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Public Housing Agency (PHA) Plan Overview

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 -   Background
 -   Congressional Intent and Purpose in Creating the PHA Plan Requirement
 -   The PHA Plan as a Strategic Planning Tool
 -   PHA Resident Community Involvement in the PHA Plan Process

Related Information
 -   PHA Plan Desk Guide
 -   Capital Fund
 -   Housing Choice Vouchers
 -   Public Housing Drug Elimination
 -   Public Housing Reform


Section 511 of the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act (QHWRA) of 1998 created the public housing agency Five-Year and Annual Plan requirement. The Five-Year Plan describes the mission of the agency and the agency’s long-range goals and objectives for achieving its mission over a five-year period, and their approach to managing programs and providing services for the upcoming year. The PHA Plan also serves as the annual application for grants to support improvements to public housing buildings (Capital Fund Program) and safety in public housing (Public Housing Drug Elimination Program).

Any local, regional or State agency that receives funds to operate Federal public housing or Section 8 tenant-based assistance (vouchers) programs must submit a PHA Plan. The law considers these agencies to be public housing agencies even though they may not be called a PHA locally. For example, State Housing Finance Agencies that administer vouchers are considered PHAs and required to submit a PHA Plan.

Congressional Intent and Purpose in Creating the PHA Plan Requirement

The Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act (QHWRA) of 1998 provided more flexibility and discretion for PHAs to use funding to address the needs of low-income families. The PHA Plan is Congress’s way of ensuring that the PHA is accountable to the local community for choices it makes with this flexibility.

With the creation of the PHA Plan requirement, the law specified both the type of information that should be included in the plan – the content of the Plan – and the steps a PHA must go through to obtain resident and public involvement in the plan – the process for its development. In addition, the law required that the plan be consistent with the housing and community development plans of the community (as described in the jurisdiction’s Consolidated Plan).

To ensure public participation in the process, PHA Plans, including attachments and supporting documents, must be available for inspection by the public at the principal office of the PHA during normal business hours both during the public review period prior to the board hearing and submission to HUD, as well as after HUD approval of the PHA Plan. HUD encourages PHAs to make the PHA Plan available at the principal business office(s) of the jurisdiction(s) served by the PHA if different from the PHA’s principal office (or of several of the jurisdictions served by the PHA if the PHA covers a large jurisdiction). PHAs are also encouraged to make the PHA Plan and attachments available at other locations, such as libraries or community centers and on PHA or community web sites.

The PHA Plan as a Strategic Planning Tool

With the passage of the QHWRA, PHAs have many more “tools” to manage their programs. These tools include:

  • Flexible rent structures and payment standards
  • New admissions and occupancy procedures (including site-based waiting lists)
  • Alternative management options
  • Steady formula funding for capital and drug elimination programs
  • Replacement of obsolete public housing with vouchers
  • Strengthened ties to Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) agencies.

The PHA Plan is the opportunity for the PHA to fully consider these tools and then inform the public how the PHA will use them. The PHA Plan process is an annual opportunity to determine the role of the PHA in the community – now and in the future. Strategic planning helps the PHA decide what mechanisms it will use to reach its goals.

PHA Resident Community Involvement in the PHA Plan Process

The PHA’s resident community plays an important role in the development of the PHA Plan. Residents can ensure that their needs are being addressed and become more involved in issues that directly affect them. In addition, through involvement in the PHA Plan, residents will be more aware of the process that the PHA undergoes to prioritize agency activities. PHAs also benefit by working with residents since the residents can provide important information regarding the physical condition of the developments, physical or management improvements that are needed, and resident self-sufficiency needs. This information helps PHAs to prioritize capital improvement activities and obtain supportive services for residents.

PHAs are required to establish one or more Resident Advisory Boards (RAB) to enable residents to advise the PHA in Plan development. The membership consists of individuals who reflect and represent the residents assisted by the PHA. The RAB makes recommendations regarding the development of the PHA Plan, and any significant amendments or modifications to the Plan.

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