Frequently Asked Questions
Affordable Rental Housing Division
1. Looking down the line, re-certifications may well reflect delayed processing time during this period. Specifically, what kind of documentation will OHCS expect to see in those files that due diligence was exercised during this period?
a. OHCS will allow a 60-day delay on Annual Income Recertification’s (through May 17th), in order to allow property management to implement practices for meeting this requirement in a way that limits the need for personal contact. Management entities must submit an explanation of this delay in recertification and bring all units into compliance following this 60-day period.
i. This does not apply to initial income certifications, which are expected to be done as required per program regulations.
ii. This does not apply to HUD Section 8, owners and agents are urged to work with tenants to adjust rent payments or enter in forbearance agreements to lessen the impact of COVID-19 prevention measures.
b. As noted, OHCS would expect an explanation of any delay or inability to complete a recertification in the tenant file. This can be self-attested summary of contact and attempts as well as copies of any correspondence with tenants; be clear that the delay is related to COVID-19.
2. OHCS has not come out with guidance on e-signatures and should, during this time of trying to limit physical contact. Is Oregon asking our Managers to get wet signatures on all of their compliance paperwork or not?
As included in the 3/25/2020 guidance document; electronic signatures are allowable. These are likely to need to be replaced with wet signatures as soon as allowable per COVID-19 Guidance
3. Coming from the paperwork compliance side of things: We are wondering what kinds of alternates you are allowing during this time. I thought I heard in one training that we can use the award letter from November for the whole year? Would you allow more notarized self-statements in lieu of 3rd party verification? Our process is already slowed by having to mail, email and fax paperwork out instead of meeting face to face. We are trying to get permission to be more creative in our ways to get people housed fast. We would document the file as to why it was done "creatively." Here is what the City said: ‘I know it is difficult to get third party verifications of income right now to get new residents into housing or for recertifications. We have not heard any specific instructions from HUD about how to handle this. If you need to do work around such as using more resident provided documentation, or using electronic signatures, document what you did and put a note in the file explaining the process. I will let you know if we hear anything more specific. It is important to get people into housing right now.
a. It is important to understand that projects with multiple funding sources may have different abilities to exercise flexibility. Management is still encouraged to make every attempt that is available to collect proper 3rd party verification, this also includes 3rd party documents provided by the tenant. Example, tenant emails manager with a copy of their paystubs provided to them by their employer OR tenant emails manager with a copy of their 2020 SSA award letter mailed to them from SSA. If all attempts have failed to verify, this should be properly documented in the tenant file and a self-certification from the family may suffice. Please note that all self-certifications still need be notarized or witnessed in front of management, maybe through a video chat or other electronic form that is available by management.
Low Income Housing Energy Assistance (LIHEAP)
4. Is LIHEAP going to be extended into Spring to accommodate the increase in utility assistance need? If so, how will this work as in-person meetings are largely unavailable? Will there be an online application for utility assistance?
a. In Oregon, LIHEAP is a year-round program. This year, specifically related to the COVID-19 health crisis, Congress has authorized additional funding for LIHEAP. We do not know yet how much will be awarded to Oregon or when the funding will be released. We do know that the expenditure period has been extended to help accommodate the end of the utility moratoriums and the anticipated higher-than-normal arrearages.
Most of our community action partners already have experience with mail-out applications and using electronic signatures, and all have considerable experience serving homebound clients.
Electronic applications are already available from some agencies and all are able to mail applications when needed.
5. Is there going to be any state assistance fund to pay rent in April due to loss of work or hours? This would be prior to most being able to receive unemployment benefits.
The legislature is considering potential interventions to ease the economic impact of COVID-19 on Oregonians; Nothing has been decided at this time, but the conversation will be had at the anticipated Special Session of the Legislature.
6. Does the Governor expect any leeway to be granted about signature requirements on tenant income certifications for initial certifications that must be completed while the stay at home order is in place? We have two projects that we are working on certifications for and the deadline is fast approaching. Normally we would ask people to come in and sign forms in person, but obviously we can’t do that right now. Having to do them by mail will make the process lengthy. Thank you!”
a. See answer to question #1, above
7. Will the State be asking lenders holding mortgages for affordable housing for a three month deferment of mortgage payments to match the three-month ban on evictions for nonpayment of rent?”
OHCS has spoken with lenders, and they are intending to work with individual projects to determine the best path forward to keeping the project from entering into a default, including the use of reserves. OHCS is pursuing strategies to be responsive to the need for continued operational resources to meet debt payment, but at this point does not have any final strategy or legislative resources to do so.
8. Will management agents have a grace period or forgiveness for tenant certifications that are completed late due to offices being closed and a no personal contact rule during the Covid-19 shut down?”
a. See answer to question #1, above
9. Vacant units will be vacant longer than usual due to the of lack of management and vendors to turn them. Will this need to be clarified as to why?
Management should make every attempt to complete turnover work and re-rent the unit as quickly as possible. However, if processes are impacted by COVID-19, management needs to have clear documentation in the unit file; priority should be made on getting people into units, as much as social distancing practices can allow.
10. Can tenants who are exhibiting serious or redundant lease violations (other than late or no rent) be given a 30-day termination notice? If yes, can we file with the courts weeks or more later once the courts open even though the 30-day date has well passed it’s deadline?”
a. Please consult with your legal counsel or attorney.
11. Are people on fixed incomes eligible for waiving the rent due? They are not affected financially by the pandemic but we are seeing that some are using the rent exemption and allowances and spending their rent money on stocking up on food and non-food items out of fear instead.
a. The eviction moratorium for loss of income due to the COVID-19 health crisis is not a rent waiver; if there are income sources to pay rent, rent should be paid. Any rent not paid during the eviction moratorium will be due and payable in the future.