At a Glance
- The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced appropriations of $83.84 million in Community Development Block Grant for Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds to Hawai‘i County to support disaster relief, long-term recovery, and restoration of infrastructure, housing and economic revitalization.
- A notice in the Federal Register allocating more than $3.8 billion in CDBG-DR funds, including the County's portion, was published Jan. 27, 2020.
- The County has until Aug. 31 to submit an Action Plan that details disaster impacts, unmet needs, and identified projects.
- CDBG-DR funds will be awarded following approval of the County’s Action Plan and execution of a Grant Agreement with HUD.
- Potential uses of the funds include a voluntary buyout program for properties impacted by the eruption, in addition to other forms of housing assistance, infrastructure, and economic assistance.
- The notice published in the Federal Register requires grant recipients to "primarily consider and address its unmet housing recovery needs." Funds may be used for unmet economic revitalization and infrastructure that is not related to housing if there is no remaining unmet housing need.
- HUD prohibits use of CDBG-DR funds for housing construction and infrastructure that directly supports housing in lava zones 1 and 2.
- The County will have six years to spend the funds.
A presidential major disaster declaration allows HUD to provide flexible grants to help cities, counties and states recover from disasters. CDBG-DR funds are subject to the availability of supplemental appropriations by Congress and have restrictions as to use. HUD can allocate the funds via the State of Hawaiʻi or directly to the affected counties.
- Grantees go through a rigorous application process prior to receiving CDBG-DR funds, including the development of a HUD-approved Action Plan.
- The County of Hawaiʻi is writing the Action Plan in collaboration with expert consultants and will put forward a draft for a required public review and comment period prior to submission.
- The Action Plan takes into account feedback received throughout the recovery process, including recommendations by the Puna Community Development Plan Action Committee and input received via public and online forums.
HUD has broad power to set restrictions on how the funds can be spent. Sometime after the CDBG-DR allocation is announced, HUD issues the program rules, regulations and guidelines in a Federal Register Notice. The notice was published Jan. 27 and went into effect Feb. 3. Following the notice, the County must prepare:
- A Certification Plan, which shows that the state or local government has the systems and processes in place to manage grant funds and guard against duplication of benefits, fraud and abuse.
- An Implementation Plan, which details that the state or local government has a plan to build the additional staffing capacity needed to implement the grant funds.
- Delivery of the Action Plan, which details the disaster impacts, unmet needs, programs and projects identified for grant implementation.
- Public Comment Period. The recipient is required to make the Action Plan available for public review and comment.
- Action Plan Approval. HUD must accept and approve the Action Plan.
- Grant Agreement. The awardee and HUD execute a grant agreement detailing disbursement of grant funds.
- DRGR Plan. A detailed spending plan is uploaded to HUD's grant management platform for approval prior to the initial expenditure of CDBG-DR funds.
The notice published Jan. 27, 2020, in the Federal Register includes the following requirements specific to the grant:
- Grant recipients must "primarily consider and address its unmet housing recovery needs." Funds may be used for unmet economic revitalization and infrastructure that is not related to housing if there is no remaining unmet housing need.
- A grantee may use up to 5% of the grant for grant administration and no more than 15% for planning activities.
- An Action Plan detailing use of the funds must include: Criteria for eligibility, and how use of the funds will address long-term recovery and restoration of infrastructure and housing, economic revitalization, and mitigation in the most impacted and distressed areas.
- To inform the plan, the County must conduct an assessment of community impacts and unmet needs.
- Additionally, the notice says HUD expects that grantees will "take steps to set in place substantial State and local governmental policies to enhance the impact of HUD-funded investments and limit the damage of future disasters." The notice requires grantees to describe how they plan to promote "sound, sustainable long-term planning."
Subject to limitations that may be set in the Federal Register Notice, specific examples of CDBG-DR projects may include:
- Housing recovery
- Restore, develop, replace, and/or improve housing (new construction, rehabilitation, single or multi-family, owner or rental);
- Provide other housing assistance services;
- Offer buyouts of damaged or threatened properties;
- Assist in relocation of persons and households;
- Senior or special needs housing.
- Rebuild or replace infrastructure and public facilities
- Roads, bridges, stormwater management systems;
- Waterlines, electric service;
- Community centers, schools, shelters, parks.
- Assistance to affected business owners
- Address job losses, impacts to tax revenues;
- Job training and workforce development;
- Loans and grants to businesses;
- Improvements to commercial and rental districts.
HUD policies consider a number of activities ineligible for the funds, including:
- If the project does not correspond to a disaster-related impact;
- Restrictions as identified in the appropriation law;
- Ineligible per CDBG regulations and existing HUD regulations unless waived by HUD.
- If the project does not meet national CDBG objectives;
- HUD policies prohibit use of CDBG-DR funds for housing construction and infrastructure that directly supports housing in lava zones 1 and 2.