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LeadingAge staff met with David Vargas, director of the Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC), and his senior staff in early December 2012 to hear more about the launch of the latest upgrades to the Physical Assessment Sub System (PASS) system, referred to as DCD 4.0, which is being celebrated as it incorporates years of recommended and negotiated improvements to the physical inspection protocol, from the dictionary of deficiency definitions to a scoring cap on points lost to individual items.
The new system goes live for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) multifamily properties in January 2013.
All HUD assisted and insured housing (public housing and multifamily housing) covered under the REAC Uniform Physical Condition Standards (UPCS) regulations must be inspected by REAC. PASS of the Office of Public and Indian Housing - Real Estate Assessment Center (PIH-REAC) facilitates these inspections of all HUD-affiliated properties.
In late 2012, HUD launched a major upgrade to PASS hardware, the inspectors hand-held data collection devices, and the underlying “dictionary of definitions” which define deficiencies in the physical condition in the public housing arena. The upgrades and protocols go into effect in January 2013 for multifamily properties.
DCD 4.0 was created in response to industry requirements, years of negotiated changes in the dictionary of deficiency definitions, including a long-advocated scoring cap for individual elements, and because the original infrastructure needed to be updated. This marks the first major upgrade since the 2.3 software was launched in 2000.
Features of the new version include enhanced functionality (the system now guides the inspector through a series of drop-downs in the decision-making process – like Turbo-Tax), and allows for specific identification of every defect with associated details in enhanced “comments” sections (which means inspectors will now be able to make note of multiple deficiencies in one area.).
Public versions of the software are available for owners to use, to better understand or use in their own properties.
The inspection summary reports will also look different, and are expected to be easier to read and understand, a video has been created by REAC for education purposes, and is highly recommended.
REAC has worked hard to post a range of resources to educate stakeholders on the various changes, including launching an online training program to replace the earlier 3-day in-person training (though some may yet be offered), and a number of online YouTube videos to demonstrate and explain the new processes.
Key online REAC inspection resources include:
REAC continues to make progress in the area of improved communication and customer service. This commitment has been articulated in every meeting that LeadingAge has had with REAC Director David Vargas and with REAC staff at all levels over the past several years. LeadingAge commends REAC staff on their responsiveness, stakeholder engagement and ongoing accessibility.
In August 2012, HUD launched a new UPCS Inspection Online Training program for multifamily owners/agents which includes a certification of completion for those who register through the online learning management system and complete the online training within the proscribed period of time. During the month of February, LeadingAge staff and 9 LeadingAge members participated in a beta-test of the program and provided comments to help improve the content flow and level of detail.
This UPCS Inspection Online Training has been developed specifically for owners, employees and other representatives of Multi-Family Housing properties.
This course introduces participants to HUD's Uniform Physical Condition Standards (UPCS) physical inspection protocol and procedures. This course is not for inspector certification.
In February 2012, LeadingAge staff and 9 LeadingAge members participated in a beta-test of the program and provided comments to help improve the content flow and level of detail.
While at times dry or a bit too focused on the inspector's use of the handheld inspection and data collection tool, the online training programs offers far more information, far more accessibily, than the previously limited availability of slots for the 3-day intensive in-person classes. Though we are told the in-person training will resume shortly.
This expands upon the launch in 2011 of a series of helpful videos on YouTube, explaining in detail certain aspects of the physical inspection process, including:
Also available are a number of fact sheets including inspection tips, how to file an appeal and detailed illustrations regarding electrical panels.
REAC has other inspection training resources, including slides from presentations made already.