Last month, President Trump signed H.R. 601 into law, providing $15.25 billion in disaster relief for victims of Hurricane Harvey. Of the amount, $7.4 billion goes to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help meet immediate needs, and $450 million to the Small Business Administration (SBA) for disaster-relief loans. The remaining $7.4 billion goes to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program for disaster relief and long-term recovery. This blog will explain what the CDBG-DR program is and how funds will be allocated and administered to disaster impacted communities.
[10/6/17 Edit – the notice has been published in the Federal Register and can be found here.]
Earlier today, HUD made available a pre-publication copy of a notice titled “Relief from HUD Requirements Available to PHAs to Assist with Recovery and Relief Efforts on Behalf of Families Affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and Future Natural Disasters where Major Disaster Declarations might be Issued in 2017.” The notice establishes an expedited process for a review of waiver requests for those PHAs that are in Major Disaster Declaration areas (MDD PHAs). PHAs in future Major Disaster Declaration areas in 2017 may also use the flexibilities granted in the notice. The notice becomes applicable tomorrow (October 6, 2017) with its publication in the Federal Register.
To begin the expedited waiver process, PHAs must complete the checklist (listed as Attachment A to the notice) and must include a good-cause justification stating why the waiver is needed for the PHA’s relief and recovery efforts. A MDD PHA may also request a waiver that is not listed and still receive expedited review of the request if the MDD PHA documents that the waiver is needed for relief and recovery purposes.
To apply for these waivers through the expedited waiver process, do the following:
- Download the checklist;
- Complete the section titled “Information about Requesting Agency” (make sure an MDD PHA official signs it);
- Complete the checklists and provide any needed documentation;
- Write an email to PIH_Disaster_Relief@hud.gov and your Field Office Public Housing Director with the subject line “Hurricane Harvey/Irma Disaster Relief”;
- Attach the completed checklist to the email; and
- Send the email.
The pre-publication copy of the notice can be found here.
A brief description of the available flexibilities can be found be clicking below.
On September 28, HUD’s Operating Fund provided PHA projects a set of obligations for a small amount of funds. The funds include the 2016 holdback reserve – $5,000,000 that was set aside to address HUD corrections – and 2016 deobligations (recaptured funds) that are also available for distribution. PHAs should draw down the funds immediately, and the funds may be used for for 2016/2017 needs and/or reserves. The funds are currently available in eLOCCS.
Today, HUD posted an announcement of funding awards in the Public Inspection of the Federal Register. The announcement notifies the public of funding decisions made by HUD for competitions under NOFAs for the following programs: FY 2016 Resident Opportunity and Self-Sufficiency Program (ROSS); FY 2016 Family Self-Sufficiency Program (FSS); FY 2016 Jobs Plus Initiative; FY 2016 Research and Evaluation, Demonstration, and Data Analysis and Utilization; FY 2017 Comprehensive Housing Counseling Grant Program; FY 2017 Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control Grant Program; and FY 2017 Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration Grant Program. The announcement contains appendices that list the awardees and the amounts of each award.
On Tuesday, September 26, HUD sent an email to PHA Executive Directors in Declared Disaster Counties. The email provides information that may be useful for PHAs in those areas.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance Program – PHAs in declared disaster areas may be eligible to apply for Stafford Act Section 403 and Section 406 funds through FEMA’s Public Assistance Programs program. The Public Assistance grant program covers emergency work (covered by Section 403; e.g., debris removal, demolition of unsafe structures; or boarding of windows) and permanent work (Section 406), unless Congress appropriates funds to HUD for these purposes. Additional information on this FEMA program can be found here.
FEMA and HUD Data Sharing – Starting the week of September 18, HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) began sending reports to PHAs about program participants who have registered for FEMA assistance. HUD anticipates continuing to send these reports on a weekly basis or as new information is available. Please use discretion handling the workbooks and data.
Fraud – If PHAs have concerns about fraud, the email lists methods to contact the federal government.
FEMA’s Fraud Hotline – (866) 720-5721 and
HUD OIG’s Fraud page – (800) 347-3753.
Expedited Waiver Process – As mentioned in NAHRO’s previous blog post, HUD is in the process of creating a expedited waiver process for those PHAs in disaster areas. The process will be articulated in an upcoming Federal Register notice. This notice will be modeled on previous expedited waiver process notices.
Additional information on the Hurricanes and HUD’s response can be found at the following links:
On September 29, HUD’s Office of Public Housing sent a letter to Executive Directors of PHAs informing them that PHAs are not required to have public housing tenants declaw their cats as a condition of pet ownership. The letter notes that as a matter of public policy, cat declawing is “considered inhumane and no longer recommended by veterinarians.”
Earlier today, NAHRO, along with industry groups PHADA and CLPHA, joined HUD on a conference call to discuss updates on the HUD’s Hurricane Assistance for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. HUD noted that Hurricane Harvey impacted 1,100 properties, while Hurricanes Irma and Maria impacted 1,400 properties. The exact number of households impacted is still growing as additional information becomes available.
To facilitate quick responses to the on-the-ground situation, HUD will be issuing a notice detailing expedited waiver procedures for PHAs in the affected areas. The notice will be published in the Federal Register early next week. According to HUD, the notice will allow PHAs to apply for waivers through an expedited process, which HUD anticipates taking no more than a few business days. There will be an attachment with the notice, which PHAs can use to check off the waivers that they are requesting and provide very general and basic documentation of the need for the waiver. The waiver requests will still be submitted to the field offices.
During the call, HUD also indicated that they will provide additional guidance on how other agencies can update their disaster-related preferences so that disaster-impacted families may be able to utilize the services of other agencies. At this time, HUD believes that updating a PHA’s administrative plan for disaster-related preferences is not a “significant amendment,” making the update less burdensome for those agencies which may decide to do it.
NAHRO remains committed to providing all housing authorities in disaster-related areas with the most up-to-date information as it becomes available and assisting in any way possible.
Update: Additionally, HUD’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) has published an integrity bulletin warning “everyone affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria to be alert for fraud schemes that commonly occur following a disaster.” Schemes include scam housing inspectors, scam contractors, fake relief programs, flood-damaged cars being offered for resale, and mortgage rescue scams. Additional information can be found here.