HUD Technical Assistance Can Help Improve Housing and Community Development Program Outcomes
In support of its many programs, the United States (U.S.) Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers an extensive array of technical assistance (TA) to grantees and recipients of HUD funding. In an environment where state and local governments are experiencing unique constraints making use of annual, disaster relief, and COVID-19 funding streams, quality TA can be a game changer. TA can help communities develop an effective plan to address a wide range of housing and community development needs.
The gateway to HUD’s TA is the HUD Exchange. On this site, users can retrieve program information, access programmatic resources, obtain training materials and request various forms of hands-on assistance from TA providers funded by HUD. If you are a recipient of HUD funds and are not familiar with the HUD Exchange, a quick review of the website will reveal its depth and pay a dividend the next time you have questions about HUD funding.
One aspect of the site deserves attention relative to HUD’s Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funding. The specific CDBG-DR page on the HUD Exchange provides users with detailed program information under the headings of Getting Started and Resources and Training Materials. For state and local officials responsible for CDBG-DR funds, these materials successfully outline how to develop and implement a program that makes efficient use of these funds. As recovery needs often change over time, the website can offer insightful help throughout the long-term recovery process.
Since December 2015, Congress has appropriated more than $42 billion for the HUD CDBG-DR program and concurrently enabled HUD to reserve $20 million for disaster recovery TA efforts. A significant portion of the TA funding remains available and CDBG-DR grantees can request different forms of help to improve program performance. Under the heading of “Program Support”, grantees have access to an “Ask A Question” feature but, more importantly, can request hands on-help from HUD’s cohort of competitively selected TA providers. These providers can:
- Deliver in-depth assistance with implementing, operating, or administering a CDBG-DR program;
- Address issues that may require site visits and reoccurring communication with consultants; and
- Provide long-term assistance to build organizational skills and capacity for operating a CDBG-DR program.
Often, CDBG-DR grantees are aware of the website but tend to be less familiar with the in-depth TA opportunities and, accordingly, do not take full advantage of the resources offered. Importantly, HUD provides this service at no cost to grantees so accessing it does not create a drain on administrative and planning allowances available under the CDBG-DR grant. It does not matter where a CDBG-DR grantee is in the recovery process – action plan development, launch, execution or winding down toward closeout – HUD can help grantees address issues both predictable and unique as they pursue their recovery goals. To learn more about this help, contact your HUD field office or visit the HUD Exchange website and look under the tab labeled “Program Support”.
On a related note, as part of efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic, HUD received additional TA funding under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Grantees can seek the same forms of assistance related to the use of the CDBG and Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) funding available under the CARES Act. HUD has been displaying much of its COVID-19 response information via the HUD Exchange and will likely make more information about the range of available TA available soon.
Stan Gimont is a Senior Advisor for Community Recovery with Hagerty. Stan joined Hagerty after 32 years of service with HUD. With Hagerty, Stan provides strategic advisory support focused on HUD Programs, housing issues, and long-term community recovery. From August 2016 through July 2019, Stan served as HUD’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Grant Programs. In this role he provided management direction and oversight for all aspects of the CDBG Program, including long-term disaster recovery CDBG-DR, the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, the National Housing Trust Fund, as well as HUD’s environmental review responsibilities. From 2017 through 2019, his leadership helped to secure $40 billion in CDBG-DR funding in response to major disasters, such as hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. As Director of HUD’s Office of Block Grant Assistance from 2008-2016, Stan managed approximately $60 billion in federal funding to assist the nation’s communities in addressing housing, development, and disaster recovery needs. Among Stan’s notable achievements as Director is the implementation of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program in response to the 2008-2010 housing crisis, oversight of CDBG-DR funding for New Jersey and New York in response to Hurricane Sandy, and management of HUD’s National Disaster Resilience Competition in 2014-2015.