Posts

Ask HUD’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU)

Welcome to “Ask HUD’s OSDBU”, a new blog series hosted by HUD’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU), where frequently asked questions are posted with informative responses.  The goal in this blog is to provide information small businesses can use to effectively pursue federal contracting opportunities.

What is the OSDBU?  In 1978 Congress passed P.L. 95-507 which required every federal contracting agency to create an office of small and disadvantaged business utilization to develop, implement, and manage small business utilization programs, policies and procedures.

What does the office do?  HUD’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) is responsible for ensuring that small businesses including veteran-owned, service-disabled veteran-owned, HUBZone, small disadvantaged, and women-owned small business concerns are treated fairly and have an opportunity to compete and be selected for a fair amount of HUD’s prime contracting and subcontracting opportunities.

HUD’s OSDBU conducts acquisition reviews and monitors HUD’s Small Business Goal and Achievement (both Prime and Subcontracting); provides internal and external training for acquisition professionals, program offices/managers, and the small and large business communities. Additionally, OSDBU responds to external inquiries from Congress, as well as the Government Accountability Office, Small Business Administration, OSDBU Council, Federal Acquisition Council, Office of the National Ombudsman; and conducts outreach and represents the Department at industry events.

Where to start contracting with HUD?  The OSDBU’s advice to small businesses interested in federal procurement is very simple: do your homework, list your certifications and credentials, establish relationships and be patient.

Homework: Before coming to HUD, visit www.hud.gov to research the agency and the program office in which you have an interest to understand the Department’s and program office’s mission, objectives and procurement needs. Make sure HUD procures what you are selling. Review Fedbizopps.gov and HUD’s Forecast of Contracting Opportunities on www.hud.gov/smallbusiness  to gain an understanding of procurement opportunities.

Certifications and Credentials: List your certifications such as 8(a), small disadvantaged business and HUBZone certifications on your business cards and capability statements. Your one-page capability statement should specifically indicate your firm’s credentials to compete for the procurement.

Relationships: Establish a relationship with the OSDBU and program office staff.  Make an appointment with the OSDBU to introduce your company and its capabilities.  Arrange marketing visits with program office staff to discuss contracting opportunities for which you are qualified.  Attend one of HUD’s Vendor Outreach Sessions.  In this high-tech world, it is still a personal touch that will win you your contract!

Patience: Finally, be patient and establish yourself.

 

Your comments and questions will help shape future blog posts.  Our goal is to provide you with informational resources about maximizing federal contracting opportunities for small businesses from which all can learn and benefit.

 

Ask HUD’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU)
Ask HUD’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU)

Mortgage Rates Sideways to Slightly Higher Despite Stock Rout

Mortgage rates were just barely higher in many cases today, although underlying bond markets recovered enough ground by the afternoon to suggest Monday’s rates will recoup those losses. The only catch is that other factors can have an effect on bonds between now and then. If bond markets are weaker by Monday morning, this afternoon’s strength will be overshadowed. Bottom line here: rates will start Monday with a very slight advantage “all things being equal.” Incidentally, the reason we don’t see this advantage today is that the bond market gains were small enough and happened late enough in the day that mortgage lenders didn’t update their rate sheets. The source of inspiration for the aforementioned bond market strength was a much bigger move in stocks. The latter are generally freaking out
Mortgage Rates Sideways to Slightly Higher Despite Stock Rout
Mortgage Rates Sideways to Slightly Higher Despite Stock Rout

Rental Assistance Demonstration in Cleveland: Bohn Tower

Mr. Brown shares about his experience being part of the renovation project while living as a tenant in the building.

When the 22-story high rise that he calls home went through a Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) conversion, resident Charles Brown decided to take an active role in the transformation.  “When you’re living in a building you care so much about and you get to be part of the process, it makes you feel outstanding,” he said.  Click here to hear more about this model transition and for the list of top recommendations for success based on the solid working relationship between the affordable housing property’s owners and its residents.

Read more>>

Rental Assistance Demonstration in Cleveland: Bohn Tower
Rental Assistance Demonstration in Cleveland: Bohn Tower

Be Careful With News on Mortgage Rates Today

It’s Thursday, which means Freddie Mac released its weekly update on mortgage rates . This is typically not that big of a deal because mortgage rates don’t tend to move enough in the short term to expose the shortfalls of Freddie’s methodology. To be perfectly fair to Freddie, their methodology is fine for those who want a once-a-week look at rates and who aren’t currently in the process of shopping for a mortgage or home. Unfortunately , much of the consumer-level interest in mortgage rate news comes from those who are in the process of shopping from a mortgage or home! Granted, they’re not seeking out Freddie’s rate survey, but they do tend to come across internet news that cites Freddie’s data as a source. Enter the pitfalls. Freddie’s survey deadline is Wednesday for any given week and
Be Careful With News on Mortgage Rates Today
Be Careful With News on Mortgage Rates Today

Rental Assistance Demonstration in San Francisco: Holly Courts

“We’re glad to be home; it’s beautiful.”  Deborah Gibson and Herman Travis have been residents for 13 years at Holly Courts, the first public housing project built in San Francisco. Their unit was one of 118 that went through a Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) conversion that allowed the housing authority to invest in everything from new floors and kitchen appliances to increased lighting that transformed the units into light and airy spaces. Click here to see their newly renovated home and to hear more of their story.

Read more about Holly Courts.

Rental Assistance Demonstration in San Francisco: Holly Courts
Rental Assistance Demonstration in San Francisco: Holly Courts

Mortgage Rates Avoid More Dire Outcomes After Inflation Report

Mortgage rates caught a break yesterday by moving lower for the first time this week. They arguably caught a break again today by not moving any higher than they did. Underlying bond markets (which drive mortgage rate changes) were rocked this morning by stronger inflation data. The important Consumer Price Index (CPI) was expected to hold steady at the same low levels that have persisted since the middle of 2017. The modest uptick in inflation sent bond yields higher and resulted in most mortgage lenders putting out noticeably higher rates this morning. Lenders don’t like to put out more than one rate sheet per day if they can help it, but if markets move enough, they will “reprice.” After the initial trauma, bond markets began a trend of improvement that ultimately resulted in widespread
Mortgage Rates Avoid More Dire Outcomes After Inflation Report
Mortgage Rates Avoid More Dire Outcomes After Inflation Report

Puerto Rico’s Public Housing Director on Surviving the Storm and Planning for the Next One

Photo: HUD’s Antonio Córdova surrounded by PIH staff in Puerto Rico.

On his birthday, Sept 5, Antonio Córdova says the devastation that was coming to Puerto Rico started rolling in. That is the day Hurricane Irma touched the U.S. Virgin Islands first, then landed in Puerto Rico the next day. It was the beginning of the worst hurricane season in modern history to hit the Caribbean. Then, on September 20, Hurricane Maria hit the island of Puerto Rico.

“We got hit by two category 5 hurricanes in the span of two weeks,” Cordova said. “What we saw with Irma and Maria, I’ve never seen before. It was a total collapse of infrastructure.”

Córdova is HUD’s public housing director, based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. His office is responsible for overseeing public housing and Housing Choice Vouchers for 90,000 households, or about 200,000 individuals.

Córdova lives in San Juan, near the water, so he evacuated to stay at a family’s home farther inland. With his wife and their two dogs, they took with them provisions for a few days, like most families.

Also like most families, their evacuation home and the home they evacuated weathered the storm with some damage but not complete collapse. Many homes on the island are cinder block or concrete. As a direct result of the storm most families, including his own, experienced heavy flooding, wind damage to roofs, deforestation, and some serious damage to buildings not built to code.

After the storm passed, however, the bigger problems came. That was when the collapse of utilities services came, he said. Families quickly ran out of provisions and had to go in search for any open store, restaurant or community place for food and water. It was not easy.

“There was no power, no telecommunications, no water. One hundred percent of the island was not able to communicate. Not having power and water are bad. But the uncertainty, the anxiety of not knowing what is going on because you can’t communicate for weeks, the unknown about family, friends and the people that we serve, that was the worst.”

Córdova’s brother in Florida was the one who confirmed to him after a week that his mother in a different part of Puerto Rico was ok. It took him about two days to reach the HUD field office. He had to navigate fallen power posts, downed trees, and debris. Soon, other HUD staff started showing up. Their first steps were to assess the situation of HUD staff, and the families they serve.

Families were displaced, had no food, no water, no phones, no TV, no cable, no internet, no texts, and at night everything was pitch black, so he says there were major safety concerns. In the early days, when the Field Office was administratively closed, staff that came to volunteer with response efforts were encouraged to leave by 2 pm so they could be home before nightfall.  An AM radio station was the only source of information.

Running on adrenaline, HUD staff collaborated with FEMA, HHS, Puerto Rico officials, armed forces and many others to direct families to FEMA assistance first, and about 1 million people ultimately registered for FEMA assistance, Córdova said. At one point 12,000 people were in shelters across the island, Córdova said.

“The first thing you’d do when you saw someone was hug, ask how their home was, how their family was, cry if you needed to,” Córdova said. And then they’d get to work.

Most people in public housing sheltered in place, since the buildings are made of concrete, he said. But after the storm staff had to focus on what critical deficiencies public housing complexes faced, such as not having power for patients on dialysis. The crew worked with the Puerto Rico Department of Housing and Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) to assess how many public housing units and Section 8 housing units had been damaged by the storm, and how many were still livable. They then matched those with the families who had been displaced. Staff also quickly worked to assist families leaving the island of Puerto Rico to port their vouchers to cities stateside, currently at nearly 360 families.

Airdrops were used to deliver thousands of meals to families, and millions of gallons of water. Of the roughly 31,000 Section 8 vouchers Córdova’s team manages, at peak numbers about 380 families were displaced. Staff worked with local PHAs to assist in issuing relocation vouchers for families to find new housing. The Puerto Rico Public Housing administration also had approximately 1,000 public housing units available to house displaced families.

By mid-October, HUD sent more staff from headquarters to help manage the recovery. Today, about half of the island is still without power, and that recovery continues.

Córdova and his staff are now focused on the next step. He says some of the worst impacts felt by families came from lack of power, water, and telecommunications. Córdova said this signals it’s time to look at new and different ways of developing housing and leveraging funds to include not only building units, but also utilities infrastructure. Solutions might include Low Income Housing Tax Credits, Rental Assistance Demonstration projects, Choice Neighborhoods, mixed-use developments and Community Development Block Grants – Disaster Recovery funds.

“I always tell people our first name is Housing and our last name is Urban Development.” Córdova said. “How do we approach these two parts of our name on this island – and other jurisdictions – how do we rethink, bring together all those different tools, become resilient for the future.”

Puerto Rico’s Public Housing Director on Surviving the Storm and Planning for the Next One
Puerto Rico’s Public Housing Director on Surviving the Storm and Planning for the Next One

Rental Assistance Demonstration in Maine: A Loring House Story

Photo: Loring House resident Susan Maloney (far right) sits with our team to share her experience as a tenant during a RAD conversion.

As with many New England buildings, Loring House has a fascinating history. Established in the early 1800s on Portland Street by the City of Portland, it began as an Alms House to serve the needs of the city’s poor, elderly, and mentally disabled. Later in 1870, it was converted into a hospital known as the “Greely Hospital” for the city’s low-income population.

Between 1902 and 1904, Greely Hospital moved from its original location on Portland Street and into the new, industrial building that is Loring House today. In the early 1980’s, the growing hospital moved again into a new facility, and Loring House eventually evolved into a housing community for people living with disabilities and 62+ years of age. Today, it has finally received the renovation deserved by tenants through a RAD conversion project.

Read more about the Loring House.

Rental Assistance Demonstration in Maine: A Loring House Story
Rental Assistance Demonstration in Maine: A Loring House Story

HUD Shows Some “Brotherly Love” to Disaster Survivors

Photo: HUD Regional Senior Advisor Elvis Solivan helps displaced families at the Philadelphia Disaster Assistance Services Center.

The “City of Brotherly Love” is welcoming hundreds of Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Island residents displaced by Hurricane Maria. HUD staff are working shoulder-to-shoulder with the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Emergency Management at the Philadelphia Disaster Assistance Services Center where more than 800 evacuees have visited since its opening in mid-October.   

“It all came together rather quickly after touring the center and seeing the need,” said Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Joe DeFelice. “While my office is providing on-site support, program directors are meeting with me weekly to brainstorm on ways to assist the city.”

The center is a multi-agency effort, staffed with personnel from a variety of state and local agencies. One of the primary goals is to register those who were not able to apply for FEMA’s disaster assistance programs before arriving in Philly.

“I volunteered to represent HUD at the center,” said Elvis Solivan, DeFelice’s senior advisor. “I’m making a difference by being in the right place at the right time by fulfilling the critical need for subject matter experts fluent in Spanish.”

Nika Edwards is a Public Affairs Officer in HUD’s Philadelphia Regional Office. 

HUD Shows Some “Brotherly Love” to Disaster Survivors
HUD Shows Some “Brotherly Love” to Disaster Survivors

A Day in the Life: Atlanta Homeownership Center

 

Welcome to another edition of our series, A Day in the Life, which will introduce you to HUD employees and highlight the important work they do.

Today we meet Ruth Trembley, a Management Analyst in the Atlanta Regional office.

What is the overarching task of your position? 

In my position, I perform quality control reviews of our nonprofit programs and education and outreach funds. I’m responsible for processing the requests for use of education and outreach funds.

What is your typical day like?  

I’m not sure I ever have a typical day. Depending on what’s the current need from our Directors, it may be to check on the status of a property or special request from headquarters. Now, I spend a great deal of my time training and mentoring our Program Support staff. I was given the privilege of participating in the Phased Retirement program. We have a small staff and the work I complete is different from anyone else in the division. This allows me time to share my knowledge of Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and all my different work assignments.

How long have you been in your current role? 

My career started at HUD in October 1986 as an Endorsement Clerk. In my current role, I have weathered all the changes from 1998 when the Atlanta Homeownership Center was first created. My position titles have changed and sometimes work processes but I embrace the challenges and the changes.

Most exciting part of your job? 

I really enjoy speaking at training events for industry professionals and the public about FHA. Currently, I’m part of the Employee Engagement Committee and enjoy sharing and commenting on ideas for employee engagement.

Most challenging part of your job?   

It’s researching of nonprofits who may be using FHA improperly and keeping up with the various changes here in Program Support.

Where did you work prior to your position at HUD?

I worked at the Safety Office in Fort Bragg, NC processing Occupational Safety and Health Administration violations and providing daily reports on the heat stress index for soldiers completing physical training.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check back next month for a new edition of A Day in the Life!

Joe Phillips is a Public Affairs Officer in HUD’s Atlanta Regional office.

A Day in the Life: Atlanta Homeownership Center
A Day in the Life: Atlanta Homeownership Center