The Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA) released drafts of the PY 2020 HWAP State Plan and the HEAP Transfer Request to the Department of Health and Human Services on Friday, March 6th. ODSA deserves kudos for getting these materials out two weeks before the scheduled Policy Advisory Council meeting and nineteen days before the scheduled public hearing.  The Agency also is to be commended for acknowledging and addressing issues raised during the multiple listening sessions held at Weatherize Ohio and other forums. Please note that both the HWAP-PAC and the public hearing will be delayed.

The first three pages of the document include the issues raised by the network and a summary of changes made in the draft HWAP State Plan. The draft plan remains subject to change based on comments received at the PAC and the hearing. An ad hoc committee of the PAC will be reviewing and discussing these changes prior to the PAC. OPAE will keep you informed on the substance of these discussions.

Following is a summary:

  • Priority List – ODSA intends to continue to require agencies to serve the first 25% of customers on the priority list, but will permit them to be served at any time during the program year.
  • County Minimums – No change.
  • No Heat – The HEAP Enhancement funds will be available to supplement funding available from leveraged resources.
  • Priority List – Ohio will continue to use NEAT or MHEA for all single-family and multifamily homes with less than 4 apartments.
  • Fuel Cost – ODSA issued a statewide fuel cost for use with the audit software in January.
  • Multifamily Units – ODSA is choosing not to allocate the staff time to approve a multifamily tool, so the 20% statewide cap will remain in place. However, ODSA has agreed to permit individual agencies to exceed 20% through a waiver process, so long as on a statewide basis we stay below that level. This should work for now, given that most agencies use utility funds for multifamily units.
  • Administrative and Operating Funds –  ODSA agreed to provide guidance to the agencies on what must be billed to the administrative category and what are expenses should be classified as operating funds.
  • Landlord Contributions for Multifamily Units – Two- to four-unit buildings will not require a landlord contribution. The rules for larger multifamily buildings remain the same.
  • HUD List – This issue is beyond the control of ODSA. OPAE is seeking to resolve this issue legislatively.
  • Leveraging Funds for Community Programs – ODSA is reviewing proposals submitted. OPAE has submitted a proposal to fund a coordinator for a neighborhood project in Toledo.
  • ACSI Feedback & Action Plan – ODSA will continue listening sessions and work with stakeholders on other administrative items, including better coordination with other programs managed with the State such as the Community Housing Impact Program (CHIP).
  • Box 14 – As ODSA transitions to the new database, it will work to develop an approach to highlight potential weatherization clients.
  • Risk Assessment – The tool is not part of the State Plan, but ODSA will be requesting feedback on what aspects should be updated.
  • Weatherize Ohio – ODSA will again provide $25,000 to support the Conference.

HEAP Weatherization funding exceeds the amount available from DOE for HWAP. ODSA has traditionally transferred 15% of HEAP to HWAP. It proposes to continue to make this transfer, treating the 15% like it was DOE funding. The waiver request deals only with HEAP Enhancement, the additional 5%. (An additional 5% transfer will occur In FY 2021, the total HEAP transfer will increase from 20% to 25%; it is not known how that program will be structured.) The Enhancement funds will continue to focus on deferred homes and those that would be deferred.

ODSA has indicated a willingness to add minor plumbing repairs and pest abatement to the measures permitted under Enhancement and will be seeking additional recommendations from the PAC and through the public hearing process.

ODSA has addressed all of the recommendations OPAE has heard coming from the network. In many cases, ODSA has agreed to and is making modifications. Others are still being considered. And, some have been rejected. This represents a sea change in how the agencies and ODSA interact when developing the HWAP State Plan and the HEAP Waiver request. A better program will be the result.

OPAE will be working through the PAC and the ad hoc subcommittee to develop recommendations going forward.