I have hesitated to publish a post on how the federal government shutdown might impact professional apartment management and housing as I keep thinking Congress and the Administration will jointly find a Profile in Courage moment and resolve the issues that divide them. Well, as I am still waiting, here goes:
A couple of days before the shutdown, HUD published its contingency plan that would go into effect if the necessary appropriations bills were not passed. Which, of course, is exactly what took place.
In the case of a government shutdown, most federal employees are required to stop working. Only “excepted” employees are able to report to work and “excepted” is a narrowly defined term to include employees necessary to address emergency situations and to perform work funded by fees rather than appropriations. HUD has over 8,700 employees. Of which less than 350 are considered “excepted.” To be sure, additional employees may be asked to report to work on an as-needed basis to perform specific functions. HUD estimated that no more than 400 additional employees would report to work each day. Similarly, among USDA’s rural housing programs, Rural Development (“RD”) has issued plans for a temporary shutdown. Of RD’s 4,730 employees, it is believed that no more than 53 employees are at work now.
This means the vast majority of HUD’s and USDA’s employees are furloughed. While the government is shutdown, employees who are furloughed are not permitted to be making calls, checking emails, or doing any other kind of work.
Here are a couple of examples of programs and functions impacted:
• Tenant-Based Rental Assistance. Housing Assistance Payments and administrative fees are projected to be disbursed through October. Tenant protection vouchers for public housing or multifamily actions will not be processed.
• Project-Based Rental Assistance. HUD will make some payments under Section 8 contracts, rent supplement, Section 236, and project rental assistance contracts (PRACs) where funds from prior appropriations or recaptures are still available. It does not appear that HUD will process any Section 8 contract renewal or waiver requests during the shutdown.
• Public Housing. Local public housing agencies (PHAs) will not shut down, but PHAs that receive significant federal funding may be impacted by the shutdown. It is believed that most of the country’s PHAs have the necessary funds to continue providing public housing assistance through at least the end of October. After October, I suspect each PHA will need to review its own resources.
- Fair Housing & Equal Opportunity. Most employees are furloughed and, as such, cases will not be processed or investigated. Questions will not be answered.
For now, the bottom line for apartment management at this time is to keep doing what we do. Although most of us will not hear back from HUD and/or USDA. If the shutdown heads into another month, I will report back on further contingency plans.
Just A Thought.