Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program, 41523-41526 [2017-18574]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 169 / Friday, September 1, 2017 / Rules and Regulations (3) To request permission to enter the safety zone, contact the COTP or the COTP’s representative on VHF–FM channel 16. All persons and vessels in the safety zone must comply with all lawful orders or directions given to them by the COTP or the COTP’s designated representative. (d) Enforcement period: This section will be enforced on September 3, 2017, September 10, 2017, and September 13, 2017 from 7:45 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. each day. Dated: August 29, 2017. Scott E. Anderson, Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, Captain of the Port, Delaware Bay. [FR Doc. 2017–18617 Filed 8–31–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110–04–P DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS 38 CFR Part 62 RIN 2900–AP61 Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program Department of Veterans Affairs. Final rule. AGENCY: ACTION: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is amending its regulations that govern the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) Program. This rulemaking clarifies VA’s procedures for continuing to fund SSVF Program services in communities that have lost grants due to the non-renewal or termination of services of an existing award to a grantee. VA can now award the non-renewed or deobligated funds to other existing SSVF grantees in or near the affected community. This award of non-renewed or deobligated funds prevents potential access issues associated with grant termination. This rulemaking also reduces the number of satisfaction surveys grantees are required to provide to participants in order to reduce the burden on grantees and participants. DATES: This final rule is effective October 2, 2017. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John Kuhn, National Center for Homelessness Among Veterans, Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program Office, 4100 Chester Avenue, Suite 200, Philadelphia, PA 19104, (877) 737– 0111. (This is a toll-free number) John.Kuhn2@va.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In a document published in the Federal Register on July 27, 2016, VA proposed to revise its regulations that addressed sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Aug 31, 2017 Jkt 241001 the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) Program. 81 FR 49198. VA provided a 60-day comment period, which ended on September 26, 2016. We received 14 comments on the proposed rule. Section 2044 of title 38 U.S.C. requires the Secretary to provide financial assistance to eligible entities to provide and coordinate the provision of supportive services for very low-income veteran families occupying permanent housing. The Secretary’s implementing regulations are in 38 CFR part 62, which established the SSVF Program. Through the SSVF Program, VA awards supportive services grants to private non-profit organizations or consumer cooperatives to provide or coordinate the provision of supportive services to very low-income veteran families who are residing in permanent housing and at risk of becoming homeless. The grants provide services to low-income families who are lacking a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, are at risk of remaining so but for grantee assistance, and scheduled to become residents of permanent housing within 90 days pending the location or development of housing suitable for permanent housing. The grants also provide services to low-income families who, after exiting permanent housing, are seeking other housing that is responsive to their needs and preferences. This rulemaking clarifies existing VA policy regarding award of non-renewed or deobligated funds to other existing SSVF grantees in or near the affected community where the funds were originally used in order to maintain continuity in the services offered to these communities. This rulemaking also reduces the number of satisfaction surveys grantees are required to provide to participants in order to reduce the burden on grantees and participants. We received several comments in support of the proposed rule. One commenter stated that the proposed rule was ‘‘needed from multiple perspectives, most importantly, in maintaining all momentum toward ending Veteran homelessness.’’ A commenter stated that ‘‘non-renewed and deobligated funds are critical to our community as we are seeing a strong inflow of newly homeless in our area.’’ Another commenter stated that the proposed rule would eliminate the ‘‘hoops to jump through and the grant will still be awarded to those who qualify.’’ A commenter agreed that reducing the number of surveys would yield a higher response rate. Lastly, a commenter stated that the proposed changes ‘‘are reasonable and would PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 41523 make an effective program more so.’’ We thank the commenters for supporting the rule. One commenter recommended that VA revise the proposed rule to ‘‘take into account the impact of unexpected need, such as occurs in natural disasters where Federal Disaster Area designation is affirmed.’’ The commenter further recommended that VA distribute SSVF grant assistance to grantees serving in Federal disaster areas to assist veterans in need or who are displaced from their homes or become homeless ‘‘due to a natural disaster, regardless of whether the Veteran family meets the income eligibility requirements of SSVF.’’ Additionally, VA should focus the availability of SSVF funds to those veterans who were impacted by a natural disaster and do not have sufficient resources to relocate to ‘‘new housing because of trauma, an inability to access records, and/or an inability to access personal resources.’’ As previously stated in this rulemaking 38 U.S.C. 2044 is the authority that establishes the SSVF program. Under this program, VA may only provide assistance to very low-income veteran families. Section 2044(f)(6) defines ‘‘very low-income veteran family’’ to mean ‘‘a veteran family whose income does not exceed 50 percent of the median income for an area’’ as determined by VA. Because the SSVF funds are limited, VA cannot use these funds to assist veteran families that do not otherwise meet the eligibility criteria under section 2044. Also, the loss of SSVF funds would adversely affect the veterans being served in the community whose deobligated funds were lost due to the funds being transferred to a different community that was affected by a natural disaster. We are not making any edits based on this comment. Several commenters suggested that VA reconsider the requirement that 60% of funding support rapid re-housing of homeless veterans and 40% may be used for prevention of homelessness in rural communities and instead allow an even 50/50 split of funding because the needs for homeless veteran families in rural communities differ from those in urban settings. The commenters further stated that there is a housing shortage and it is difficult to use all of the SSVF funds, ‘‘particularly when Veterans who are in danger of literal homelessness present to our program and we are unable to assist them due to the 60/40 mandate. If that mandate was to be lifted, and we could focus a larger pool of resources on prevention, fewer of our clients would cycle back through as RRH.’’ Under section 2044(a)(4), SSVF E:\FR\FM\01SER1.SGM 01SER1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with RULES 41524 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 169 / Friday, September 1, 2017 / Rules and Regulations has an obligation to give preference to ‘‘entities providing or coordinating the provision of supportive services for very low-income veteran families who are transitioning from homelessness to permanent housing.’’ The 60/40 requirement in the current Notice of Fund Availability (NOFA) means that a minimum of 60% of SSVF funds can be used for supporting rapid re-housing of homeless veterans and a maximum of 40% of SSVF funds can be used for prevention. Where the local needs of homeless veterans have been met, the NOFA has a process in place so communities can ask for a waiver of the 60/40 split of temporary financial assistance. (See December 7, 2016 NOFA, section V.B.3(a): ‘‘Waivers to this 60 percent requirement may be requested when grantees can demonstrate significant local progress towards eliminating homelessness in the target service area. Waiver requests must include data from authoritative sources such as USICH certification that a community has ended homelessness as defined by Federal Benchmarks and Criteria or have reached Community Solution’s Functional Zero. Waivers for the 60 percent requirement may also be requested for services provided to rural Indian tribal areas and other rural areas where shelter capacity is insufficient to meet local need. Waiver requests must include an endorsement by the impacted CoC explicitly stating that a shift in resources from rapid rehousing to prevention will not result in an increase in homelessness.’’). The waiver would allow for an increased spending on prevention. However, any amendment to this requirement is beyond the scope of the proposed rule. We are not making any edits based on this comment. A commenter suggested that VA allow SSVF grantees to use funds to assist veterans who have been rated by VA as 100% service-connected disabled, are homeless, and over the income limit for the SSVF, because these veterans would benefit from the ‘‘intensive case management services to navigate through their housing issues.’’ SSVF funds may only be used to assist veteran families that meet the eligibility criteria in 38 U.S.C. 2044. By law, VA cannot use SSVF funds to assist veterans that are over the income limits of 38 U.S.C. 2044(f). However, homeless veterans who do not qualify for the SSVF program may receive assistance under the VA homeless providers grant and per diem program, part 61 of 38 CFR. This comment is beyond the scope of the proposed rule and we are not VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Aug 31, 2017 Jkt 241001 making any edits based on this comment. Several commenters suggested that VA use SSVF funds to include aftercare case management, which would ‘‘be classified as continuing case management after the veteran is housed and/or case management after the veteran is exited from SSVF services.’’ SSVF is designed to resolve a veteran’s household’s housing crisis. Grantees make the decision when to exit a veteran’s household from the SSVF program based on the household’s ability to achieve housing stability. Longer term supports and case management are outside of the scope of SSVF program and grantees need to link participants to other VA resources that address veteran homelessness or to community health care and social services. Amendments to SSVF services are beyond the scope of the proposed rule. We are not making any edits based on this comment. A commenter stated that the SSVF program guidelines can create barriers to providing services ‘‘due to the strict documentation requirements and extensive intake process.’’ The commenter recommended that VA allow concessions and latitude to case managers so that the lack of documentation provided by a veteran does not become an exclusionary factor to receive SSVF assistance. SSVF allows for a variety of substitutes for documentation requirements, including, at times, self-certification. However, VA has a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that those enrolled in services are eligible and grantees adequately document the services provided. This comment is beyond the scope of the proposed rule and we are not making any edits based on this comment. Another commenter indicated that it would be helpful if the rule included a ‘‘basic overview of the scoring criteria used in making decisions’’ for granting SSVF funds. The scoring criteria for supportive services grant applicants is found in 38 CFR 62.22, which we did not propose to amend in the proposed rule. Additionally, the scoring criteria for grantees applying for renewal of supportive services grants is found in 38 CFR 62.24, which we also did not propose to amend in the proposed rule. We are not making any edits based on this comment. One commenter stated that reducing the number of satisfaction surveys would not yield a higher response rate. We respectfully disagree with the commenter and believe that reducing the number of satisfaction surveys might prompt participants of the SSVF to provide feedback of their experience PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 with the program upon completion of the program. We are not making any edits based on this comment. One commenter stated that proposed 38 CFR 62.36 should be further amended to state that ‘‘there should be a mail in option for Veterans who do not have access to email or internet.’’ Another commenter stated that older veterans did not want to create an email account for submitting the satisfaction surveys. VA is aware that not all veterans are able to submit the survey electronically and is also aware of the limitation of electronic submissions for the survey. For this reason, we have added a phone-based survey option for fiscal year 2017. We are not making any edits based on this comment. A commenter stated that limiting the SSVF grant to ‘‘a 10% base admin rate is creating large deficits to the nonprofits and sub-grantees who implement the program.’’ The commenter suggested that VA allow the use of ‘‘a non-profit’s allowable federal rate (typically around 15%) as a standard for both the grantee and sub-grantees.’’ The commenter also stated that some sub-grantees have abandoned the SSVF grant due to losses the non-profits bear in administering the SSVF program. The limitations on costs for the administration of the SSVF program are stated in 38 CFR 62.10 and 62.70, which we did not propose to amend in the proposed rule. Any change to the limitations on administrative costs is beyond the scope of the proposed rule. We are not making any edits based on this comment. A commenter said that limiting a veteran household to a single option of moving or storage expenses is counterintuitive because stored items will need to be moved from the storage facility to the new domicile once the domicile becomes available. The commenter asks ‘‘that these two costs be allowed as separate eligible expenses for each veteran household (as needed).’’ Veterans may receive both types of assistance under the current regulation. Section 62.34 addresses other supportive services, which includes moving costs under paragraph (d). Paragraph (d)(2) states that moving costs assistance includes ‘‘reasonable moving costs, such as truck rental, hiring a moving company, or short-term storage fees for a maximum of 3 months or until the participant is in permanent housing, whichever is shorter.’’ The storage of household items and the transportation of these items to the new domicile are two separate services that are included as part of the moving costs. Also, we did not propose to amend section 62.34 in the proposed rule and so any changes to this section are beyond the scope of the E:\FR\FM\01SER1.SGM 01SER1 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 169 / Friday, September 1, 2017 / Rules and Regulations proposed rule. We make no edits based on this comment. A commenter said that the SSVF no longer covers the payment of property debt, which includes arrears and damages. However, that is incorrect: 38 CFR 62.34(a)(1) states, ‘‘rental assistance may be for rental payments that are currently due or are in arrears, and for the payment of penalties or fees incurred by a participant and required to be paid by the participant under an existing lease or court order.’’ Also, we did not propose to amend section 62.34 in the proposed rule and so any edits to this section are beyond the scope of the proposed rule. We are not making any edits based on this comment. A commenter supported the rule, but stated that ‘‘if this assessment and reallocation of funding occurs in real time (i.e., quarterly benchmarks during the grant year) this creates a new burden on the grantees by not giving the necessary flexibility to spend appropriately based on each veteran household’s needs or the seasonal enrollment spikes that occur throughout the grant year.’’ VA has the capacity to sweep funds on a quarterly basis as stated in the grant agreement between VA and the grantee. Prior to any sweep, VA would review the funds with the grantee to assess the needs of the community. We are not making any edits based on this comment. We are making a technical edit to 38 CFR 62.25. Proposed paragraph (d)(1) stated in part that ‘‘Such applicant or grantee must have the capacity and agree to provide immediate services to the affected community.’’ We are amending this sentence by deleting the term ‘‘immediate’’ and replacing it with ‘‘prompt’’ to make this term consistent with language used in existing program materials. We are making a similar edit to 38 CFR 62.80(d)(2)(i). We are also clarifying in § 62.25(d)(1) and § 62.80(d)(2)(i) that the grantee in the last sentence of each paragraph is the grantee who is offered the additional funds. The sentence as it was written in the proposed rule left some ambiguity as to who we were referencing. We are not making any edits to the meaning of the language in the proposed rule. Based on the rationale set forth in the Supplementary Information to the proposed rule and in this final rule, VA is adopting the proposed rule with the edits discussed in the previous paragraph. Effect of Rulemaking Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as revised by this final rulemaking, represents VA’s implementation of its legal authority on VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Aug 31, 2017 Jkt 241001 this subject. Other than future amendments to this regulation or governing statutes, no contrary guidance or procedures are authorized. All existing or subsequent VA guidance must be read to conform with this rulemaking if possible or, if not possible, such guidance is superseded by this rulemaking. Paperwork Reduction Act This action contains provisions constituting collections of information, at 38 CFR 62.36, under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501– 3521). The information collection requirements for § 62.36 are currently approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and have been assigned OMB control number 2900– 0757. However, this regulatory action includes a provision reducing the number of surveys used for this collection from 2 to 1. VA estimates the number of responses for the information collection will decrease from 5,625 to 2,813. VA is in the process of recertifying this collection number under a separate action. Regulatory Flexibility Act The Secretary hereby certifies that this final rule does not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities as they are defined in the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601–612). This final rule only impacts those entities that choose to participate in the SSVF Program. Small entity applicants will not be affected to a greater extent than large entity applicants. Small entities must elect to participate, and it is considered a benefit to those who choose to apply. To the extent this final rule has any impact on small entities, it will not have an impact on a substantial number of small entities. Therefore, under 5 U.S.C. 605(b), this rulemaking is exempt from the initial and final regulatory flexibility analysis requirements of section 603 and 604. Executive Order 12866 and 13563 Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 direct agencies to assess the costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, when regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety effects, and other advantages; distributive impacts; and equity). Executive Order 13563 (Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review) emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and benefits, reducing costs, harmonizing rules, and PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 41525 promoting flexibility. Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review) defines a ‘‘significant regulatory action,’’ requiring review by OMB, unless OMB waives such review, as ‘‘any regulatory action that is likely to result in a rule that may: (1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or tribal governments or communities; (2) Create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency; (3) Materially alter the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients thereof; or (4) Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the President’s priorities, or the principles set forth in this Executive Order.’’ The economic, interagency, budgetary, legal, and policy implications of this regulatory action have been examined, and it has been determined not to be a significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866. VA’s impact analysis can be found as a supporting document at http://www.regulations.gov, usually within 48 hours after the rulemaking document is published. Additionally, a copy of the rulemaking and its impact analysis are available on VA’s Web site at http://www.va.gov/orpm/, by following the link for ‘‘VA Regulations Published From FY 2004 Through Fiscal Year to Date.’’ Unfunded Mandates The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 requires, at 2 U.S.C. 1532, that agencies prepare an assessment of anticipated costs and benefits before issuing any rule that may result in the expenditure by State, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 million or more (adjusted annually for inflation) in any one year. This final rule will have no such effect on State, local, and tribal governments, or on the private sector. Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Program The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance numbers and titles for the programs affected by this document are 64.009, Veterans Medical Care Benefits, and 64.033, VA Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program. Signing Authority The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, or designee, approved this document and E:\FR\FM\01SER1.SGM 01SER1 41526 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 169 / Friday, September 1, 2017 / Rules and Regulations authorized the undersigned to sign and submit the document to the Office of the Federal Register for publication electronically as an official document of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Gina S. Farrisee, Deputy Chief of Staff, Department of Veterans Affairs, approved this document on August 28, 2017, for publication. List of Subjects in 38 CFR Part 62 Administrative practice and procedure, Day care, Disability benefits, Government contracts, Grant programs—health, Grant programs— housing and community development, Grant programs—veterans, Heath care, Homeless, Housing, Indian—lands, Individuals with disabilities, Low and moderate income housing, Manpower training program, Medicare, Medicaid, Public assistance programs, Public housing, Relocation assistance, Rent subsidies, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Rural areas, Social security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Travel and transportation expenses, Unemployment compensation. Dated: August 29, 2017. Janet Coleman, Chief, Office of Regulation Policy & Management, Office of the Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs. For the reasons stated in the preamble, the Department of Veterans Affairs is amending 38 CFR part 62 as follows: 1. The authority citation for part 62 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501, 2044, and as noted in specific sections. 2. Amend § 62.25 by adding paragraph (d) to read as follows: ■ § 62.25 Selecting grantees for renewal of supportive services grants. sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with RULES * * * * (d) At its discretion, VA may award any non-renewed funds to an applicant or existing grantee. If VA chooses to award non-renewed funds to an applicant or existing grantee, funds will be awarded as follows: (1) VA will first offer to award the non-renewed funds to the applicant or grantee with the highest grant score under the relevant Notice of Fund Availability that applies for, or is awarded a renewal grant in, the same community as, or a proximate community to, the affected community. Such applicant or grantee must have the capacity and agree to provide prompt VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:20 Aug 31, 2017 Jkt 241001 § 62.36 General operation requirements. * * * * * (c) * * * (2) The grantee must provide each participant with a satisfaction survey, which the participant can submit directly to VA, within 30 days of such participant’s pending exit from the grantee’s program. * * * * * ■ 4. Amend § 62.80 by revising paragraph (d)(2) to read as follows: § 62.80 Withholding, suspension, deobligation, termination, and recovery of funds by VA. PART 62—SUPPORTIVE SERVICES FOR VETERAN FAMILIES PROGRAM * services to the affected community. Under this § 62.25, the relevant Notice of Fund Availability is the most recently published Notice of Fund Availability which covers the geographic area that includes the affected community, or for multi-year grant awards, the Notice of Fund Availability for which the grantee, who is offered the additional funds, received the multi-year award. (2) If the first such applicant or grantee offered the non-renewed funds refuses the funds, VA will offer to award the funds to the next highest-ranked such applicant or grantee, per the criteria in paragraph (d)(1) of this section, and continue on in rank order until the non-renewed funds are awarded. * * * * * ■ 3. Amend § 62.36 by revising paragraph (c)(2) to read as follows: * * * * * (d) * * * (2) At its discretion, VA may readvertise in a Notice of Fund Availability the availability of funds that have been deobligated under this section or award deobligated funds to an applicant or existing grantee. If VA chooses to award deobligated funds to an applicant or existing grantee, funds will be awarded as follows: (i) VA will first offer to award the deobligated funds to the applicant or grantee with the highest grant score under the relevant Notice of Fund Availability that applied for or was awarded funds in the same community as, or proximate community to, the affected community. Such applicant or grantee must have the capacity and agree to provide prompt services to the affected community. Under this section the relevant Notice of Fund Availability is the most recently published Notice of Fund Availability which covers the geographic area that includes the affected community, or for multi-year grant awards, the most recently published Notice of Fund Availability PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 which covers the geographic area that includes the affected community for which the grantee, who is offered the additional funds, received the multiyear award. (ii) If the first such applicant or grantee offered the deobligated funds refuses the funds, VA will offer to award funds to the next highest-ranked such applicant or grantee, per to the criteria in paragraph (d)(2)(i) of this section, and continue on in rank order until all deobligated funds are awarded. * * * * * [FR Doc. 2017–18574 Filed 8–31–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 8320–01–P ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA–R01–OAR–2017–0025; FRL–9967–29– Region 1] Air Plan Approval; Rhode Island; Reasonably Available Control Technology for US Watercraft, LLC; Withdrawal of Direct Final Rule Environmental Protection Agency. ACTION: Withdrawal of direct final rule. AGENCY: Due to the receipt of an adverse comment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is withdrawing the July 3, 2017, direct final rule approving a State Implementation Plan (SIP) revision submitted by the State of Rhode Island. The revision consists of a reasonably available control technology (RACT) approval for a volatile organic compound (VOC) emission source in Rhode Island, specifically, US Watercraft, LLC. This action is being taken in accordance with the Clean Air Act. DATES: The direct final rule published on July 3, 2017 (82 FR 30747), is withdrawn effective September 1, 2017. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: David L. Mackintosh, Air Quality Planning Unit, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA New England Regional Office, 5 Post Office Square— Suite 100, (Mail Code OEP05–2), Boston, MA 02109–3912, tel. 617–918– 1584, email mackintosh.david@epa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In the direct final rule, EPA stated that if adverse comments were submitted by August 2, 2017, the rule would be withdrawn and not take effect. EPA received an adverse comment prior to the close of the comment period and, therefore, is withdrawing the direct final rule. EPA will address the comment in SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\01SER1.SGM 01SER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 169 (Friday, September 1, 2017)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 41523-41526]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-18574]


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DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

38 CFR Part 62

RIN 2900-AP61


Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program

AGENCY: Department of Veterans Affairs.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is amending its 
regulations that govern the Supportive Services for Veteran Families 
(SSVF) Program. This rulemaking clarifies VA's procedures for 
continuing to fund SSVF Program services in communities that have lost 
grants due to the non-renewal or termination of services of an existing 
award to a grantee. VA can now award the non-renewed or deobligated 
funds to other existing SSVF grantees in or near the affected 
community. This award of non-renewed or deobligated funds prevents 
potential access issues associated with grant termination. This 
rulemaking also reduces the number of satisfaction surveys grantees are 
required to provide to participants in order to reduce the burden on 
grantees and participants.

DATES: This final rule is effective October 2, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: John Kuhn, National Center for 
Homelessness Among Veterans, Supportive Services for Veteran Families 
Program Office, 4100 Chester Avenue, Suite 200, Philadelphia, PA 19104, 
(877) 737-0111. (This is a toll-free number) John.Kuhn2@va.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In a document published in the Federal 
Register on July 27, 2016, VA proposed to revise its regulations that 
addressed the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) Program. 
81 FR 49198. VA provided a 60-day comment period, which ended on 
September 26, 2016. We received 14 comments on the proposed rule. 
Section 2044 of title 38 U.S.C. requires the Secretary to provide 
financial assistance to eligible entities to provide and coordinate the 
provision of supportive services for very low-income veteran families 
occupying permanent housing. The Secretary's implementing regulations 
are in 38 CFR part 62, which established the SSVF Program. Through the 
SSVF Program, VA awards supportive services grants to private non-
profit organizations or consumer cooperatives to provide or coordinate 
the provision of supportive services to very low-income veteran 
families who are residing in permanent housing and at risk of becoming 
homeless. The grants provide services to low-income families who are 
lacking a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, are at risk 
of remaining so but for grantee assistance, and scheduled to become 
residents of permanent housing within 90 days pending the location or 
development of housing suitable for permanent housing. The grants also 
provide services to low-income families who, after exiting permanent 
housing, are seeking other housing that is responsive to their needs 
and preferences. This rulemaking clarifies existing VA policy regarding 
award of non-renewed or deobligated funds to other existing SSVF 
grantees in or near the affected community where the funds were 
originally used in order to maintain continuity in the services offered 
to these communities. This rulemaking also reduces the number of 
satisfaction surveys grantees are required to provide to participants 
in order to reduce the burden on grantees and participants.
    We received several comments in support of the proposed rule. One 
commenter stated that the proposed rule was ``needed from multiple 
perspectives, most importantly, in maintaining all momentum toward 
ending Veteran homelessness.'' A commenter stated that ``non-renewed 
and deobligated funds are critical to our community as we are seeing a 
strong inflow of newly homeless in our area.'' Another commenter stated 
that the proposed rule would eliminate the ``hoops to jump through and 
the grant will still be awarded to those who qualify.'' A commenter 
agreed that reducing the number of surveys would yield a higher 
response rate. Lastly, a commenter stated that the proposed changes 
``are reasonable and would make an effective program more so.'' We 
thank the commenters for supporting the rule.
    One commenter recommended that VA revise the proposed rule to 
``take into account the impact of unexpected need, such as occurs in 
natural disasters where Federal Disaster Area designation is 
affirmed.'' The commenter further recommended that VA distribute SSVF 
grant assistance to grantees serving in Federal disaster areas to 
assist veterans in need or who are displaced from their homes or become 
homeless ``due to a natural disaster, regardless of whether the Veteran 
family meets the income eligibility requirements of SSVF.'' 
Additionally, VA should focus the availability of SSVF funds to those 
veterans who were impacted by a natural disaster and do not have 
sufficient resources to relocate to ``new housing because of trauma, an 
inability to access records, and/or an inability to access personal 
resources.'' As previously stated in this rulemaking 38 U.S.C. 2044 is 
the authority that establishes the SSVF program. Under this program, VA 
may only provide assistance to very low-income veteran families. 
Section 2044(f)(6) defines ``very low-income veteran family'' to mean 
``a veteran family whose income does not exceed 50 percent of the 
median income for an area'' as determined by VA. Because the SSVF funds 
are limited, VA cannot use these funds to assist veteran families that 
do not otherwise meet the eligibility criteria under section 2044. 
Also, the loss of SSVF funds would adversely affect the veterans being 
served in the community whose deobligated funds were lost due to the 
funds being transferred to a different community that was affected by a 
natural disaster. We are not making any edits based on this comment.
    Several commenters suggested that VA reconsider the requirement 
that 60% of funding support rapid re-housing of homeless veterans and 
40% may be used for prevention of homelessness in rural communities and 
instead allow an even 50/50 split of funding because the needs for 
homeless veteran families in rural communities differ from those in 
urban settings. The commenters further stated that there is a housing 
shortage and it is difficult to use all of the SSVF funds, 
``particularly when Veterans who are in danger of literal homelessness 
present to our program and we are unable to assist them due to the 60/
40 mandate. If that mandate was to be lifted, and we could focus a 
larger pool of resources on prevention, fewer of our clients would 
cycle back through as RRH.'' Under section 2044(a)(4), SSVF

[[Page 41524]]

has an obligation to give preference to ``entities providing or 
coordinating the provision of supportive services for very low-income 
veteran families who are transitioning from homelessness to permanent 
housing.'' The 60/40 requirement in the current Notice of Fund 
Availability (NOFA) means that a minimum of 60% of SSVF funds can be 
used for supporting rapid re-housing of homeless veterans and a maximum 
of 40% of SSVF funds can be used for prevention. Where the local needs 
of homeless veterans have been met, the NOFA has a process in place so 
communities can ask for a waiver of the 60/40 split of temporary 
financial assistance. (See December 7, 2016 NOFA, section V.B.3(a): 
``Waivers to this 60 percent requirement may be requested when grantees 
can demonstrate significant local progress towards eliminating 
homelessness in the target service area. Waiver requests must include 
data from authoritative sources such as USICH certification that a 
community has ended homelessness as defined by Federal Benchmarks and 
Criteria or have reached Community Solution's Functional Zero. Waivers 
for the 60 percent requirement may also be requested for services 
provided to rural Indian tribal areas and other rural areas where 
shelter capacity is insufficient to meet local need. Waiver requests 
must include an endorsement by the impacted CoC explicitly stating that 
a shift in resources from rapid rehousing to prevention will not result 
in an increase in homelessness.''). The waiver would allow for an 
increased spending on prevention. However, any amendment to this 
requirement is beyond the scope of the proposed rule. We are not making 
any edits based on this comment.
    A commenter suggested that VA allow SSVF grantees to use funds to 
assist veterans who have been rated by VA as 100% service-connected 
disabled, are homeless, and over the income limit for the SSVF, because 
these veterans would benefit from the ``intensive case management 
services to navigate through their housing issues.'' SSVF funds may 
only be used to assist veteran families that meet the eligibility 
criteria in 38 U.S.C. 2044. By law, VA cannot use SSVF funds to assist 
veterans that are over the income limits of 38 U.S.C. 2044(f). However, 
homeless veterans who do not qualify for the SSVF program may receive 
assistance under the VA homeless providers grant and per diem program, 
part 61 of 38 CFR. This comment is beyond the scope of the proposed 
rule and we are not making any edits based on this comment.
    Several commenters suggested that VA use SSVF funds to include 
aftercare case management, which would ``be classified as continuing 
case management after the veteran is housed and/or case management 
after the veteran is exited from SSVF services.'' SSVF is designed to 
resolve a veteran's household's housing crisis. Grantees make the 
decision when to exit a veteran's household from the SSVF program based 
on the household's ability to achieve housing stability. Longer term 
supports and case management are outside of the scope of SSVF program 
and grantees need to link participants to other VA resources that 
address veteran homelessness or to community health care and social 
services. Amendments to SSVF services are beyond the scope of the 
proposed rule. We are not making any edits based on this comment.
    A commenter stated that the SSVF program guidelines can create 
barriers to providing services ``due to the strict documentation 
requirements and extensive intake process.'' The commenter recommended 
that VA allow concessions and latitude to case managers so that the 
lack of documentation provided by a veteran does not become an 
exclusionary factor to receive SSVF assistance. SSVF allows for a 
variety of substitutes for documentation requirements, including, at 
times, self-certification. However, VA has a fiduciary responsibility 
to ensure that those enrolled in services are eligible and grantees 
adequately document the services provided. This comment is beyond the 
scope of the proposed rule and we are not making any edits based on 
this comment.
    Another commenter indicated that it would be helpful if the rule 
included a ``basic overview of the scoring criteria used in making 
decisions'' for granting SSVF funds. The scoring criteria for 
supportive services grant applicants is found in 38 CFR 62.22, which we 
did not propose to amend in the proposed rule. Additionally, the 
scoring criteria for grantees applying for renewal of supportive 
services grants is found in 38 CFR 62.24, which we also did not propose 
to amend in the proposed rule. We are not making any edits based on 
this comment.
    One commenter stated that reducing the number of satisfaction 
surveys would not yield a higher response rate. We respectfully 
disagree with the commenter and believe that reducing the number of 
satisfaction surveys might prompt participants of the SSVF to provide 
feedback of their experience with the program upon completion of the 
program. We are not making any edits based on this comment.
    One commenter stated that proposed 38 CFR 62.36 should be further 
amended to state that ``there should be a mail in option for Veterans 
who do not have access to email or internet.'' Another commenter stated 
that older veterans did not want to create an email account for 
submitting the satisfaction surveys. VA is aware that not all veterans 
are able to submit the survey electronically and is also aware of the 
limitation of electronic submissions for the survey. For this reason, 
we have added a phone-based survey option for fiscal year 2017. We are 
not making any edits based on this comment.
    A commenter stated that limiting the SSVF grant to ``a 10% base 
admin rate is creating large deficits to the non-profits and sub-
grantees who implement the program.'' The commenter suggested that VA 
allow the use of ``a non-profit's allowable federal rate (typically 
around 15%) as a standard for both the grantee and sub-grantees.'' The 
commenter also stated that some sub-grantees have abandoned the SSVF 
grant due to losses the non-profits bear in administering the SSVF 
program. The limitations on costs for the administration of the SSVF 
program are stated in 38 CFR 62.10 and 62.70, which we did not propose 
to amend in the proposed rule. Any change to the limitations on 
administrative costs is beyond the scope of the proposed rule. We are 
not making any edits based on this comment.
    A commenter said that limiting a veteran household to a single 
option of moving or storage expenses is counterintuitive because stored 
items will need to be moved from the storage facility to the new 
domicile once the domicile becomes available. The commenter asks ``that 
these two costs be allowed as separate eligible expenses for each 
veteran household (as needed).'' Veterans may receive both types of 
assistance under the current regulation. Section 62.34 addresses other 
supportive services, which includes moving costs under paragraph (d). 
Paragraph (d)(2) states that moving costs assistance includes 
``reasonable moving costs, such as truck rental, hiring a moving 
company, or short-term storage fees for a maximum of 3 months or until 
the participant is in permanent housing, whichever is shorter.'' The 
storage of household items and the transportation of these items to the 
new domicile are two separate services that are included as part of the 
moving costs. Also, we did not propose to amend section 62.34 in the 
proposed rule and so any changes to this section are beyond the scope 
of the

[[Page 41525]]

proposed rule. We make no edits based on this comment.
    A commenter said that the SSVF no longer covers the payment of 
property debt, which includes arrears and damages. However, that is 
incorrect: 38 CFR 62.34(a)(1) states, ``rental assistance may be for 
rental payments that are currently due or are in arrears, and for the 
payment of penalties or fees incurred by a participant and required to 
be paid by the participant under an existing lease or court order.'' 
Also, we did not propose to amend section 62.34 in the proposed rule 
and so any edits to this section are beyond the scope of the proposed 
rule. We are not making any edits based on this comment.
    A commenter supported the rule, but stated that ``if this 
assessment and reallocation of funding occurs in real time (i.e., 
quarterly benchmarks during the grant year) this creates a new burden 
on the grantees by not giving the necessary flexibility to spend 
appropriately based on each veteran household's needs or the seasonal 
enrollment spikes that occur throughout the grant year.'' VA has the 
capacity to sweep funds on a quarterly basis as stated in the grant 
agreement between VA and the grantee. Prior to any sweep, VA would 
review the funds with the grantee to assess the needs of the community. 
We are not making any edits based on this comment.
    We are making a technical edit to 38 CFR 62.25. Proposed paragraph 
(d)(1) stated in part that ``Such applicant or grantee must have the 
capacity and agree to provide immediate services to the affected 
community.'' We are amending this sentence by deleting the term 
``immediate'' and replacing it with ``prompt'' to make this term 
consistent with language used in existing program materials. We are 
making a similar edit to 38 CFR 62.80(d)(2)(i). We are also clarifying 
in Sec.  62.25(d)(1) and Sec.  62.80(d)(2)(i) that the grantee in the 
last sentence of each paragraph is the grantee who is offered the 
additional funds. The sentence as it was written in the proposed rule 
left some ambiguity as to who we were referencing. We are not making 
any edits to the meaning of the language in the proposed rule.
    Based on the rationale set forth in the Supplementary Information 
to the proposed rule and in this final rule, VA is adopting the 
proposed rule with the edits discussed in the previous paragraph.

Effect of Rulemaking

    Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as revised by this 
final rulemaking, represents VA's implementation of its legal authority 
on this subject. Other than future amendments to this regulation or 
governing statutes, no contrary guidance or procedures are authorized. 
All existing or subsequent VA guidance must be read to conform with 
this rulemaking if possible or, if not possible, such guidance is 
superseded by this rulemaking.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This action contains provisions constituting collections of 
information, at 38 CFR 62.36, under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 
(44 U.S.C. 3501-3521). The information collection requirements for 
Sec.  62.36 are currently approved by the Office of Management and 
Budget (OMB) and have been assigned OMB control number 2900-0757. 
However, this regulatory action includes a provision reducing the 
number of surveys used for this collection from 2 to 1. VA estimates 
the number of responses for the information collection will decrease 
from 5,625 to 2,813. VA is in the process of recertifying this 
collection number under a separate action.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Secretary hereby certifies that this final rule does not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities 
as they are defined in the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-
612). This final rule only impacts those entities that choose to 
participate in the SSVF Program. Small entity applicants will not be 
affected to a greater extent than large entity applicants. Small 
entities must elect to participate, and it is considered a benefit to 
those who choose to apply. To the extent this final rule has any impact 
on small entities, it will not have an impact on a substantial number 
of small entities. Therefore, under 5 U.S.C. 605(b), this rulemaking is 
exempt from the initial and final regulatory flexibility analysis 
requirements of section 603 and 604.

Executive Order 12866 and 13563

    Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 direct agencies to assess the 
costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, when 
regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize 
net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public 
health and safety effects, and other advantages; distributive impacts; 
and equity). Executive Order 13563 (Improving Regulation and Regulatory 
Review) emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and 
benefits, reducing costs, harmonizing rules, and promoting flexibility. 
Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review) defines a 
``significant regulatory action,'' requiring review by OMB, unless OMB 
waives such review, as ``any regulatory action that is likely to result 
in a rule that may: (1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 
million or more or adversely affect in a material way the economy, a 
sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the 
environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or tribal 
governments or communities; (2) Create a serious inconsistency or 
otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency; 
(3) Materially alter the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, user 
fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients 
thereof; or (4) Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal 
mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles set forth in 
this Executive Order.''
    The economic, interagency, budgetary, legal, and policy 
implications of this regulatory action have been examined, and it has 
been determined not to be a significant regulatory action under 
Executive Order 12866. VA's impact analysis can be found as a 
supporting document at http://www.regulations.gov, usually within 48 
hours after the rulemaking document is published. Additionally, a copy 
of the rulemaking and its impact analysis are available on VA's Web 
site at http://www.va.gov/orpm/, by following the link for ``VA 
Regulations Published From FY 2004 Through Fiscal Year to Date.''

Unfunded Mandates

    The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 requires, at 2 U.S.C. 
1532, that agencies prepare an assessment of anticipated costs and 
benefits before issuing any rule that may result in the expenditure by 
State, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the 
private sector, of $100 million or more (adjusted annually for 
inflation) in any one year. This final rule will have no such effect on 
State, local, and tribal governments, or on the private sector.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Program

    The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance numbers and titles for 
the programs affected by this document are 64.009, Veterans Medical 
Care Benefits, and 64.033, VA Supportive Services for Veteran Families 
Program.

Signing Authority

    The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, or designee, approved this 
document and

[[Page 41526]]

authorized the undersigned to sign and submit the document to the 
Office of the Federal Register for publication electronically as an 
official document of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Gina S. 
Farrisee, Deputy Chief of Staff, Department of Veterans Affairs, 
approved this document on August 28, 2017, for publication.

List of Subjects in 38 CFR Part 62

    Administrative practice and procedure, Day care, Disability 
benefits, Government contracts, Grant programs--health, Grant 
programs--housing and community development, Grant programs--veterans, 
Heath care, Homeless, Housing, Indian--lands, Individuals with 
disabilities, Low and moderate income housing, Manpower training 
program, Medicare, Medicaid, Public assistance programs, Public 
housing, Relocation assistance, Rent subsidies, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Rural areas, Social security, Supplemental 
Security Income (SSI), Travel and transportation expenses, Unemployment 
compensation.

    Dated: August 29, 2017.
Janet Coleman,
Chief, Office of Regulation Policy & Management, Office of the 
Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs.

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, the Department of Veterans 
Affairs is amending 38 CFR part 62 as follows:

PART 62--SUPPORTIVE SERVICES FOR VETERAN FAMILIES PROGRAM

0
1. The authority citation for part 62 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501, 2044, and as noted in specific 
sections.


0
2. Amend Sec.  62.25 by adding paragraph (d) to read as follows:


Sec.  62.25  Selecting grantees for renewal of supportive services 
grants.

* * * * *
    (d) At its discretion, VA may award any non-renewed funds to an 
applicant or existing grantee. If VA chooses to award non-renewed funds 
to an applicant or existing grantee, funds will be awarded as follows:
    (1) VA will first offer to award the non-renewed funds to the 
applicant or grantee with the highest grant score under the relevant 
Notice of Fund Availability that applies for, or is awarded a renewal 
grant in, the same community as, or a proximate community to, the 
affected community. Such applicant or grantee must have the capacity 
and agree to provide prompt services to the affected community. Under 
this Sec.  62.25, the relevant Notice of Fund Availability is the most 
recently published Notice of Fund Availability which covers the 
geographic area that includes the affected community, or for multi-year 
grant awards, the Notice of Fund Availability for which the grantee, 
who is offered the additional funds, received the multi-year award.
    (2) If the first such applicant or grantee offered the non-renewed 
funds refuses the funds, VA will offer to award the funds to the next 
highest-ranked such applicant or grantee, per the criteria in paragraph 
(d)(1) of this section, and continue on in rank order until the non-
renewed funds are awarded.
* * * * *

0
3. Amend Sec.  62.36 by revising paragraph (c)(2) to read as follows:


Sec.  62.36  General operation requirements.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (2) The grantee must provide each participant with a satisfaction 
survey, which the participant can submit directly to VA, within 30 days 
of such participant's pending exit from the grantee's program.
* * * * *

0
4. Amend Sec.  62.80 by revising paragraph (d)(2) to read as follows:


Sec.  62.80  Withholding, suspension, deobligation, termination, and 
recovery of funds by VA.

* * * * *
    (d) * * *
    (2) At its discretion, VA may re-advertise in a Notice of Fund 
Availability the availability of funds that have been deobligated under 
this section or award deobligated funds to an applicant or existing 
grantee. If VA chooses to award deobligated funds to an applicant or 
existing grantee, funds will be awarded as follows:
    (i) VA will first offer to award the deobligated funds to the 
applicant or grantee with the highest grant score under the relevant 
Notice of Fund Availability that applied for or was awarded funds in 
the same community as, or proximate community to, the affected 
community. Such applicant or grantee must have the capacity and agree 
to provide prompt services to the affected community. Under this 
section the relevant Notice of Fund Availability is the most recently 
published Notice of Fund Availability which covers the geographic area 
that includes the affected community, or for multi-year grant awards, 
the most recently published Notice of Fund Availability which covers 
the geographic area that includes the affected community for which the 
grantee, who is offered the additional funds, received the multi-year 
award.
    (ii) If the first such applicant or grantee offered the deobligated 
funds refuses the funds, VA will offer to award funds to the next 
highest-ranked such applicant or grantee, per to the criteria in 
paragraph (d)(2)(i) of this section, and continue on in rank order 
until all deobligated funds are awarded.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2017-18574 Filed 8-31-17; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 8320-01-P