CASF Public Housing Account Frequently Asked Questions

 

Application Process:

1.     Is the application template already available?

  • Yes, the application workbooks for infrastructure and adoption projects, including instructions, are posted on the CPUC Public Housing website 

2.     Where are the guidelines for the applications?

  • The program rules and guidelines are set forth in Appendix B CASF Broadband Public Housing Account Application Requirements and Guidelines of the CPUC Decision 14-12-039 (the Guidelines).

3.     Would the funding be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis?

  • Yes, the Commission will award the grants on a “first-come, first-serve” basis between now and December 31, 2020.  We are accepting applications starting October, 2017 and processing on a quarterly basis. 

4.     Is there a limit to the number of properties an affordable housing agency can apply for?

  • No, there is no limit to the number of properties (projects) you can apply for.  Each project will need to be in a separate “Project Information” tab in the application workbook. 

5.     Can an application just be for adoption grant only or is it necessary to apply in conjunction with an infrastructure grant. Can an application just be for infrastructure only?

  • Yes, an application can be just for either type of project.  Infrastructure and Adoption projects are two different types of applications. 

6.     What’s the difference in timing between resolution and expedited review?

  • Expedited review means Communications Division (CD) staff can approve a project if it meets all of the checklist criteria.  CD staff will review applications received before or on each given quarterly deadline and will try to approve/reject projects before the next quarterly deadline.  CD staff may recommend approval of projects that do not meet all of the checklist criteria via Commission resolution, which would add at least six to eight weeks to the process.  In this case, CD staff will draft a resolution recommending Commission approval of CASF funds for the project and issue the draft resolution for public comments at least 30 days before the Commission meeting.

7.     Is there an RFP document available?

  • There is no RFP Document or RFP process associated with the CASF Public Housing Account application.  The program rules and guidelines are set forth in CPUC Decision 14-12-039 and Resolution T-17575 that implements SB 745 .  Below is the link to the CASF Public Housing website where the decision, resolution, program guidelines, application workbooks and instructions are posted

 

Eligibility:

1.     What is the definition of multifamily?

  • Multifamily is a classification of housing where multiple separate housing units are contained within one building or several buildings within one complex.  A common form is an apartment building.

 2.     Are only "rental" multifamily units eligible?  Would affordable housing that will be owned by low income individuals be eligible?

  • Multifamily units owned by a public housing agency or a nonprofit organization, as defined in Public Utilities Code Section 281(h)(1), which are rented out to low income households are eligible.  Affordable housing that is owned or will be owned by individual low-income families will not be qualified.

 3.     Are low-income senior housing projects eligible?

  • Yes, low-income senior housing projects are eligible provided the projects also meet all other program requirements.

 4.     What is the eligibility protocol for mixed-income sites for the CASF public housing fund? Does it include any other requirements or stipulations?

  • A mixed-income site can qualify for the program provided it meets the eligibility requirements of the program.  The eligibility requirements for the CASF Public Housing Account are set forth in Public Utilities Code Section 281(h)(1).  Please also refer to the Guidelines  (Appendix B of Decision 14-12-039 as modified by Resolution T-17575), Section IV on Eligible Applicants.

 5.     Do mobile home parks count as multifamily?

  • No, mobile home parks are not considered multifamily housing developments; multifamily units must share the same building or buildings in a complex.

 6.     Are the same qualification criteria for infrastructure projects applied to adoption project applicants?

  • The qualification criteria are different between Infrastructure and Adoption projects; they are explained in Sections V.1 and V.2 of the Guidelines ( Decision 14-12-039 as modified by Resolution T-17575, Appendix B), respectively. 

 7.     If the project is currently owned by a Public Housing Authority but will be owned by a 501c3 at the time work will be conducted, should an applicant check both boxes on the application or only the box of the future ownership structure?

  • It depends on which entity will seek reimbursement.  The 501c3 should have received some kind of public funding for housing purposes (e.g. TCAC tax credits) which is an important requirement as well.

8.     If a Housing Authority is a designated HUD Moving to Work (MTW) Demonstration Housing Agency, and as such, is not scored by HUD's Public Housing Assessment System (PHAS), can the Housing Authority leave this blank in the application?

  • We would need something equivalent to the PHAS score to be submitted with the application so that we can gauge the well-being of the Housing Authority, i.e., physical condition of the agency’s housing stock, its financial condition, management performance and capital spending, which are captured in the PHAS score.  (See Decision 14-12-039, Staff Report, p. A 25.)  Please submit whatever documentation is available in lieu of the PHAS score to give us an idea of the above indicators.  If the Housing Authority received a PHAS score prior to its MTW designation, please send us the latest score obtained.

9.     What is public funding?  Are Tax credits considered public funding?

  • “Public funding” as described in Public Utilities Code Section 281(h)(1) refers to funding received by an incorporated nonprofit organization “to subsidize the construction or maintenance of housing occupied by residents whose annual income qualifies as “low” or “very low” income according to federal poverty guidelines.”  Tax credits received by a nonprofit organization from a federal and/or state public agency such as the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee (TCAC) for affordable housing purposes are considered “public funding” in the context of an applicant’s eligibility for the CASF Public Housing Account.  

10.  Do payments for previously received funding as a contract provider of adoption training through the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) count as public funding?

  • No, they do not because:  
    • CETF is not a government agency
    • In the context of the CASF Public Housing Account, public funding refers to tax credits, loans or grants provided by government agencies for affordable housing purposes.
     

 11.  The application form requires a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to provide its most recent annual report and audit report that it submitted to a government entity (for example, the Tax Credit Allocation Committee).  For an application that includes several properties, do you need the most recent annual report and audit for EACH property covered in the application, or just one?

  • The independent audit conducted annually that covers the non-profit as an organization (that is also submitted to all government funding sources) and the latest annual report of the non-profit organization will satisfy this requirement.  There is no need to submit audit and annual reports for each property contained in the application. 

12.  Do we need to submit a government funding award letter for each property contained in the application, or just a single letter showing that the applicant does receive government funding?

  • An award letter to the applicant from a public agency such as the California Tax Allocation Committee (TCAC), proving its receipt of public funding for affordable housing purposes would satisfy this requirement.  There is no need to submit an award letter for each property contained in an application.  

 

Infrastructure Projects:

1.     Can the grant be reserved for "acquisition projects" not yet owned?

  • No, the grant cannot be reserved for “acquisition projects” not yet owned.

2.     Can the work be in the process of being completed (or started) when applying?

  • The CASF Public Housing Account funds are not intended for projects that are already completed or in the process of being completed. Specifically, the CASF program will not cover costs that have already been incurred on project construction prior to approval of the application.

 3.     Is there a time limit between award of funds and project completion?  For example, we intend to apply October 2017 and conduct the work about 1 year later after the project closes its financing and construction begins, as is typical with other affordable housing funding sources.  Please confirm that this is compatible with the program.

  • The projects should be completed within 12 months of Commission approval of the application.  If a project cannot meet this requirement, an applicant can still apply but approval of the project will be via the resolution process.

 4.     Can these funds be used for new property developments, assuming the timeframe can be met?

  • Yes, the program funds can apply to new developments (provided other project requirements are met) but the applicant will need to separately identify the direct costs for broadband connectivity infrastructure for CASF funding from the rest of the cost of the new development. 
  • The program will reimburse for the expenses associated with the list of items in the Guidelines (Decision 14-12-039, Appendix B, p. B 1).

5.     Will systems in need of a technology refresh be eligible?

  • Yes, updating existing systems to meet the internet service speeds and other performance requirements would be eligible.  Please note that the CASF program will only reimburse for items as specified in the Guidelines ( Appendix B of Decision 14-12-039 as modified by Resolution T-17575), p. B1.

 6.     Can a nonprofit housing organization that meets all eligibility requirements apply to provide broadband Internet services in affordable housing units that have already have coax cable and there is a commercial cable service provider, such as Comcast?

  •  The nonprofit housing organization can only apply if at least one unit is "unserved" by an existing provider.  An "unserved" housing development is a housing development where at least one housing unit within the housing development is not offered broadband Internet service.   A housing unit is "not offered broadband Internet service" if the unit does not have access to a commercially available broadband Internet service, such as Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), a cable modem, or another protocol, available at the unit.

7.     If a unit already has DSL access, do upgrades to cabling infrastructure qualify for funding?

  • Yes, upgrades to cabling infrastructure would qualify for funding.

8.     Do PSCs with broadband access but no Wi-Fi access qualify?  This would mean residents obtain Wi-Fi internet through shared ISP access; account holder would be Trust or partner rather than individual resident.

  • Yes PSCs with broadband access but not Wi-Fi infrastructure do qualify.

9.     Does the WiFi model include cell tower technology?  If this works, can we get reimbursed for purchasing the modems/hot spots for residents and having them pay the company directly?  

  • The program will reimburse for the expenses associated with the list of items in the Guidelines ( Appendix B of Decision 14-12-039 as modified by Resolution T-17575), p. B1.   Cell tower is not included in the list, but modems or routers are.  However, it would be better if we can get a description of the specific project to clarify what “cell tower technology” is being referred to.   If it means actually erecting a cell tower it might present cost issues that could push the project over the $75k limit for expedited review.  It might also present issues regarding where the tower would be sited and potential zoning/permitting requirements as a result.  If it means an antenna to be installed within the housing complex and is part of the networking equipment needed to receive WI-FI signal, then perhaps that would be eligible. 

10.  “Existing property infrastructure requires no significant upgrades…” – What do you define as “significant upgrades?”

  • “Significant upgrades” refers to major rehabilitation, demolition, or construction as noted in in the Guidelines ( Appendix B of Decision 14-12-039 as modified by Resolution T-17575), p. B8.

11.  Are there restrictions/guidelines for selecting 3rd party provider/implementation technology vendors?

  • No, there are no such restrictions/guidelines.  However, in considering potential vendors to install the equipment, we strongly urge applicants to consider the recommendations made in the Staff Report. The recommendations include ensuring that: the vendor is a licensed California contractor and may wish to obtain services from vendors possessing either C-7 Low Voltage Systems Contractor License or a C-10 Electrical Contractor License; that the vendor is manufacturer certified on the equipment it proposes to install and has verifiable experience deploying the solution/product particularly in multi-dwelling units; and that the vendor is capable of providing on-going technical support and maintenance to the project for the duration of the support commitment.  (See Decision 14-12-039, Appendix A, pp. A21-A22.)

12.  Can ISPs request access after the application has been posted and use a denial of such a request to challenge the application?

  • No, the denial of service must have occurred prior to the application being filed and posted on the CPUC website in order for the ISP to pose a challenge to the application on this basis. 

13.   “Residents will be charged no more than $20/mo for internet service.”  Is this limited to the ISP or can the applicant recuperate ISP costs by adding a fee to resident’s rent?

  • The limit on the amount that a resident may be charged applies to the applicant. This requirement is for the Expedited Review process and an applicant could apply with a fee greater than $20, but approval of the project will be via the resolution process.

14. Will CASF Public Housing Infrastructure Grantees be subject to prevailing wage requirements?

  • The CPUC does not have jurisdiction over prevailing wage issues, but all CASF applicants are expected to comply with all applicable laws, including the State’s prevailing wage requirements, unless they are determined exempt by the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR).  Questions concerning the prevailing wage requirements should be directed to the DIR Office of the Director, Legal Unit– (510) 286-3800; DIR Office of Policy Research and Legislation – (415) 703-4780; DIR’s general email address is available at http://www.dir.ca.gov

Adoption Projects:

1.     Can you provide clarification or examples outlining the “digital literacy” training requirements?

  • The applicant has the flexibility in the administration and content of the digital literacy curriculum.  (See Decision 14-12-039, p. 21.)  However, for expedited review, the applicant must use curriculum that has already been used before, in addition to other criteria in the checklist.  (See Decision 14-12-039, Appendix B, p. 14.)  As noted in the Staff Report (Decision 14-12-039, Appendix A, p. A53-A54), this will ensure that an already tested and implemented curriculum is used rather than expending funds to create brand new curricula. 

2.     Regarding the technical support requirement, can support be handled by in-house IT or through a managed partner?

  • Either in-house IT or a managed partner can provide the Technical Support.  However, in order to be eligible for Expedited Review, the applicant must follow technical support requirements in the Guidelines ( Appendix B of Decision 14-12-039 as modified by Resolution T-17575), p. B14.

3.     Device cost limitation of $250/device.  Can applicant pickup any excess cost if suitable devices at that price are limited? 

  • Yes, the applicant can pick up the excess device cost.  Please note that the program will not reimburse the applicant for the excess device cost.  The applicant also cannot charge the excess device cost to the residents.  However, residents can make voluntary donations for devices to offset the device cost.

 


Immigration Guide