Disaster Discourse: The Hagerty Blog

HUD Announces Nearly $1.5 Billion for 2018 Disasters – Start Planning Now!

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allocated nearly $1.5 billion in Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funding to support seven states in their long-term recovery from major disasters of 2018. This funding is primarily earmarked for communities recovering from Hurricanes Florence and Michael and the California wildfires. As much as $2 billion in supplemental CDBG-DR funding may also be on the horizon for these communities, pending ongoing negotiation in Congress.

Figure 1: The map below displays the HUD CDBG-DR allocations by state and eligible disasters.

HUD’s announcement of CDBG-DR funding is the first in many steps to direct Federal funding to communities in need.

As one of the largest Federal recovery programs, CDBG-DR provides a vital bridge for communities transitioning from immediate response to long-term recovery, representing an investment in rebuilding, financial support for disaster relief, restoration of damaged infrastructure and housing, and economic revitalization for disaster-affected communities.

What can states and communities do now to prepare for CDBG-DR Funding?

Look for the Federal Register Notice.

Critical deadlines, proposed rules, and effective requirements of this funding will not be formalized until a Formal Notice is published in the Federal Register. It is important to fully read and understand both the Public Law and Federal Register Notice to effectively implement and manage any programs funded by CDBG-DR. Stay tuned: the Hagerty team will discuss the Federal Register Notice at Disaster Discourse when it is posted.

Identify unmet needs vital to your community’s recovery.

CDBG-DR funding is designed to address long-term needs that are unmet by other Federal disaster recovery funding, such as FEMA’s Public Assistance (PA) or Individual Assistance (IA) programs. Developing a formal Needs Assessment is a cornerstone requirement of the CDBG-DR program. Understanding and quantifying what those unmet needs are will help to define what eligible CDBG-DR recovery programs will be most effective at meeting local, strategic priorities for long-term recovery.

Advocate for flexibility in the use of your CDBG-DR funding.

CDBG-DR funding is flexible by design, allowing communities to direct and define which CDBG-DR programs will contribute to successful recovery. While the rules and requirements of the funding are outlined within the Public Law and Federal Register Notice, a community may advocate for the inclusion of waivers that provide additional flexibility for how and when CDBG-DR funding may be spent. Begin to think through what waivers you might consider.

Define local solutions for your recovery.

While the rules and requirements are determined at the federal level, implementation and program design is determined at the state or local level, usually in collaboration between states and affected local municipalities, through the development of an Action Plan. Action Plans synthesize the impact of the disaster identified in the unmet needs assessment, define the scope of recovery actions for which CDBG-DR funding will be used, and plan how the state or community will implement these programs in recovery work. Action Plans also incorporate public input; building mechanisms for public engagement, both for citizens and communities, to have a voice in the recovery process will be crucial for the long-term success of CDBG-DR programs. Planning your own strategies and solutions requires technical expertise and broad community input but gives power to the community to set their own standards for success in disaster recovery.

 Assess your capacity to manage CDBG-DR programs.

The administration of federally-funded recovery programs is complex and intensive.  Successful implementation requires effective program design, efficient project management, and technical expertise. CDBG-DR often requires scaling program operations and staffing at the state and local levels to accommodate HUD’s programmatic requirements. Identifying and addressing organizational and technical needs early is a community’s best investment in minimizing risks of adverse audit findings or potential loss of federal funding in the future.

Madeline Stoddart is a Managing Associate in Hagerty Consulting’s Recovery Division, supporting Hagerty’s clients in Florida in their long-term recovery from Hurricane Michael. Prior to joining Hagerty, Madeline worked for the New York City Office of Management and Budget and New York University’s Wagner School of Public Policy, specializing in policy and public finance. From 2013 to 2015, Madeline served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kyrgyzstan, working on improving public health delivery and strategic planning.