Public Housing ACOP
1-II.A. OVERVIEW AND HISTORY OF THE PROGRAM
The intent of this section is to provide the public and staff an overview of the history and operation of public housing.
The United States Housing Act of 1937 (the Act) is responsible for the birth of federal housing program initiatives, known as public housing. The Act was intended to provide financial assistance to states and cities for public works projects, slum clearance and the development of affordable housing for low-income residents. There have been many changes to the program since its inception in 1937.
The Housing Act of 1965 established the availability of federal assistance, administered through local public agencies, to provide rehabilitation grants for home repairs and rehabilitation. This act also created the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The Housing Act of 1969 created an operating subsidy for the public housing program for the first time. Until that time, public housing was a self-sustaining program.
In 1998, the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act (QHWRA) also known as the Public Housing Reform Act or Housing Act of 1998 was signed into law. Its purpose was to provide more private sector management guidelines to the public housing program and provide residents with greater choices. It also allowed PHAs more remedies to replace or revitalize severely distressed public housing developments. Highlights of the Reform Act include: the establishment of flat rents; the requirement for PHAs to develop five-year and annual plans; income targeting, a requirement that 40% of all new admissions in public housing during any given fiscal year be reserved for extremely low-income families; and resident self-sufficiency incentives.
1-II.B. PUBLIC HOUSING PROGRAM BASICS
HUD writes and publishes regulations in order to implement public housing laws enacted by Congress. HUD contracts with the PHA to administer programs in accordance with HUD regulations and provides an operating subsidy to the PHA. The PHA must create written policies that are consistent with HUD regulations. Among these policies is the PHA’s Admissions and Continued Occupancy Policy (ACOP). The ACOP must be approved by the board of commissioners of the PHA.
The job of the PHA pursuant to HUD regulations is to provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing, in good repair, to low-income families at an affordable rent. The PHA screens applicants for public housing and, if they are found eligible and accepted, the PHA offers the applicant a unit. If the applicant accepts the offer, the PHA will enter into a contract with the applicant known as the lease. At this point, the applicant becomes a tenant of the public housing program.
In the context of the public housing program, a tenant is defined as the adult person(s) (other than a live-in aide who (1) executed the lease with the PHA as lessee of the dwelling unit, or, if no such person now resides in the unit, (2) who resides in the unit, and who is the remaining head of household of the tenant family residing in the dwelling unit. [24 CFR 966.53]. The Public Housing Occupancy Guidebook refers to tenants as residents. The terms tenant and resident are used interchangeably in this policy. Additionally, this policy uses the term family or families for residents or applicants, depending on context.
Since the PHA owns the public housing development, the PHA is the landlord. The PHA must comply with all of the legal and management responsibilities of a landlord in addition to administering the program in accordance with HUD regulations and PHA policy.
1-II.C. PUBLIC HOUSING PARTNERSHIPS
Relationships between the important parties are defined by federal regulations and by contract. To administer the public housing program, the PHA enters into a contractual relationship with HUD through the ACC. The PHA also enters into a contractual relationship with the tenant through the public housing lease. These contracts outline the roles and responsibilities of each party.
Federal regulations further identify the important roles of the parties involved. For the program to work and be successful, all parties involved HUD, the PHA, and the tenant must play their important parts.
The chart below illustrates key aspects of these relationships.
The Public Housing Relationships
What does HUD do?
Federal law is the source of HUD responsibilities. HUD has the following major responsibilities:
Develop regulations, requirements, handbooks, notices and other guidance to implement housing legislation passed by Congress
Allocate operating subsidies to BHHC Allocate capital funding to BHHC
Provide technical assistance to BHHC on interpreting and applying program requirements
Monitor BHHC’s compliance with program requirements and BHHC’s performance in program administration.
What does the Tenant do?
The tenant’s responsibilities are articulated in the public housing lease. The tenant has the following broad responsibilities:
Comply with the terms of the lease
Provide BHHC with complete and accurate information, determined by BHHC to be necessary for administration of the program
Cooperate in attending all appointments scheduled by BHHC
Allow BHHC to inspect the unit at reasonable times and after reasonable notice
Take responsibility for care of the housing unit, including any violations of uniform physical condition standards caused by the family
Not engage in drug-related or violent criminal activity
Notify BHHC before moving or termination of the lease
Use the assisted unit only for residence and as the sole residence of the family. Not sublet the unit or assign the lease
Promptly notify BHHC of any changes in family composition
Not commit fraud, bribery, or any other corrupt or criminal act in connection with any housing programs.
If all parties fulfill their obligations in a professional and timely manner, the program responsibilities will be fulfilled in an effective manner.
What does BHHC do?
BHHC’s responsibilities originate in federal regulations and the ACC. BHHC owns and manages public housing developments, administers the program under contract with HUD and has the following major responsibilities:
Establish local policies
Review applications from interested applicant families to determine whether applicants are eligible for the program
Maintain waiting list and select families for admission
Maintain housing units by making any necessary repairs in a timely manner
Screen families who apply for tenancy, to determine if they will be good renters
Offer units to families (minimize vacancies without overcrowding)
Maintain properties to the standard of decent, safe, sanitary, and in good repair (including assuring compliance with uniform physical conditions standards)
Make sure that BHHC has adequate financial resources to maintain its housing stock
Ensure that families continue to qualify under the program
Collect rent due from the assisted family and comply with and enforce provisions of the lease
Ensure that families comply with program rules
Provide families with prompt and professional service
Comply with all fair housing and equal opportunity requirements, HUD regulations and requirements, the Annual Contributions Contract, HUD-approved applications for funding, BHHC’s ACOP, and other applicable federal, state and local laws.
1-II.D. APPLICABLE REGULATIONS
Applicable regulations include:
24 CFR Part 5: General Program Requirements
24 CFR Part 8: Nondiscrimination
24 CFR Part 902: Public Housing Assessment System
24 CFR Part 903: Public Housing Agency Plans
24 CFR Part 945: Designated Housing
24 CFR Part 960: Admission and Occupancy Policies
24 CFR Part 965: PHA-Owned or Leased Projects
24 CFR Part 966: Lease and Grievance Procedures
Important Phone Numbers
The Benton Harbor Housing Commission now has a dedicated Complaint Line
You can voice your concerns by calling
Police or Fire Emergency
City of Benton Harbor
Benton Harbor Area Schools
Benton Harbor Library
Michigan Gas Utilities
Berrien County Health Department
Lakeland Medical Center
Department of Human Services
Social Security Administration
Southwest Community Action Agency
Indiana Michigan Power