HUD published the final rule implementing the National Standards for Physical Inspection of Real Estate (NSPIRE) in the Federal Register on May 11. A proposed rule was published on January 13, 2021 (see Memo, 1/19/21), for which NLIHC submitted comments (see Memo, 3/22/21). NSPIRE seeks to strengthen HUD’s physical condition standards and improve HUD oversight. The NSPIRE standards are meant to align and consolidate the two sets of physical inspection regulations (contained mostly at 24 CFR part 5) used to evaluate HUD housing across multiple programs: the Housing Quality Standards (HQS) and Uniform Physical Condition Standards (UPCS). NSPIRE physical inspections will focus on three areas: the housing units where HUD-assisted residents live, elements of their buildings’ non-residential interiors, and the exteriors of buildings, ensuring that components of these three areas are “functionally adequate, operable, and free of health and safety hazards.” The new inspection protocol will commence on July 1, 2023, for public housing and on October 1, 2023, for the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, the various programs administered by HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing Programs, and the housing programs overseen by HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD).
NSPIRE applies to all HUD housing previously inspected by HUD’s Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC), including public housing and Multifamily Housing programs such as Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA), Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly, Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities, and FHA Insured multifamily housing. NSPIRE also applies to HUD programs previously inspected under the Housing Quality Standards (HQS) regulations: the HCV program (including Project-Based Vouchers (PBVs)) and the CPD programs (HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME), the national Housing Trust Fund (HTF), Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA), Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG), and Continuum of Care (CoC) homelessness assistance programs).
Further information will be provided in three “Subordinate Notices.” HUD proposed an NSPIRE Standards notice on June 17, 2022, focusing on health and safety physical inspection standards (see Memo, 6/27/22). HUD also proposed an NSPIRE Scoring notice on March 28, 2023 (see Memo, 4/3 and 5/1). Both the Standards notice and Scoring notice will be final and effective before HUD begins inspections under NSPIRE. Every three years, the Standards and Scoring notices will be updated and published for comment in the Federal Register. HUD did not provide an NSPIRE Administrative notice for comment but will publish a final notice before July 1, 2023, outlining the NSPIRE processes for inspections, submitting evidence of deficiency correction, and gathering resident feedback on property conditions, as well as other administrative requirements. NLIHC is concerned that residents and advocates will not be able to comment on the process of gathering resident feedback regarding property conditions.
In a separate paragraph, the preamble to the final rule states, “At a later date, HUD will publish a third additional notice to implement a process for collecting and utilizing resident feedback as part of the inspection process.” This sentence is confusing because the preamble previously mentioned that the content of the anticipated NSPIRE Administrative notice would also discuss a process for gathering resident feedback on property conditions. Because it pertains to resident feedback regarding the inspection process, NLIHC is concerned that such a notice might not materialize, or that it could materialize only after the inspection process is well underway and be difficult to amend.
HUD’s CPD will issue separate notices (“CPD NSPIRE notices”) before October 1, 2023, to implement the rule for the individual CPD programs, which generally do not adopt the methods in the three Subordinate Notices. HUD will also issue a notice to provide guidance for the Small Rural PHA Public Housing Assessment System (PHAS) and Section Eight Management Assessment Program (SEMAP) scoring processes.
NLIHC has prepared an analysis of recommendations submitted by NLIHC regarding the proposed NSPIRE rule with the final rule. In the preamble to the final rule, HUD ignored some of NLIHC’s recommendations while providing (often weak) reasons for not accepting other recommendations. NLIHC intends to provide a summary of the key provisions of the final rule implementing NSPIRE in a future Memo article.
Read the May 11 Federal Register version of the final NSPIRE rule at: https://bit.ly/3pvM9XM
Find an easier-to-read preview version of the final NSPIRE rule at: https://bit.ly/3pxumiX
Read a HUD media release about the final NSPIRE rule at: https://bit.ly/3Biddwk
Find HUD’s NSPIRE website at: https://bit.ly/2V9qvV3
More information about all HUD programs subject to the new NSPIRE rule is available in NLIHC’s 2023 Advocates’ Guide.