By Jo Ikelheimer, MA, RHM, Director of LIHTC Compliance
As NCHM's Director of LIHTC Compliance, I was encouraged to find that the National Council of State Housing Agencies' recently published Recommended Practices in Housing Credit Administration placed additional emphasis on the need for broader and ongoing compliance training.
First published in 1993, the latest edition of NCSHA's Recommended Practices includes 46 recommendations for state housing agencies. Four of these were explicitly training-related:
No. 34: Owner and Manager Training This recommendation expands upon an earlier suggestion that site managers receive training prior to LIHTC properties being occupied, recognizing "the complexity of compliance requirements" and the need for periodic training throughout the compliance period. A number of state agencies have been proactive in setting certification requirements to verify management competency; others have not.
I could not agree more that ongoing training is key to maintaining the management expertise required to successfully maintain compliance within LIHTC portfolios. Even after obtaining certification in foundational compliance know-how, regular check-ups – whether advanced courses or compliance-related webinars – can make a significant difference in the compliance health of a housing credit manager and the properties they oversee.
No. 41: Encouraging Fair Housing Compliance Although this recommendation was included in a previous publication, the current version goes further by advising state agencies to “require owners and property managers to attend fair housing training prior to leasing the property and on a regular basis throughout the compliance and extended use periods.” In addition, NCSHA now encourages the use of affirmative fair housing marketing plans at LIHTC sites – a requirement for many other affordable programs, but not currently for tax credits.
No. 42: Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Compliance This new recommendation advises owners of Housing Credit developments to train property management staff that interact with applicants and tenants on VAWA requirements. In lieu of IRS guidance on VAWA, many state housing agencies have chosen to adopt HUD's final rule on VAWA, including the usage of the four forms published in 2016 to support VAWA compliance. As such, NCHM recommends looking to the appropriate state housing agency for their plans to implement these suggestions if they have not already established policy and to pursue VAWA compliance training to ensure understanding of the rule and its requirements.
No. 46: Agency Staff Training NCSHA now recommends that LIHTC program staff be given opportunities for continuing education and training to assure compliance with requirements and strengthen their program knowledge and skills. NCHM has provided LIHTC training to numerous state housing agency personnel over the years and has benefitted from strong relationships with a number of state housing agencies. This is another of the expanded recommendations that we wholeheartedly support.
If you would like to read the Recommended Practices yourself, they may be accessed at http://www.ncsha.org. We’ll address other provisions of this document and their implications for LIHTC management in future HMU publications.