HUD waives U.S. Housing Act provisions for Family Self-Sufficiency program

House MazeWith the passage of the 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act, Congress required HUD to unify the operations of the public housing and Housing Choice Voucher Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) programs. In order to implement the integrated program, Congress authorized HUD to waive statutory provisions related to the FSS program. To that end, a recent Federal Register notice introduced the following waivers and alternative requirements, which are effective as of December 29, 2014:

  • Waiver/Alternative #1: Both public housing and HCV program participants may count towards compliance with public housing agencies’ mandatory FSS participation and graduation levels.
  • Waiver/Alternative #2: To support the principle that FSS is a voluntary program, public housing applicants, like HCV applicants, will not be delayed in the receipt of housing assistance due to an election not to participate in FSS.
  • Waiver/Alternative #3: Neither HCV nor public housing assistance may be terminated or withheld as a consequence of failure to complete the FSS Contract of Participation without good cause.

This waiver authority is part of a trend in recent legislation by which Congress has authorized HUD to waive portions of the U.S. Housing Act to facilitate program implementation. Although typically HUD may only waive regulations, not statutes, Congress gave HUD broad statutory waiver authority for implementation of the Rental Assistance Demonstration program. Statutory waiver authority was also granted to HUD for the Strong Cities, Strong Communities program and has been part of the Moving to Work program since its inception in 1996.