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Shaheen urges HUD to adjust process for community development grants

Overburdened municipalities struggle to assist nonprofits seeking federal funding

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is concerned inefficiencies at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are holding up the distribution of $5 billion in supplemental Community Development Block Grants appropriated for communities nationwide under the CARES Act.

Following a conference call earlier this month with New Hampshire housing officials and advocates, Sen. Shaheen sent a letter last Tuesday, July 21, to HUD, requesting it address a number of issues including HUD’s approval process and disbursement of funds to grantees, delayed guidance on the permissible use of the funds, and the need for a waiver to streamline the distribution of CDBG funds to nonprofits on the frontlines of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This funding, referred to as CDBG-CV, will support the expansion of community health facilities, child care centers, food banks and senior services in vulnerable communities,” wrote Shaheen.  “Therefore, I urge HUD to swiftly approve grantee supplemental amendment requests once they have been received and release CDBG-CV funds to grantees as soon as possible. I also request that HUD issue guidance promptly on the permissible uses of CDBG-CV funds so that grantees can put them to use quickly and effectively once they have been released by HUD.”

Under current guidance, nonprofit organizations in non-entitlement communities (entitlement communities include Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth, Rochester and Dover) are required to work through their local government to apply for CDBG-CV funds, administered in New Hampshire by the Community Development Finance Agency (CDFA). A municipality can also apply for these funds on behalf of a local nonprofit agency.

“Unfortunately, many of New Hampshire’s municipalities have been heavily burdened due to their response to the COVID-19 pandemic and are facing significant administrative challenges,” wrote Shaheen. “Many municipalities simply do not have the capacity at this time to support local nonprofits in applying for CDBG-CV funds. Therefore, I request that HUD issue a temporary waiver to allow nonprofit organizations to apply directly to statewide grantees like the CDFA without needing to go through their local government to access CDBG-CV funds.”

In closing, Senator Shaheen urged HUD Secretary Carson to make addressing these concerns surrounding CDBG-CV funds and similar housing resources a top priority considering the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on vulnerable communities, especially since New Hampshire’s moratorium on evictions was lifted and expanded federal unemployment insurance is set to expire on July 31, 2020.

In a related move, earlier this month, Shaheen sent a letter to HUD, calling on the agency to expedite the release of $4 billion of CARES Act funding for emergency housing. In addition, Shaheen is a cosponsor of the Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act of 2020, legislation that would establish an Emergency Rental Assistance program to provide $100 billion in emergency rental assistance to help families and individuals pay their rent and remain housed during and after the Covid-19 crisis.