MTW Expansion Cohort #1 Application
Housing Authority of Newnan
December 4, 2020
Part 1: MTW Plan
Vision for PHA's Local MTW Program
The Housing Authority of Newnan (HAN) was established in 1950 by the City of Newnan to provide decent safe and affordable housing to the low-income citizens of Newnan and surrounding county. Since 1950 HAN has gone through many changes; the mission of HAN has expanded to the following: "The Housing Authority of the City of Newnan, Georgia ("HAN") is committed to achieving excellence in providing safe, clean and modern housing assistance while promoting self-sufficiency. Our goal is to be a leader in the City of Newnan housing industry by building a reputation for excellent community service and customer satisfaction." Currently, HAN has 436 Public Housing Units (PH), 85 Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV), with 95 portability HCV, 13 Family Unification Program Vouchers (FUP), 98 market units and 15 Neighborhood Stabilization Homes (NSP). HAN has a growing Family Self-Sufficiency Program (FSS) with over 20 graduations to date. Several of these graduates went on to purchase their own homes. HAN is the largest public housing authority in Coweta County; HAN serves as a leader in meeting the challenge for affordable housing, as well as empowering our clients to become self-sufficient. HAN sees public housing and housing vouchers as stepping stones to self-sufficiency. The motto for HAN is "in, up, and out"; meaning, we want the clients who come in through the public housing program to use their housing assistance as a tool to become self-sufficient and off all public assistance. As a Cohort #1 participant in the Moving to Work (MTW) demonstration program we plan to make our motto a reality for clients participating in the MTW program. Benjamin E. Mays once stated; "It must be borne in the mind that the tragedy of life doesn't lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach". We plan to help our clients to strive for their goals; we can make a difference. HAN knows that every day will not bring all that we want, we are committed to do what we can to offer programs and services that fosters new hope for success to all those we serve. We have a great working relationship with the City of Newnan and local service providers. We plan to nurture our existing relationships and create new partnerships to help our clients reach their goals.
Plan for Future Community/Resident Engagement
HAN has worked with the local community and clients for over 60 years. Over the past twenty-five years HAN has focused on better serving the citizens of Coweta County by increasing our partner engagement and customer service proficiency. During the MTW planning process, HAN utilized informational flyers, our social media outlets, monthly newsletter, Zoom/conference call technology, and direct communication to announce meetings and MTW process information. HAN provided various outlets for feedback throughout the application process, and we supported engagement and comments from all aspects of the community. Each month, clients and community members are invited to attend the Board of Commissioners meetings. Due to COVID, we no longer have the in-person option for attendance; HAN now provides access to these meetings through Zoom conferencing. HAN further utilized this digital platform, for the Resident/Participant meetings and the Public Hearing on the MTW program. These digital platforms enabled those with disabilities easier access to attend and participate. All platforms include access to a language line for those who require translation services to participate in the meetings. Clients and members of the community were notified about the Resident Meetings and Public Hearing through mailed informational flyers to all HAN clients, public postings on Facebook and the local newspaper. Additionally, the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Coordinators talked with their clients during digital Zoom counseling sessions, text message, and the Remind communication platforms. Our active Facebook presence has helped to expand our communication connections, as well as increasing our ability to highlight important news, updates, and activities. Our digital presence has continued to support our outreach efforts to our community during the MTW process and has enhanced our ability to engage more frequently. HAN is in the process of upgrading our website to implement new modes of engagement. In 2021 HAN plans to create a digital Resident Portal to better support clients and participants. The Resident Portal will allow for easier access in obtaining rent statements, submitting work orders, and reviewing other information for individuals of all backgrounds.
PHA Operating and Inventory Information
Within its jurisdiction, HAN manages 436 conventional Public Housing units, and 85 HCV, 13 FUP, 98 market rate units, and 15 NSP units. Out of the 436 Public Housing units, there are 123 units designed for elderly and disable families. Newnan is a city in, the county of, Coweta County, Georgia, is approximately 40 miles southwest of Atlanta. Newnan is one of the fastest growing cities in Georgia, with a population of 33,039 in 2010 and an estimated population of 37,912 in 2016. According to the 2010 census, 33,039 people lived in Newnan; it grew 103.4% since 2000. The following tables demonstrate Newnan's growth from 1970 until 2000 as well as the Atlanta MSA and Atlanta suburbs. The estimated population for 2016 was 37,912. The PH units are spread out over eighteen developments throughout the City of Newnan. The oldest development, John Jordan Homes was built in 1952 and has a total of 47 units. HAN units are combined into four Asset Management Projects (AMP) consisting of AMP 1 with 138 units, AMP 2 has 136, AMP 3 has 119, and AMP 5 has 43 units.
The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program serves low-income individuals and families and also provides specific vouchers to family unification participants. Currently 41% of all vouchers are elderly/disabled or both. HAN has a trend of increased voucher awards for families versus individuals. HAN plans to expand its portfolio by providing Permanent Supportive Housing for chronically homeless individuals, while also applying for additional specialty vouchers such as Mainstream and Family Unification. The overall lack of available affordable housing in Coweta County remains an issue. Currently the main challenge facing HAN clients relates to families seeking one bedroom units and the lack of availability. Only 8 one-bedroom units are occupied by HCV tenants. This is due to low availability of apartments, as apartments are the most common option for one bedroom units. Most apartment complexes in Newnan do not accept the HCV and most private landlords or property management companies offer single family homes that rarely have less than 3 bedrooms. The lack of availability of one bedroom units leads to HCV tenants being "overhoused" in larger units and having to pay larger portions of their income towards rent. HAN plans to offer landlord incentives in order to recruit more Apartment complexes, property management companies, and private landlords to participate in the HCV program. These incentives will address specific landlord complaints that are commonly used as reasons to not accept the voucher, such as tenant problems and PHA bureaucracy.
Plan for Local MTW Program
As stated in the letter of interest, HAN plans to adopt the following statutory objectives: Reduce cost and achieve greater cost effectiveness in federal expenditures; give incentives to families with children where the head of household is working; is seeking work; or are preparing for work by participating in job training, educational programs, or programs that assist people to obtain employment and become economically self-sufficient; and increase housing choices for eligible low-income families. As stated in our vision statement, HAN sees public housing and housing choice vouchers as stepping stones to self-sufficiency. The motto for HAN is "in, up, and out"; meaning, we want the clients who come in through the public housing program to use their housing assistance as a tool to become self-sufficient and off all public assistance.
HAN's decision to participate in the MTW Demonstration is due to our commitment to improve resident outcomes, increase program cost effectiveness, and through the development of a rent reform and incentive program. The proposed program will encourage and support program participants' self-sufficiency, while increasing landlord involvement; and reducing administrative burden and costs. HAN plans to upgrade its existing units, purchase or construct additional units, and provide funds to support additional MTW HCV.
Administrative Efficiency and Cost Effectiveness
MTW flexibilities will allow HAN to make simple changes to eliminate requirements that causes confusion amongst clients and increase the workload for HAN staff. Using the MTW waiver ability, HAN will eliminate the community service requirement, utility allowance and utility reimbursement calculation for MTW Public Housing and HCV participants. Like many housing authorities in the country, HAN performs a standard calculation to assess utility allowances and utility reimbursements. This system is very burdensome to HAN staff because of the time and coordination efforts needed to process these deductions. This change in calculation will give clients greater independence in their budgeting spending. Clients will know the exact amount they will be responsible for. This change will also make the HCV much easier to administer; as well clients will know the exact amount of their rental assistance before they start looking for suitable housing. In addition, HAN plans to block grant our PH and HCV funds. This will help to improve program efficiency and effectiveness.
HAN has adopted and is implementing MTW Work Activity Designation as an approach to strengthen the concepts of community improvement and Family Self-Sufficiency ("FSS") within PH and HCV Programs. The goal is to encourage families to sustain employment, meet educational, training, and FSS goals in order to reach long-term financial independence. In order to be eligible for continued occupancy, all resident head of households and household members 18 years and older must engage in eligible work activity for a minimum of thirty (30) hours per week. Eligible "work activity", must meet the guidelines outlined in section 407(d) of the Social Security Act. Households where the head and spouse, or sole member is age 62 or older, or is a person with disabilities will also be eligible to reside at developments where work activity is a condition of continued occupancy. There will be a 90 day wavier for hardships and situations beyond resident control.
Minimum Rent Increase
The HAN will increase the minimum rent for all clients during our first year of implementation. Our current minimum rent is $50.00 and we are proposing to raise MTW participants in the PH, HCV and Section 32 client's minimum rent to $200.00. All other clients will have a minimum rent of $100. The public housing security deposit for all units will increase to $200.00. This initiative will promote self-sufficiency by encouraging heads-of household and those 18 years and older to work, while raising much-needed revenue. This revenue can be put directly back into the development-allowing HAN to complete long-deferred maintenance projects.
To ensure this initiative target residents who are able to work, elderly and disabled families will be exempt. Households currently paying less than $200.00 per month will be given ninety days' notice of the increase in their family's rent. Hardship requests will be processed per HAN'S MTW Rent Reform Hardship Policy.
Recertification and Interim Rent Changes
HAN plans to implement Biennial Recertification for family units and Triennial Recertification for elderly/disabled households with fixed income only (SS/SSI/pension) for all PH and HCV clients. HAN will eliminate interim recertifications that a MTW family may complete between regular biennial recertifications. Elderly and disabled households are exempt from this provision and are able to complete an interim recertification at any time. A MTW household that believes they qualify for a hardship may request an annual income recertification. HAN will allow one hardship interim recertification between biennial recertifications. MTW families do not have to report increases/decreases in income between biennial recertifications, this activity also has a positive financial impact for families.
HCV Landlord Incentives
HAN will offer one time monetary bonuses for leasing to a HCV tenant, as well as offer reimbursement for tenant caused damages up to a pre-determined amount. HCV will conduct widespread landlord outreach in order to educate potential landlords on the benefits of renting to HCV tenants, the monetary incentives provided by HAN, the streamlined process for HAP calculation that will not fluctuate from month to month, and contact information to the designated HCV liaison. HAN will consider awarding project based vouchers (PBV) as needed to support the construction of additional affordable housing units.
HAN will implement a four year term limit, with a possibility of a one year extension for MTW PH and MTW HCV program participants.
Cap Childcare Deduction
This activity modifies the applicable rules and regulations necessary to limit the amount of childcare deduction that may be taken by MTW program participants. The activity allows HAN to place a cap on childcare deductions in line with the Georgia Childcare and Parent Services (GA CAPS) reimbursement amounts. The GA CAPS program helps low income families afford safe, and quality childcare by subsidizing childcare costs for children under the age of 13.
Childcare costs that exceed GA CAPS reimbursement amounts are reduced to categorical maximum amounts filtered by age. Hardship requests are addressed on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the Hardship Policy. Families continue to furnish proof of their out-of-pocket childcare expenses and HAN staff simply verifies that provided costs are in-line with GA CAPS based on the child's age and service provider. HAN's rental assistance departments are charged with maintaining an updated GA CAPS chart.
Increasing Housing Choices
To continue advancing housing choices for clients, HAN will invest in landlord recruitment, add incentives, client rental supports, and project-based housing flexibility. On the client side, HAN will have case managers to serve as a housing locator, assisting with housing search and rental options specific to the client's needs, and assist with obtaining supportive services. HAN will implement the Section 32 Homeownership Program with the MTW Program where families currently residing in working preference, public housing homes will be required to make at least $35,000 annually. To help clients succeed, they will remain on income based rent for the first two years on the program. The beginning of the third year, the resident will transition to flat rent based on the area fair market rent provided by HUD with no deductions and provide HAN with a preapproval letter to purchase home. HAN will provide down payment assistance to MTW participants attaining their homeownership goal. In addition, HAN will provide housing units for transitional housing to assist the homeless population of Newnan and Coweta County. Currently, Newnan has one transitional housing facility that can house a total of eight occupants including women and children ages 0-14. There is a urgent need for transitional housing for families and other population in the area. We will be working with local service agencies to provide housing and other supportive services for families living in the transitional units. HAN will expand its current homeownership programs and purchase additional single family homes to sell to qualified MTW participants. This will be an ongoing program where we purchase and sell existing properties. HAN will also apply for additional specialty vouchers from HUD as they become available.
Self Sufficiency Initiatives
HAN have made gradual and moderate policy changes to help increase resident self-sufficiency. All MTW participants will be required to enroll in the MTW FSS Program. There will be a monthly escrow incentive for MTW FSS program participants. MTW program participants will also receive monetary incentives for reaching self-sufficiency goals. There will be a $10,000 cap on escrow incentives. Additional funds will go into a revolving fund to be used for additional incentives for MTW participants. All credit renters will be required to enroll in the ROSS Program. In order to encourage unemployed residents to gain employment, HAN will institute a minimum rent of $200 for all MTW, Section 32, HCV participants. Minimum rent will be $100 for all other residents. HAN will eliminate interim rent adjustments in order to decrease the administrative burden of having to calculate minor income changes, but also to encourage resident savings from increased employment earnings.
Proposed Use of MTW Funds
HAN has PH and HCV units in its portfolio. HAN plans to use its funds to promote program flexibility, cost effectiveness, and self-sufficiency. HAN plans to use these funds for the clients incentives and self-sufficiency program, housing search, stabilization services, and assistance with supportive services. HAN will also use funds to provide incentives to encourage landlord participation. HAN will also use funds to build and purchase additional housing units to increase housing choices for clients. In addition, HAN will use funds to support homeless initiatives in our community.
Evidence of Significant Partnerships
The HAN maintains strong relationships, connections, and partnership with various service agencies within the City of Newnan, and Coweta County. Through various grant programs, HAN cultivates strong, consistent collaborations with supportive service agencies to provide and/or coordinate wrap around services. As the administrator of the FUP, FSS, and ROSS grant programs, HAN maintains active MOUs with members of our Program Coordinating Committee (PCC), Continuum of Care (CoC), Sustainable Housing Task Force of Coweta County, One Roof Ecumenical Alliance, Georgia Department of Family and Children's Service, Yeager Road Community Resource Center, Bridging the Gap, West GA Technical College, Work Source Georgia, Community Action for Improvement (CAFI) and Coweta County Chamber of Commerce. Furthermore, these agencies all work with public housing and voucher holders of HAN and have pledged to continue providing the necessary supports to ensure those they work with through our program are assisted in housing choice mobility and connect with programs they need to improve their self-sufficiency.
Significant Dates and Milestones for the PHA's Local MTW Program
HAN anticipates receiving notice of approval for the program in January. Upon approval, HAN will update the FY2021 Annual Plan, Leases, Administrative and Continued Operations Policies (ACOP) for HAN's properties, and HAN Administrative Plan and would commence the public, 45-day comment period in March. With the start of the public comment period, HAN would also provide a public hearing section during Board of Commissioners meeting and plan to hold a couple additional resident meetings to discuss the changes to these plans. Once the public comment period concludes, the Annual Plan would be submitted to HUD in April for final approval. Moreover, from January to June 2021, HAN would be conducting necessary trainings with staff, software and database updates through Scott Accounting, and meetings with stakeholders to finalize MOAs related to the MTW demonstration. HAN plans to begin implementation of the MTW plan on June 1, 2021, with minimum rent requirements, security deposit changes, FSS requirement and incentives, landlord recruitment/retention, recertification, income exemptions and standard deductions, and escrow changes taking effect, as well as enhanced data collection and evaluation activities and new processes. This will also begin the new triennial certification process, although we anticipate a one-year process for full implementation to commence. In August 2021, HAN will present the Annual Plan to the Board of Commissioners, as well as begin the 45-day comment period, that will further highlight the goals and objectives for our MTW program in 2022. The first quarterly meeting of the HAN MTW Advisory Committee will take place in fall of 2021, to establish the input and evaluation process for this group. Beginning in January 2022, any additional new MTW activities will be implemented and the HAN Advisory Committee will continue their quarterly meetings. Summer of 2022 will see the completion of the full implementation of the triennial certification process and the initial one-year evaluation process and data analysis to will inform not only the Annual Plan and adjustment the administrative plans, but will also be shared with the HAN Advisory Committee and Board of Commissioners to help inform their input on the process as it continues.