The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has taken a significant step in its ongoing efforts to ensure the effectiveness and smooth implementation of the National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate (NSPIRE) program. HUD has extended the compliance date for NSPIRE, affecting both the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) and Project Based Voucher (PBV) programs, as well as Community Planning and Development (CPD) programs, including the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME), Housing Trust Fund (HTF), Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA), Emergency Solution Grants (ESG), and Continuum of Care (COC) programs. This extension to October 1, 2024 provides Public Housing Authorities (PHAs), jurisdictions, participants, and grantees with additional time to incorporate NSPIRE standards specific to their programs and allows them to transition to NSPIRE at their own pace.
It is important to note for the Public Housing and Multifamily Programs have not been extended; the effective dates of July 1, 2023 for PH and October 1, 2023 for MF still apply for transition to the NSPIRE protocol.
Providing Time for a Seamless Transition
HUD acknowledges the varying needs of different participants in NSPIRE implementation. While some PHAs may be ready to adopt NSPIRE immediately, others may require additional time to prepare their HCV and PBV inspection programs. This extension is intended to provide PHAs with the necessary time to:
- Train staff adequately.
- Effectively communicate with landlords.
- Allow HUD to provide additional subordinate notices and technical resources needed for a smooth transition to the NSPIRE standards.
For CPD programs like HOME and HTF, participants must develop property standards that align with the requirements outlined in 24 CFR 5.703. These standards apply to rental or homeownership projects, including rehabilitation, ongoing inspections of HOME- and HTF-assisted rental housing during the period of affordability, and acquisition of standard housing for homeownership. HOME programs must also adhere to these standards for units occupied by tenants receiving HOME tenant-based rental assistance.
Additionally, the NSPIRE final rule mandates that HUD publishes lists of specific deficiencies in a Federal Register notice. These deficiencies must be corrected before HOME or HTF project completion or during the period of affordability for occupied units. While HUD has yet to publish this notice for HOME and HTF deficiencies, it is anticipated that these deficiencies will be a subset of those in the NSPIRE Inspection Standards published on June 22, 2023 (the “NSPIRE Standards”) for public housing, multifamily housing, and housing choice vouchers/project-based vouchers (88 FR 40832).
To fully align with the NSPIRE final rule, HOME participating jurisdictions and HTF grantees must develop rehabilitation and ongoing property standards, along with policies and procedures that incorporate these specific deficiencies, applicable requirements in the NSPIRE final rule, and other relevant HOME and HTF regulations.
Instructions for PHAs: PHAs that wish to continue using HQS beyond October 1, 2023, must follow specific instructions to ensure a seamless transition to NSPIRE:
- Notification: PHAs must notify HUD of their intent to continue using HQS and specify the date on which they plan to transition to NSPIRE. This transition date may not be later than October 1, 2024.
- Email Notification: PHAs should send this notification via email to NSPIREV_AlternateInspection@hud.gov. It is advisable to send a courtesy copy to their Field Office representative.
- Subject Line: The subject line of the email should read: “Notification of Extension of HQS, [PHA code].”
- Body of Email: In the body of the email, PHAs should include the following information:
- PHA name.
- PHA code.
- A clear statement confirming the intention to continue using HQS.
- The tentative date when the PHA plans to implement NSPIRE (which may not be later than October 1, 2024).
Instructions for HOME Participating Jurisdictions and HTF Grantees
- Although the NSPIRE final rule applies to projects with HOME or HTF funds committed on or after October 1, 2023, participating jurisdictions and grantees are not required to complete implementation until the compliance date of October 1, 2024.
- To prepare for the compliance date, update property standard regulatory citations and requirements in written agreement templates with State recipients, subrecipients, and project owners, as required by 24 CFR 92.504(c) and 24 CFR 93.404(c).
- If you intend to comply with the NSPIRE final rule as of the effective date (October 1, 2023), review the deficiencies established in the NSPIRE Standards notice at 88 FR 40832. Compare these requirements to your existing rehabilitation and property standards, as well as your inspection procedures and checklists.
- Remember that, while HUD intends to publish a subset of the deficiencies in the NSPIRE Standards applicable to HOME and HTF projects, those implementing the changes before publication must incorporate the full set of deficiencies.
- Manage the day-to-day operations of your programs in accordance with all program requirements and written agreements. However, note that you cannot impose new requirements resulting from updated regulations on project owners unless the written agreements permit such changes. Evaluate whether existing agreements automatically update when regulatory changes take effect or if amendments are necessary.
Instructions for CoC, ESG, and HOPWA Programs
Many Continuum of Care (CoC), Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG), and Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) recipients administer housing choice vouchers or project-based vouchers. These programs may adopt NSPIRE standards starting from October 1, 2023. The extension of the compliance date does not prevent them from implementing NSPIRE standards during this period. HUD also plans to provide further guidance on which NSPIRE standards apply to CoC, ESG, and HOPWA programs through a Federal Register notice.
Preparing for the Future
HUD’s decision to extend the NSPIRE compliance date for these programs reflects its commitment to ensuring a smooth transition for all stakeholders. Whether you are involved in HCV, PBV, or CPD programs, this extension provides an opportunity to prepare effectively for the changes ahead.
To support you in this pivotal transition phase, we cordially invite you to participate in our upcoming webinar: Understanding NSPIRE, scheduled for October 5th at 1 pm Eastern Time. This webinar is equally relevant to individuals involved in any program affected by NSPIRE. During this enlightening two-hour session, NCHM’s Vice President of Client Programs, Trevor Brandl, will provide comprehensive insights into the NSPIRE initiative, highlighting the critical changes that will affect PHAs, Owners, Agents, jurisdictions, participants, and grantees of HUD-assisted properties. Trevor will walk you through the various guidance provided up to this point to help you to become familiar with the critical rules and notices that make up the NSPIRE guidance.
Don’t miss out on this invaluable opportunity to gain a profound understanding of NSPIRE and its implications for your role and responsibilities. Stay well-informed, stay compliant, and mark your calendar for October 5th, when we embark on the journey of Understanding NSPIRE.