Shalom House COVID-19 Administrative Plan
UPDATED: April 13, 2020
In response to the State of Maine’s civil state of emergency, Shalom House Inc. will be implementing the following plan to support people remotely during the Coronavirus pandemic for both the Bridging Rental Assistance Program (BRAP) and Shelter Plus Care (SPC) Program. Certain guidance is related to the CoC/SPC program only and is indicated as such, as the Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) has requested the following HUD waivers for the CoC/SPC program and will be following HUD’s guidance.
Bridging Rental Assistance Program (BRAP) and Shelter Plus Care (SPC)
Paperwork & Certifications
At this time, Shalom House has moved from completing certifications and other required paperwork in-person and will be establishing a certification by mail-only system to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Annual Re-Certification Paperwork
Shalom House has established a two staged process for any program participant that has an annual re-certification due within the next 90 days during this public health crisis. The first stage of the process will require a questionnaire be mailed to the program participant to complete, as well as a request to provide verification of their current household income. The program participant will be mailed the questionnaire, as well as a pre-stamped and addressed envelope for ease when returning the requested documents. Once that information has been returned to Shalom House, the housing specialist will then update the applicant file with the information provided and mail the program participant all required annual re-certification paperwork for signature and to be returned to Shalom House.
As Shalom House staff has been experiencing an increase in requests from tenants who have been laid-off or lost employment due to COVID-19, we are allowing flexibility in the form and types of income verification we are accepting during this time. Until public health officials determine no additional special measures are necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Shalom House Inc. will allow the usage of emails, screen shots, and any other form of documentation that permits an income determination to be made.
*Note regarding income verification: while this Administrative Plan is in effect, Shalom House is deviating from our standard practice and allowing the use of scanned documents, client photographs, emails, and any other electronic form of income verification that allows the housing specialist to make an income determination. If a determination cannot be made based on what is provided, a different form of verification may be requested
Housing Quality Standards (HQS) and Move-Out Inspection
Initial Physical Inspection of Unit
Shalom House Inc. will waive the initial physical inspection requirement to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and assist with housing. Shalom House will be conducting move-in inspections using technology which allows for social distancing between the inspector and the landlord showing the unit to ensure that the unit meets HQS standards before any assistance is provided. Shalom House will physically re-inspect the unit within 3 months after the health officials determine special measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are no longer necessary. If for some reason, a unit is unable to be remotely inspected using technology, a written request will be submitted to Shalom House by the prospective landlord and Shalom House will seek to accommodate the request.
Annual Re-Inspection of Units
Shalom House Inc. will waive the annual re-inspection requirement during this public health crisis and will resume inspections within 90 days once health officials determine special measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are no longer necessary; this period began on March 31, 2020 and will end no later than March 31, 2021. Waiving the annual re-inspection requirement during this public health crisis will help allow recipients to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If for some reason during this time a tenant or landlord requests a Special Inspection or a routine annual re-inspection be completed, a written request will be submitted to Shalom House by the parties requesting the inspection and Shalom House will seek to accommodate the request either remotely via technology, or via physical inspection.
Note: Any unit which has a current failed inspection with a due date that falls within the 1-year timeline specified above, will be granted an extension until the repairs/corrections can be verified safely either remotely using technology, or via physical re-inspection. If the repairs/corrections can be verified using a combination of photos and purchase receipts, as well as verbally confirmed by the tenant, a unit will be deemed as a Pass
Shalom House Inc. will waive the move-out inspection requirement during this public health crisis and will resume inspections within 90 days once health officials determine special measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are no longer necessary. If a move-out inspection is requested during the time frame during which this Administrative Plan covers, rather than inspect the unit physically, landlords will be expected to provide photographs of damages to a unit along with supporting documentation of the repairs needed (supplies and labor invoices). Landlords will, however, not be able to collect any more than the maximum allowed by program rules.
Shelter Plus Care (SPC) Only
Disability Documentation for Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH)
Shalom House Inc. will waive the requirement that intake staff-recorded observation of disability be confirmed and accompanied by other evidence. By waiving this requirement, Shalom House Inc. will house people by relying on intake staff-recorded observation of disability while providing recipients’ intake staff with additional time to confirm the disability. This will help households with observed disabilities to be housed quickly and obtain the necessary documentation once healthcare workers are no longer inundated by COVID-19 responses. For the purposes of individuals and families housed in the Shelter Plus Care program starting March 31, 2020 until public health officials determine no additional special measures are necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19, a written certification by the individual seeking assistance that they have a qualifying disability is considered acceptable documentation.
One-Year Lease Requirement
Shalom House Inc. will waive the one-year lease requirement until October 1, 2020, so long as the initial lease term of all leases is for more than one month. Waiving the one-year lease requirement for the Shelter Plus Care program will allow recipients to more quickly identify permanent housing for individuals and families experiencing homelessness, which is helpful in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Shalom House will be waiving the one-year lease requirement required for new move-ins and unit transfers as long as an initial lease with a term greater than one month is provided. In these cases, a month-to-month agreement would not suffice as the initial lease term must be greater than one month and one day.