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The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has accelerated hurricane relief efforts with 19 more administrative and regulatory waivers, the agency recently announced. The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) Program, Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) Program, and Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) Program are included in the waivers.

The agency’s state and local partners can access a waiver to expedite funds from these programs through a simplified process. According to an agency release, the simplified process includes:

  • 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, HUD will suspend a cap limiting CDBG expenditures for public services to 15 percent. HUD 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.

“The recent storms [Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria] are unprecedented, so it makes sense that our response be unprecedented as well,” said Neal Rackleff, assistant secretary for Community Planning and Development at HUD, in a statement. “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 package of waivers is one of the largest ever issued at once, according to the release.

Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

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