The American Rescue Plan Act was signed into law on March 11, 2021. Within this piece of legislation funding was included for a new program designed to be an emergency source for specific families. It is the Emergency Housing Voucher Program.
Not to be confused with what we already know about tenant-based or project-based vouchers, this program has some key features and requirements to be aware of and we are going to break it all down for you.
Let’s get started!
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Emergency Housing Voucher program, or EHV, is a new housing voucher program funded by the American Rescue Plan Act. HUD has allotted 70,000 housing choice vouchers to local Public Housing Authorities for the purpose of assisting individuals and families who need it most and who fall into one of the following categories:
- At risk of homelessness
- Fleeing, or attempting to flee, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault stalking, or human trafficking
- Were recently homeless or have a high risk of housing instability
How it Works
Emergency Housing Vouchers are different than tenant-based housing choice vouchers and come with specific requirements and eligibility criteria. These criteria are designed to expedite the processing and utilization of this funding.
A few examples of these special criteria are the following:
- Self-certification of income
- Pre-Inspection of units
- Self-certification of social security documentation
The EHV program requires PHAs to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with CoCs and VPS to receive referrals for individuals and families that may qualify. This is done through a system called the Coordinated Entry system (CE). Under special circumstances, HUD may allow the PHA to take applications directly from the applicant.
Unlike the HCV program, EHV requires PHAs to assist applicants with their housing search in order to ensure that families have the necessary support to find affordable housing. The housing search assistance may be provided directly by the PHA, or through the CoC or another partnering agency.
The EHV process can be broken down into 3 parts:
- EHV Application Process
- EHV Lease Up
Referral – CoC
- Comes from the CoC’s CE system or referral partner
- Applicant is referred to the PHA
- Application assistance and support services are provided
EHV Application Process – PHA
- EHV intake & application processing
- EHV briefing
- Housing search & other services to help expedite process
- HQS inspection and Request for Tenancy approval processing
- HAP contract with owner/landlord
EHV Lease Up
- Ongoing services may be provided by the CoC if needed
According to HUD, a CoC is a plan to bring housing and services to people who are homeless as they move to stable housing. It includes action steps to end their homelessness and prevent a return to homelessness.
HUD identifies four specific and necessary parts for these CoCs:
- Outreach, intake, and assessment to identify needs and help them get connected with resources to address them. Emergency shelter as an immediate and safe alternative to sleeping on the streets, especially for homeless families with children.
- Transitional housing with supportive services to allow for the development of skills that will be needed once permanently housed.
- Permanent supportive housing to provide individuals and families with an affordable place to live with additional services if needed.
To summarize, CoCs take on the task of supporting the homeless community and their needs. This includes keeping a count of, and reporting on, the homeless population, and all of the available resources for homeless persons in their area. This ultimately has an impact on the funding that is granted to the community for providing assistance.
What Does the PHA Need to Know?
The implementation of this program must be a community-wide effort for it to be successful. This program is meant to target specific needs in your community. But this can only be accomplished through teamwork.
Take advantage of everything these local organizations have to offer. Housing needs are just one part of the picture. Oftentimes, your assisted families and individuals have needs that go far beyond a safe place to sleep. Utilizing these resources will enable you to offer more to your families and make each PHA better equipped to serve your community.