Learn More About Section 3 Certification in Willow Grove on 2/9

Section 3 HandbookStop by and visit Staff Attorney Jack Stucker in Willow Grove at the First Baptist Church of Crestmont on Tuesday, February 9th from 10 AM – 2 PM to learn more about Section 3 Certification for your business. Pick up a copy of our new small business handbook while you’re there!

Held by Commissioner Wayne C. Luker and Harkins Builders, Inc., this pre-screening employment event seeks to link WBE/MBE and Section 3 Certified business candidates with opportunities in the construction field.

Check out this flyer to found out more. Employment Prescreening in Willow Grove

Learn about Section 3 Certification for Montgomery County Small Businesses.

Section 3 Certification Handbook Provides Wealth of Resources for Small Businesses

Section 3 HandbookOn Wednesday, January 13th, Regional Housing Legal Services (RHLS) celebrated the kickoff of the Montgomery County Section 3 Business Certification program at the Community Room in the Willow Grove, PA GIANT Food Store.

Thank you to all who attended for your thoughtful questions and comments, enthusiasm, and commitment to the economic opportunities provided through HUD’s Section 3.

With small businesses, general contractors, developers, and community development VIPs in attendance, Staff Attorneys Jack Stucker and Bob Damewood presented an overview of Section 3-related policies with the goal of benefiting local small businesses, general contractors and the developers that contract with them.

The RHLS Section 3 Business Certification Program is active in Allegheny and Montgomery Counties and certifies businesses that are owned by or provide substantial economic opportunities for low-income people. Certification as Section 3 eligible entitles businesses to a qualified contracting preference on HUD-funded development projects. Certified businesses are listed in a searchable online database that can be used by covered developers and contractors to identify eligible Section 3 Businesses.

With support from Montgomery County and the Montgomery County Housing Authority, our Section 3 handbook describes how Section 3 Certification can help small businesses and provides extensive listings for other certification opportunities and resources.

Download the RHLS Section 3 Business Certification Handbook

Apply for Section 3 Certification in Montgomery County.

Does your organization help small businesses in Montgomery County or the Greater Philadelphia Area? E-mail jstucker@rhls.org to have copies of the handbook mailed to your office or if you would like more information about the program.

HUD Proposes New Section 3 Regulations

HUD and the Department of Transportation have proposed new rules governing local hiring and contracting. Anyone interested in submitting comments can do so here. Comments are due by April 6th for the Department of Transportation Rule and May 26th for the HUD rules.

HUD’s Proposed New Section 3 Rules

HUD has released its long-awaited proposed new regulations governing Section 3. The proposed rules can be found by clicking here.

The major changes for Section 3 contracting include the following:

1. Eligible Businesses (Sec. 135.5)

• Perpetual eligibility for category 1 businesses. Category 1 businesses would apparently continue to be eligible for a Section 3 preference after the Section 3 owners no longer meet HUD income requirements.

• Elimination of the so-called “Wal-Mart loophole” for category 2 businesses. Eligibility of Section 3 employees under category 2 would be determined as of the date of hire. Businesses could no longer qualify for a Section 3 preference by paying their employees poverty wages.

• Elimination of the third category. The rule would eliminate category 3 because HUD found “a pattern of misuse by contractors that initially indicated they would award 25% of subcontracts to Section 3 businesses in order to receive preference for contracts, but never provided contracts to them.”
• New category: public housing resident-owned businesses (these businesses are already eligible under category 1)

• New category: businesses that provide substantial training opportunities. Businesses that either sponsor apprenticeship or pre- apprenticeship training for low-income employees or that hire YouthBuild graduates would be eligible for a Section 3 preference.

2. Self-Certification and Presumed Eligibility (Sec. 135.15)

• Self-certification of businesses. Recipient agencies would be allowed to accept self-certifications, but they would be required to verify a sample of self-certified businesses. It’s not clear what size the sample would have to be or how often the sampling would have to be taken.

• Presumed eligibility for businesses in HUD-designated areas. Businesses that are located in HUD-designated distressed areas, or that provide evidence that a substantial number of their employees reside in such areas, would be presumed to be eligible for a Section 3 preference.

3. “Local Area” Limitation (Sec. 135.5)

• Businesses must be located in the “metropolitan statistical area or non-metropolitan county” in which the Section 3 covered project is located in order to receive a Section 3 contracting preference.

4. Changes to Minimum Compliance Thresholds (Sec. 135.35 and 135.55)

• The 3% minimum threshold for non-construction contracts would be eliminated and replaced with a minimum compliance threshold of 10% of the aggregate dollar value of all contracts.

5. Covered Housing and Community Development Projects (Sec. 135.53)

• The $100,000 per contract coverage threshold would be eliminated. Instead, Section 3 requirements would apply to all projects and activities that are funded with HUD housing and community development assistance, regardless of the dollar amount, as long as the recipient agency plans to obligate or commit $400,000 or more in covered assistance per year.

HUD is also proposing a number of changes for the provision of employment and training opportunities for Section 3 residents.

The deadline to submit comments on HUD’s proposed Section 3 rules is May 26, 2015.

Not sure where to start? RHLS can help Section 3 Certified Businesses and nonprofit advocates craft comments. Contact Bob@rhls.org for assistance.

Geographic-Based Hiring Preferences Rule

In addition to the rules proposed by HUD, the Department of Transportation is proposing a rule change that would make it clear that geographic hiring preferences may be used in DOT grant programs.

You can learn more by reading this informative blog by the Partnership for Working Families, or read the rule here.

The deadline to submit comments on DOT’s proposed local hire rules is April 6, 2015.


Housing Justice Network Provides Comments on Section 3 Proposed Rules

This spring, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a draft proposal for finalized Section 3 rules. The issued rules included several changes to the Section 3 program, discussed in this RHLS blog post from March. Public comments on the changes were due on May 26th.

Regional Housing Legal Services Staff Attorney, Bob Damewood, worked with the Housing Justice Network, a nationwide group of attorneys and advocates work with low-income tenants and applicants for HUD-assisted housing, to author comments on the proposed new rules.

The Housing Justice Network’s comments emphasize effectiveness, clarity, transparency, and an improved targeting of those intended to benefit from Section 3. Some key recommendations provided by the Housing Justice Network include:

  • Prescribing minimum efforts to link Section 3 residents and businesses with economic opportunities.
  • Opposing onerous minimum qualifications on residents and and businesses.
  • Quality control for the self-certification of businesses to protect the integrity of the system.
  • A rule that would require recipients to ensure that their subrecipient and contractor selection procedures assess bidders’ previous compliance and ability to retain Section 3 hires, comply with requirements, and provide training opportunities.
  • Eliminating the “new hire” standard of measuring compliance and using a flat percentage of hours worked instead.
  • Incentives for apprenticeship, training, and retention of low-income workers.
  • Providing higher priority consideration for employment and contracting opportunities to all recipients, including residents of HUD multifamily housing.

The full document submitted by the Housing Justice Network can be read here. Check back for further developments as the proposed rules move through the regulatory process.

Section 3 Certification Program Receives Funding to Sustain Efforts

The Regional Housing Legal Services Section 3 Certification program is commencing its fourth year of certifying businesses.

The Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority approved a $15,000 grant for a continuation of the program in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. These funds will assist RHLS in continuing to support local businesses in getting Section 3 contracts, building their clientele base, and helping contractors ensure that they are maintaining Section 3 compliance on their projects.

RHLS wishes to thank those who have supported the Section 3 Certification program for their sustained support of our work in Allegheny County.

Section 3 Certification Program Brochure: Allegheny County

Get your business or contract certified.

Learn about the Section 3 Certification Program.