, the HOPWA Project Sponsor should document that they are utilizing this flexibility and provide a brief rationale.

For eligibility certifications and recertifications between March 31, 2020 and the date of return to normal operations (i.e., the state of emergency is lifted), HOPWA Project Sponsors may utilize the following eligibility documentation flexibilities:

Proof of HIV seropositivity for at least one household member:

For initial eligibility certifications (new enrollments), HOPWA Project Sponsors may utilize credible information that a person is living with HIV in lieu of source documentation (such as knowledge of a household member's HIV-related medical care or an ARIES record indicating that a household member is living with HIV). If a HOPWA Project Sponsor chooses to use this flexibility:

  • In the household's case notes, the HOPWA Project Sponsor should document that they are utilizing this flexibility and provide a brief rationale.

  • The HOPWA Project Sponsor must track which eligibility certifications utilized this flexibility.

  • Within three months of the date of return to normal operations, the HOPWA Project Sponsor must obtain acceptable proof of HIV seropositivity.

Proof of gross income for all household members 18 years of age and older:

For initial eligibility certifications and interim and annual eligibility recertifications, HOPWA Project Sponsors may utilize both written and verbal self-declarations of income in lieu of source documentation. If a HOPWA Project Sponsor chooses to use this flexibility:

  • In the household's case notes, the HOPWA Project Sponsor should document that they are utilizing this flexibility and provide a brief rationale.

  • The HOPWA Project Sponsor must track which eligibility certifications and recertifications utilized this flexibility.

  • If a HOPWA Project Sponsor's confidentiality and information security protocols permit, the household may complete and submit verification via mail, fax, or other secure electronic means (photocopies, PDFs, photos, etc.).

  • As a last resort, a HOPWA Project Sponsor may verbally confirm the household's income and complete verification on behalf of the household.

  • Within three months of the date of return to normal operations, HOPWA Project Sponsors must obtain acceptable proof of income.

HOPWA - Space and Security

Requirement

Adequate Space and Security

Citation

24 CFR 574.310(b)(2)(iii), Space and security

Explanation

This section of the HOPWA regulations provide that each resident must be afforded adequate space and security for themselves and their belongings.

Justification

This waiver is required to enable grantees and HOPWA Project Sponsors operating housing facilities and shared housing arrangements the flexibility to use optional appropriate spaces for quarantine services of eligible households affected by COVID-19. Optional spaces may include the placement of families in a hotel/motel room where family members may be required to utilize the same space not allowing for adequate space and security for themselves and their belongings.

Applicability

This space and security requirement is waived for grantees addressing appropriate quarantine space for affected eligible households during the allotted quarantined time frame recommended by local health care professionals.

CDPH/OA Guidance

Note the intent of this waiver: This waiver enables HOPWA Project Sponsors to secure and utilize space that would otherwise not meet Housing Quality Standards (HSQ) space and security requirements in order to quarantine/separate household members affected by COVID-19.

HOPWA Project Sponsors may use Facility Based Housing to provide temporary shelters to households, including hotel/motel stays. Transitional short-term housing may now provide quarantine/separate space for household members that are or are not persons living with HIV. HOPWA Project Sponsors may provide separate spaces for a single household with household members located under two different "roofs." In the household's case notes, the HOPWA Project Sponsor should document that they are utilizing this space and security flexibility, providing services for purposes of quarantine/separation, and provide a brief rationale. HOPWA Project Sponsors may choose to enact service restrictions that require evidence or other good cause necessitating quarantine.

HOPWA - Time Limits for Short-Term Housing Facilities 

and Short-Term Rent, Mortgage, and Utility (STRMU) Assistance

Brief Synopsis

STRMU assistance cap is raised from 147 days to 365 days in a 52-week period for regular HOPWA funds. Facility Based Housing short term housing facilities assistance cap is raised from 60 nights to 120 nights in a six-month period for regular HOPWA funds. HUD has extended the waiver period established by the second mega-waiver memo. This waiver ends on June 30, 2021.

Citation

24 CFR 574.330(a)(1), Time Limits

Explanation

A short-term supported housing (STSH) facility may not provide residence to any individual for more than 60 days during any six-month period. STRMU payments to prevent the homelessness of the tenant or mortgagor of a dwelling may not be provided for costs accruing over a period of more than 21 weeks in any 52-week period.

Justification

HUD originally waived this requirement on May 22, 2020 to prevent

homelessness or discharge to unstable housing situations for households residing in short-term housing facilities or units assisted with STRMU if permanent housing could not be achieved within the time limits specified in the regulation. Extending this waiver is necessary because grantees and project sponsors continue to report that households require longer periods of assistance due to financial and health-related hardships stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Applicability

On an individual household basis, grantees or project sponsors may assist eligible households for a period that exceeds the time limits specified in the regulations. A STSH facility may provide residence to any individual for a period of up to 120 days in a six-month period. STRMU payments to prevent the homelessness of the tenant or mortgagor of a dwelling may be provided for costs accruing up to 52 weeks in a 52-week period.

This waiver is in effect until June 30, 2021 for grantees and project sponsors that meet the following criteria:

  1. The grantee or project sponsor documents that a good faith effort has been made on an individual household basis to assist the household to achieve permanent housing within the time limits specified in the regulations but that financial needs and/or health and safety concerns have prevented the household from doing so; and

  2. The grantee or project sponsor has written policies and procedures outlining efforts to regularly reassess the needs of assisted households as well as processes for granting extensions based on documented financial needs and/or health and safety concerns.

CDPH/OA Guidance

On a case-by-case basis, HOPWA Project Sponsors may provide an assistance cap extension for up to 365 days of STRMU assistance and for up to 120 nights of short-term housing assistance. In the household's case notes, the HOPWA Project Sponsor should document that they are utilizing this flexibility and provide a brief rationale. HOPWA Project Sponsors must document their efforts to assist the household to achieve permanent housing within the time limits specified in the regulations, but that financial needs and/or health and safety concerns have prevented the household from doing so.

Prior to utilizing this waiver flexibility, HOPWA Project Sponsors must develop a written protocol for reassessing the needs of assisted households and granting case-by-case extensions based on documented financial needs and/or health and safety concerns. This waiver period started on May 22, 2020 and ends on June 30, 2021.

HOPWA - Property Standards

Brief Synopsis

The HQS waiver from the first mega-waiver memo, which was limited to Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA), now covers all HOPWA housing assistance activity categories. This waiver permits virtual unit inspections under certain circumstances. HUD has extended the waiver period established by the second mega-waiver memo. This waiver ends on June 30, 2021.

Requirement

Property Standards for HOPWA

Citation

24 CFR 574.310(b), HQS

Explanation

This section of the HOPWA regulations provides that all housing assisted with acquisition, rehabilitation, conversion, lease, or repair; new construction of single room occupancy dwellings and community residences; project or tenant-based rental assistance; or operating costs must meet the applicable HQS outlined in the regulations.

Justification

On March 31, 2020 HUD waived the physical inspection requirement for TBRA at 24 CFR 574.310(b) for one year so long as grantees or project sponsors were able to visually inspect the unit using technology to ensure the unit met HQS before any assistance was provided and grantees or project sponsors had written policies in place to physically re-inspect the unit after health officials determined special measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are no longer necessary.

On May 22, 2020 HUD waived the physical inspection requirement for acquisition, rehabilitation, conversion, lease, or repair; new construction of single room occupancy dwellings and community residences; project or tenant-based rental assistance; or operating costs for one year so long as grantees or project sponsors met the criteria outlined in the waiver.

Grantees and HOPWA Project Sponsors continue to report difficulty in conducting the initial inspection of units due to social distancing guidelines; therefore, HUD is waiving the inspection requirement at 24 CFR 574.310(b), as further specified below to allow grantees and project sponsors to quickly move households into housing, which enables social distancing, and helps prevent the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, grantees and project sponsors will need time when social distancing guidelines are no longer in effect to prepare staff to physically re-inspect units for HQS; therefore, HUD is extending the waiver beyond the date the state or local public health official has determined special measures are no longer necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as described below.

Applicability

This waiver is in effect until June 30, 2021 for grantees and HOPWA Project Sponsors that meet the following criteria:

  1. The grantee or HOPWA Project Sponsor is able to visually inspect the unit using technology, such as video streaming, to ensure the unit meets HQS before any assistance is provided; and

  2. The grantee or HOPWA Project Sponsor has written policies to physically re-inspect the unit within three months after the health officials determine special measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are no longer necessary.

CDPH/OA Guidance

Note the intent of this waiver: The HQS waiver now covers all HOPWA housing assistance activity categories. Please note, the first mega waiver memorandum issued from HUD with an effective date of March 31, 2020, and was limited to TBRA only. This waiver period began on May 22, 2020 and will end on June 30, 2021.

HOPWA Project Sponsors may not postpone initial HQS for newly assisted units. For initial HQS inspections of newly-assisted units between May 22, 2020 and June 30, 2021, HOPWA Project Sponsors may utilize the following flexibilities:

  • Before providing assistance, HOPWA Project Sponsors may utilize video streaming technology to visually inspect the unit and ensure that it meets HQS.

  • In the household's case notes, the HOPWA Project Sponsor should document that they are utilizing this flexibility and provide a brief rationale.

  • The HOPWA Project Sponsor must track, which HQS certifications utilized this flexibility.

  • Within three months of the date of return to normal operations, the HOPWA Project Sponsor must physically re-inspect the unit.

HOPWA Project Sponsors may postpone annual HQS re-inspections of assisted units between May 22, 2020 and June 30, 2021. HOPWA Project Sponsors may utilize the following flexibilities:

  • The HOPWA Project Sponsor should contact households to assess whether there are any issues with assisted units, and document the call in the household's case notes, and prioritize these units for physical re-inspection.

  • In the household's case notes, the HOPWA Project Sponsor should document that they are utilizing this flexibility and provide a brief rationale.

  • The HOPWA Project Sponsor must track, which HQS certifications utilized this flexibility.

  • Within three months of the date of return to normal operations, the HOPWA Project Sponsor must physically re-inspect the unit.

Under normal protocols, STRMU, STSH, and housing placement assistance units do not require inspections; however, households must certify their housing meets all standards and requirements. If a HOPWA Project Sponsor's confidentiality and information security protocols permit, the household may complete and submit the self-certification via mail, fax, or other secure electronic means (photocopies, PDFs, photos, etc.). As a last resort, for initial HQS certifications for newly non-TBRA-assisted units between May 22, 2020 and June 30, 2021, a HOPWA Project Sponsor may verbally confirm the unit meets all standards and complete a self-certification on behalf of the household. In lieu of a household member's signature, HOPWA Project Sponsors may make a note on the program form that obtaining a signature from the applicable household member was not possible. In the household's case notes, the HOPWA Project Sponsor should document that they are utilizing this flexibility and provide a brief rationale. 

NOTE: This waiver only applies to HOPWA HQS. It does not waive Lead Safe Housing Rules or Fire Safety Requirements (these are separate from HQS).

HOPWA - FMR Rent Standard

Brief Synopsis

The rent standard waiver from the first mega-waiver memo (which was limited to TBRA) now covers all HOPWA rental assistance activities (TBRA, Project-Based Rental Assistance [PBRA], and Master-Leasing). HUD has extended the waiver period established by the second mega-waiver memo. This waiver ends on June 30, 2021.

Requirement

Rent Standard for HOPWA Rental Assistance

Citation

24 CFR 574.320(a)(2), Rent Standard

Explanation

Grantees must establish rent standards for their rental assistance programs based on Fair Market Rent (FMR) or the HUD-approved community-wide exception rent for unit size. Generally, the rental assistance payment may not exceed the difference between the rent standard and 30 percent of the family's adjusted income.

Justification

HUD originally waived the FMR rent standard requirement for tenant-based rental assistance for one year on March 31, 2020. On May 22, 2020 HUD waived this requirement for one year for all rental assistance types. Grantees and HOPWA Project Sponsors continue to report COVID-19 related health and financial hardships for HOPWA-eligible households. Extending this waiver of the FMR rent standard limit, while still requiring that the unit be rent reasonable in accordance with §574.320(a)(3), will assist grantees and HOPWA Project Sponsors in expediting efforts to identify suitable housing units for rent to eligible households experiencing the ongoing health and financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis.

Applicability

The FMR requirement continues to be waived until June 30, 2021. Grantees and HOPWA Project Sponsors must still ensure the reasonableness of rent charged for a unit in accordance with §574.320(a)(3).

CDPH/OA Guidance

Note the intent of this waiver: This waiver enables HOPWA Project Sponsors to expeditiously meet the critical housing needs of households affected by COVID-19.

This waiver applies Rent Standard and Rent Reasonableness Certifications performed between May 22, 2020 and March 31, 2021. The grantee and/or HOPWA Project Sponsor does not have to establish a specific rent standard value.

  • The rent standard could be any value so long as the gross rent of the proposed unit meets rent reasonableness requirements.

  • The rent standard does not have to be based on FMR.

  • The rent standard could be case-by-case.

  • The rent standard could even be whatever is actually the gross rent of the unit.

Although there is no upper limit, the higher the rent standard, the greater the impact to your budget. Once the waiver period ends, normal rent standard rules resume and the unit would no longer qualify for rental assistance.

For example, a HOPWA Project Sponsor could enact an emergency policy that raises the rent standard to 140% of the default FMR or local exception rent standard for the duration of the waiver period. Further, the HOPWA Project Sponsor could restrict such rent standards to households that have been affected by COVID-19. HOPWA Project Sponsors should consider their current program funds. In the household's case notes, the HOPWA Project Sponsor should document that they are utilizing this flexibility and provide a brief rationale. The rent standard waiver from the first mega-waiver memo (which was limited to TBRA) now covers all HOPWA rental assistance activities (TBRA, PBRA, and Master-Leasing).

This waiver period started on May 22, 2020 and ends on June 30, 2021.

If you have any questions regarding this management memorandum, please contact Muri Bartkovsky, at muri.bartkovsky@cdph.ca.gov or (916) 449-5958.

Thank you for your assistance.

Sincerely, 

Muri Bartkovsky Electronic Signature

Muri Bartkovsky, Chief

Care Housing Unit

Office of AIDS


cc: Kaye Pulupa, MPH, Health Program Specialist I, Care Housing Unit

      Abigail West, Health Program Specialist I, Care Housing Unit

Attachments -

  • Availability of Waivers of Community Planning and Development (CPD) Grant Program and Consolidated Plan Requirements to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 and Mitigate Economic Impacts Caused by COVID-19 (CPD Mega-Waiver One) https://www.hud.gov/sites/dfiles/CPD/documents/Availability-of-Waivers-of-CPD-Grant-Program-and-Consolidated-Plan-Requirements-to-Prevent-the-Spread-of-COVID-19-and-Mitigate-Economic-Impacts-Caused-by-COVID-19.pdf

  • Availability of Additional Waivers for Community Planning and Development (CPD) Grant Programs to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 and Mitigate Economic Impacts Caused by COVID-19 (CPD Mega-Waiver Two) https://www.hud.gov/sites/dfiles/CPD/documents/Additional_Waivers_for_CPD_Grant_Programs_to_Prevent_COVID-19_Spread_and_Mitigate_COVID-19_Economic_Impacts.pdf

  • Availability of Additional Waivers for Community Planning and Development (CPD) Grant Programs to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 and Mitigate Economic Impacts Caused by COVID-19 (CPD Mega-Waiver Five) https://www.hud.gov/sites/dfiles/CPD/documents/DI-7782-MegaWaiver-5-for-CPD_v2-3-26-2021_JAJ_signed.pdf


Attachment One to Memorandum

 

Procedure for Using Available Waivers of Program Requirements to Prevent the

Spread of COVID-19 and Mitigate Economic Impacts Caused by COVID-19

This attachment provides further information on the process that HOPWA Project Sponsors must follow to use the waiver flexibility provided in the memorandum.

HOPWA Project Sponsors must provide notification in writing, either through mail or

e-mail, to their assigned OA housing specialist no less than two days before anticipating use of the waiver flexibility, and include the following details:

  • Requestor's name, title, and contact information;

  • Declared-disaster area(s) where the waivers will be used;

  • Date on which the HOPWA Project Sponsors anticipates first use of the waiver flexibility; and

  • A list of the waiver flexibilities the grantee will use:

    • Self-Certification of Income and Credible Information on HIV Status

    • Space and Security

    • Time Limits for Short-Term Housing Facilities and Short-term Rent, Mortgage, and Utility Payments

    • Property Standards

    • FMR Rent Standard

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