HUD PIH Posts Updated COVID FAQ
Earlier this week, HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing published an update to its Frequently-Asked-Questions (FAQ) document on COVID-19. This update document is version 4 and can be found on our COVID Response page here. NAHRO staff are still in the process of reading through the document and a summary will be available soon. The updated PIH FAQ for COVID-19 (version 4) may be found here.
Minnesota NAHRO Members Respond to Heat Wave During Pandemic
With the weather forecast predicting 90 plus degree days across much of the state this week, check out how these housing authorities are responding while maintaining precautions during the pandemic.
St Paul PHA Open Community Rooms
Until this week, St Paul PHA kept the community rooms in their high rise buildings closed in response to the COVID19 pandemic. However, with temperatures expected to exceed 90 degrees this week, St Paul PHA opted to open them until further notice For many of their residents, the PHA supplied air conditioned community rooms are their only means of cooling off when temperature soar as few residents have their own AC units. The furniture in the community rooms will be arranged to facilitate social distancing.
Executive Director Jon Gutzmann said “We are dealing with riots and COVID; we do not want to open a third front of possible public concern over low income residents suffering from heat exhaustion. Recall just a few summers ago that was a real thing in Chicago and other large PHAs were in the news because tenants died from heat exhaustion.”
Kandiyohi County HRA & McLeod County HRAs to Purchase AC Units with CARES $$
Executive Director Jill Bengtson shared that in addition to opening their community rooms during the heatwave, she is pursuing the use of CARES Act funding to purchase AC units for residents who need to shelter in place. Staff in the HUD Field Office provided the following guidance:
“Since purchasing the ACs is to prevent the spread of COVID-19, you can certainly use CARES Act funds for that purchase and don’t need to worry about action plans, public comment, etc. You do need to ensure costs are reasonable and expenses documented. PIH 2020-07 provides guidance on eligibility and reporting requirements. It doesn’t advise on procurement, but you can find that in EP6, page 6 and OC26, page 19 of the May 29 FAQs at https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/public_indian_housing/covid_19_resources”
George Floyd & Racial Disparities in Minnesota
On a personal note, it has been a tumultuous week for me as I live just a mile from where George Floyd was killed at 38th and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis. I have also witnessed the daily power of public protests seeking justice for his death and at night, the destruction of a neighborhood already gravely impacted by the COVID pandemic. For every person who destroyed something, however, I believe there are more people like myself who are committed to rebuild.
The work to rebuild will take time and must address the racial disparities in our state. The disparities go far beyond the police brutality we saw Monday. It includes housing, education gaps, incarceration rates and income inequality as summarized here. As I grapple with what has happened in the city I call home, I believe the first step is owning these challenges, and realizing that I have a role to play in supporting solutions that work for everyone.
Peace and be well, Shannon