Disaster Discourse: The Hagerty Blog

Open for Comment: HUD Seeking Input on CDBG-DR Rules, Waivers, and Alternative Requirements

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is taking another step in its effort to improve implementation of its Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program by seeking public comment on a range of CDBG-DR issues. On December 20, 2022, HUD published in the Federal Register two Requests for Information (RFI) – one focused on basic CDBG-DR program requirements and operations with the second addressing the CDBG-DR funding allocation methodology. Each RFI poses a series of questions and comments are due to HUD not later than February 21, 2023.

The goal is to collect a broad set of comments to help inform a “universal notice” that HUD plans to develop in the coming months. This is a unique opportunity for affected and interested parties to have an impact on CDBG-DR where that opportunity has not been previously available.

Background

Since 2001, Congress has appropriated more than $100 billion for the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program to help states and local governments in their long-term disaster recovery efforts. Despite this extraordinary funding, Congress has not permanently authorized the program and, as a result, HUD has never issued permanent CDBG-DR regulations.

HUD frames the program based on congressional appropriations language, which specifies certain requirements and provides HUD with a unique waiver and alternative requirement authority, as well as adherence to the priorities of one Presidential Administration to the next. These threads come together in Federal Register Notices which HUD issues on a continual basis as new appropriations and funding allocations occur. Over the past 20 years, HUD has issued dozens of Federal Register Notices which have created a challenging path for CDBG-DR grantees and the public to navigate when implementing funding.

Intermediate Steps

In the absence of a permanent foundation, HUD is trying to bring more predictability to the CDBG-DR implementation process and, hopefully, decrease the time it takes for the funding to provide positive results for disaster survivors and affected communities. One step was the 2022 issuance of a “Consolidated Notice” which HUD has indicated will be the central organizing document for the CDBG-DR program for the next several years. In developing the Consolidated Notice, HUD reorganized its presentation while adding, removing, and revising some guidance but fundamentally keeping the same approach on most policy issues. Introduction of the RFI process shows that HUD is desirous of more sweeping changes and wants to understand the needs and concerns of the grantee community before developing those changes.

Purpose of the RFIs

In the program focused RFI, HUD clearly states it wants feedback from two perspectives:

  • How it “can modify, expand, streamline, or remove CDBG-DR rules and requirements”; and
  • How it can “reduce the administrative burden” for grantees to accelerate recovery.

The program RFI identifies eight different areas of emphasis, each with multiple prompting questions to address reducing administrative burdens, accelerating recovery, establishing community priorities, developing action plans, understanding requirements for most impacted and distressed (MID) areas, advancing equity and affordable housing development, as well as incorporating mitigation and resilience – including improving building codes and standards.

The funding formula RFI provides a detailed explanation of the methodology that has emerged over time and then poses its own specific questions on various components of the methodology. Those components include topics such as funding eligibility, unmet needs, allocation calculations, mitigation, and minimum spend in most impacted areas.

Responding to RFIs

Parties interested in responding should first access the RFIs via the following links:

CDBG-DR Program RFI

CDBG-DR Formula RFI

After reviewing either or both RFIs, those interested in commenting can select what they wish to comment upon, using HUD’s broad areas of inquiry, or focusing on some of the specific questions within those areas, or introducing topics not raised by HUD. There is no need to address every issue in the RFI for comments to be considered; however, HUD does ask that respondents link comments to specific questions (if possible).

When submitting comments, be sure to include the title of the RFI as well as the document number found on the first page of the Federal Register Notice.

What’s next?

Once responses to the RFIs have been collected and considered, we expect further HUD guidance, and recommend that CDBG-DR grantees closely watch this process. We will continue to provide more updates on our blog as well – stay tuned!

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Stan Gimont is a Senior Advisor for Community Recovery with Hagerty. Stan joined Hagerty after 32 years of service with HUD including serving as HUD’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Grant Programs. With Hagerty, Stan provides strategic advisory support focused on HUD Programs, housing issues, and long-term community recovery.