NCDA Washington Report: June 30, 2021

George Mensah Testifies Before the House Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development, and Insurance on CDBG

On June 16, the House Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development, and Insurance held a hearing on the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program. The hearing, “Flexible Federal Funding: Examining the Community Development Block Grant Program and Its Impact on Addressing Local Challenges,” led by Subcommittee Chairman Emanuel Cleaver II (D-MO), brought together a panel of experts to discuss the role CDBG plays in addressing affordable housing, public services, infrastructure, and other local needs. George Mensah, Director of the City of Miami Department of Housing and Community Development, testified on behalf of NCDA. Mr. Mensah was joined by San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Kimberly Robinson, Executive Director of the Pioneer Valley (MA) Planning Commission, Joseph Jaroscak, Economic Development Analyst at the Congressional Research Service, and Salim Firth, Senior Fellow at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center.

Mr. Mensah testified on the recommendations developed by the NCDA Racial Equity Working Group to improve the CDBG program which include the reauthorization of the program at $12 billion, to adjust the program for inflation, and increased program flexibilities for grantees to spend program funds on new construction of housing, public services, fair housing, and nonprofit capacity building. Mr. Mensah’s testimony is available here.

NCDA is continuing to work with Chairman Cleaver to move a CDBG reauthorization bill forward later this year.

NCDA Elects New Officers

On June 18, NCDA elected new officers to serve on the Executive Committee for the 2021-2022 year. The executive officers were recommended by the NCDA Nominations and Elections Committee, a council of peers, and approved by the membership.

Anne Marie Belrose, Assistant Director at the Boston Department of Neighborhood Development, will assume the role of President and will lead NCDA for the next year. Ms. Belrose has extensive experience in mission-driven public, private, and nonprofit organizations. The following members were elected to serve as Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer.

  • Vice President: Debra Rhinehart, Strategic Advisor, Department of Human Services, City of Seattle, WA
  • Secretary: Shirletta Best, Community Services Administrator, City of McKinney, TX
  • Treasurer: Marcy Esbjerg, Community Development Director, Pasco County, FL

Together the new officers comprise the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee is the leadership arm of the Board of Directors and is responsible for monitoring the activities and financial functions of NCDA.

NCDA Consolidated Planning Training

NCDA will host a new online course this August on consolidated planning for grantees. The course will provide an overview of the consolidated planning process and requirements for CDBG and HOME grantees. It will cover the citizen participation plan, public input consultation requirements, and the preparation of the plan. It will also touch on how to address equity and inclusion in the process. Most importantly, it will help communities understand their responsibilities regarding the use of federal funds. The course will be held from 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm EDT on August 3, 10, and 12. The registration fee is $150 for NCDA members and $250 for non-members. A 15% discount will be applied to the registration fee for communities that register 5 or more people. The course is eligible for 6 AICP maintenance credits. Please go here to register. 

CDC Extends National Eviction Moratorium for Final Time

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has extended the national eviction moratorium through July 31, 2021. According to the CDC, this will be the last time the moratorium will be extended. The moratorium was put in place last September during the height of the coronavirus pandemic to limit eviction filings. The White House wants more time to distribute the $21.5 billion in federal emergency rental assistance approved by Congress earlier this spring as part of the American Rescue Plan. The White House announced last week actions to help curb evictions once the national eviction moratorium is lifted including urging local housing court judges to require landlords to prove they have applied for federal aid before signing off on evictions. Another action includes a White House summit with local officials and legal aid organizations to discuss actions for minimizing evictions once the moratorium is lifted. Updated guidance (see below) from the Treasury Department is another action expected to help speed up the disbursement of the emergency rental assistance funding.

HUD Issues Interim AFFH Rule

On June 10, 2021, HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity issued an interim final rule and request for comments to restore certain definitions and certifications of the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule and to reinstate a process by which HUD will provide fair housing planning assistance to HUD grantees. The interim rule does not require a particular type of fair housing planning requirement for grantees, but HUD is expected to issue another rule for comment that will build on the fair housing planning process outlined in the 2015 rule. For now, HUD grantees must certify they are taking actions to affirmatively further fair housing. Grantees may, but are not required at this time, to develop an Analysis of Impediments or Assessment of Fair Housing to meet their certification requirements. HUD will offer technical assistance to jurisdictions that want to develop an Assessment of Fair Housing, Analysis of Impediments, or other fair housing planning activity. HUD also plans to restore the local government and PHA AFFH data and mapping tool, the AFFH Rule Guidebook, and the Fair Housing Planning Guide for jurisdictions that may want to use these resources in their fair housing planning.

The interim rule goes into effect on July 31, 2021.

HUD Proposes Reinstatement of the 2013 Disparate Impact Rule

On June 25, 2021, HUD issued a proposed rule outlining its intent to reinstate the 2013 disparate impact rule issued during the Obama Administration. According to HUD, the 2013 rule sets a more appropriately balanced standard for pleading, proving, and defending a fair housing case alleging a policy or practice has a discriminatory practice. HUD now proposes to recodify the 2013 Rule’s discriminatory effects standard and invites comments on this proposal. HUD believes the 2013 Rule is preferable to the 2020 Rule proposed by the Trump Administration which threatened to weaken the Fair Housing Act’s intent, specifically, the Act’s discriminatory effects doctrine. HUD believes the 2013 Rule is more consistent with judicial precedent construing the Fair Housing Act.

Treasury Department Releases New Guidance on Emergency Rental Assistance Program

On June 25, 2021, the Treasury Department released updated guidance on the Emergency Rental Assistance Program to help program recipients spend their funds. The guidance includes an updated set of FAQs and a fact sheet that outlines the new changes. Some of the changes include:

  • Streamlining the payment process for large landlords and utility providers by allowing grantees to make “bulk” payments.
  • Encouraging partnerships between grantees and local courts to develop eviction diversion programs to provide eviction prevention services, such as tenant-landlord mediation services, and housing stability services.
  • Allowing people experiencing homelessness to access the ERA funds to pay for security deposits and up to six-months of rental assistance.

HOME-ARP Webinar Series

HUD’s Office of Affordable Housing Programs (OAHP) is hosting a webinar series to assist HOME participating jurisdictions in planning for their allocation of HOME-ARP funding in advance of HUD publishing an implementing notice for the program, expected this Fall. HUD will hold its first HOME-ARP webinar on Homeless Systems Overview, tomorrow, Thursday, July 1, from 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm ET. Please go here to be added to the registration waitlist. If you are unable to participate in the webinar, materials will be posted on the HUD Exchange following the webinar.

HOME Monitoring Webinar Series Posted

A HOME monitoring webinar series hosted by HUD in early spring is now available online. The webinar series covered the HOME monitoring exhibits in the CPD Monitoring Handbook.

CDBG-CV Broadband Quick Guide

HUD’s Office of Block Grant Assistance (OBGA) has released a guide for grantees on how CDBG-CV and CDBG funds can be used to support broadband access, including infrastructure development, installation of wired and wireless connections, hardware and software purchases, training and digital literacy classes, economic development assistance to businesses, and construction of computer rooms for after-school programs.

CDBG-CV Public Facilities Quick Guide

HUD has released a guide to help grantees select and implement CDBG-CV funded public facilities and infrastructure projects.

CDBG-CV Tool Kit

HUD has categorized and organized all CDBG-CV specific guidance into a single Tool Kit to provide grantees with easy access to all program requirements.

CDBG CARES Act Webinar on Economic Development

HUD will host a webinar on July 8, from 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm EDT, to provide an overview of CDBG-CV eligible economic development related activities and discuss how CDBG-CV and other funds can be used to address the economic development needs of communities impacted by COVID-19. Please go here to register for the webinar.

CPD Income Eligibility Calculator Updated with New Income Limits

The CPD income eligibility calculator has been updated to reflect the FY 2021 income limits. The income limits became effective on June 1, 2021 for all CPD programs except for ESG for which the FY 2021 income limits became effective on April 1, 2021.

Updated ESG IDIS Guidance

HUD has updated its guidebook on “Using IDIS Online for the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) Program.” The updates include a new section that incorporates Section 3 reporting requirements for shelter activities and a new section that identifies specific IDIS updates for ESG-CV grants.

Continuum of Care (CoC) and ESG Training Materials Available

New CoC and ESG virtual training binders are now available to program recipients. The virtual binders provide comprehensive, online training on the CoC and ESG programs that cover the following program areas: eligible activities, environmental review, grant administration, homeless eligibility, match requirements, leasing and rental assistance, UFA requirements, rent calculation, program components, and other program requirements.

Vicki Watson

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