ConnectHome to Expand to Over 100 Communities

Last week, EveryoneOn, in partnership with HUD, announced the expansion of the ConnectHome pilot. First unveiled in 2015 by the Obama Administration, ConnectHome was a White House initiative aimed at narrowing the digital divide within 28 pilot communities (which included participation from 23 NAHRO member agencies). ConnectHome tested the impact of cross-sector collaborators using non-government resources in order to accelerate the adoption and utilization of broadband technology by families living in HUD-assisted housing

Beginning this summer, the expansion of ConnectHome – which has been rebranded as “ConnectHOME Nation” – will launch a new cohort of communities with the goal of reaching over 100 communities and connecting 350,000 people living in public housing by 2020.

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HUD Issues Final Rule Requiring Broadband Infrastructure in New Construction and Substantial Rehabilitation

Tomorrow, HUD will publish a final rule that requires the installation of broadband infrastructure at the time of new construction or substantial rehabilitation for multifamily rental housing that is funded or supported by HUD. Since the installation of broadband infrastructure may not be feasible for all new construction or substantial rehabilitation, the rule allows limited exceptions to the installation requirements.

The following programs will be covered by this final rule:

  1. Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant program;
  2. Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, including the CDBG Disaster Recovery program;
  3. Continuum of Care program;
  4. HOME Investment Partnerships program;
  5. Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS program;
  6. Housing Trust Fund program;
  7. Project-Based Voucher program;
  8. Public Housing Capital Fund program;
  9. Section 8 project-based housing assistance payments programs, including, but not limited to, the Section 8 New Construction, Substantial Rehabilitation, Loan Management Set Aside, and Property Disposition programs; and
  10. Section 202 and Section 811 Supportive Housing for the Elderly and Persons with Disabilities programs.

The rule will not apply to multifamily rental housing that only has a mortgage insured by HUD’s Federal Housing Administration or with a loan guaranteed under a HUD loan guarantee program.

The final rule does not change any of the substantive requirements that were in the proposed rule (members only), but adds clarifications on the threshold for substantial rehabilitation and on the point in the planning process for new construction or substantial rehabilitation at which a project must be to not be subject to the rule’s requirements. This final rule will become effective 30 days after the rule’s publication in the Federal Register.

This new rule supports the Obama Administration’s efforts to narrow the Digital Divide in the low-income communities served by HUD. Earlier this month, HUD also issued a final rule that will “modernize” the consolidated planning process for Community Planning and Development (CPD) formula grantees by adding the concepts of broadband access and vulnerability to natural hazard risks to the Consolidated Plan’s housing market analysis.

HUD Adds New Requirements to Consolidated Planning

Today, the HUD Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD) published a final rule that will “modernize” the consolidated planning process (24 CFR 91) for CPD formula grantees. The rule adds the concepts of broadband access and vulnerability to natural hazard risks to the Consolidated Plan’s existing housing market analysis. According to HUD, this rule seeks to “promote a balanced planning process that more fully considers the housing, environment, and economic needs of communities.”

Under the new rule, States and local governments must analyze the broadband needs (i.e., broadband wiring and connection to broadband service in the household unit, or the need for additional broadband Internet service providers to increase competition) of housing occupied by low- and moderate-income (LMI) households, including housing in rural areas. The rule also requires States and local governments to assess the vulnerability of housing units occupied by LMI households to increased natural hazard risks, particularly risks associated with climate change.

HUD does not expect the new regulations to result in significant additional expenses and administrative burden to jurisdictions since the requirements are similar to existing planning requirements, and the data necessary is readily available on the internet. HUD plans to input data for both broadband and resilience assessment requirements within the Consolidated Plan pre-populated data tables for use by jurisdictions, though jurisdictions can opt to use other data of their choice. HUD will provide grantees with this data early in Fiscal Year 2018.

Compliance with the requirements of the final rule will apply to Consolidated Plans submitted on or after January 1, 2018. Additional coverage of this final rule will available in the forthcoming edition the NAHRO Monitor (members only).