The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced a package of 19 regulatory and administrative waivers aimed at helping communities to accelerate their recovery from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. While HUD granted a number of individual waivers following disasters in the past, today’s announcement represents one of the largest collections of regulatory and administrative waivers ever issued by the department at one time.
“The recent storms are unprecedented, so it makes sense that our response be unprecedented as well,” said Neal Rackleff, assistant secretary for community planning and development. “We must be as flexible as we possibly can to help our state and local partners at a time they need our help the most.”
The regulatory and administrative relief announced today covers the following HUD programs: The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, HOME Investment Partnerships Program, Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) Program, and the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) Program. To expedite the use of these funds, HUD’s state and local partners can now access a waiver through a new simplified notification process. HUD’s flexibilities include:
HUD is allowing for an abbreviated public comment requirement on changes to a grantee’s community redevelopment plans. Upon notification, HUD will reduce the customary 30-day comment period to seven days. This temporary allowance balances the need to help local communities more quickly while continuing to provide reasonable notice and opportunity for citizens to comment on the proposed uses of funds.
Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria destroyed communications networks, particularly in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Therefore, HUD is waiving the normal communication requirements and allowing these grantees to determine what constitutes reasonable notice and opportunity to comment.
These hurricanes also caused extensive damage and destruction to the housing stock in certain impacted areas. To accelerate new housing construction, HUD is suspending normal rules to enable CDBG grantees to replace affordable housing units that were lost as a result of the hurricanes and flooding.
HUD recognizes that affected citizens may require additional time and effort to execute their recovery plans. Consequently, it will suspend a cap limiting CDBG expenditures for public services to 15 percent. The department will temporarily allow CDBG grantees to pay for additional support services for individuals and families affected by the hurricanes.
Services could include, but not be limited to, the provision of food, emergency shelter, case management and related services to help residents in declared-disaster areas until long-term recovery resources become available.