Following Conference Call with NH Housing Advocates & Officials, Shaheen Raises CARES Act Implementation and Guidance Concerns with HUD Secretary
**Shaheen’s letter comes in response to concerns she heard from New Hampshire housing officials and advocates earlier this month.**
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) sent a letter this week to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), requesting that it address a number of concerns related to the supplemental Community Development Block Grants (CDBG-CV) appropriated under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Congress included a supplemental appropriation of $5 billion for the CDBG program, funding intended to assist communities with their response to the devastating pandemic. Shaheen’s letter comes in response to concerns she heard from New Hampshire housing officials and advocates earlier this month regarding CDBG-CV funding and guidance. In Shaheen’s letter, she raises numerous issues, including HUD’s approval process and disbursement of these funds to grantees, delayed guidance on the permissible use of these funds, and the need for a waiver to streamline the distribution of CDBG-CV funds to non-profits on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shaheen wrote, “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. 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.”
She continued, “Additionally, under current guidance, local governments in non-entitlement communities that do not receive CDBG funds directly are charged with applying to the statewide agency that administers those funds. A municipality can also apply for these funds on behalf of a local non-profit agency. In New Hampshire, the Community Development Finance Agency (CDFA) administers the statewide CDBG program. Currently, non-profit organizations in non-entitlement communities are required to work through their local government to apply for CDBG-CV funds from CDFA. 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. Many municipalities simply do not have the capacity at this time to support local non-profits in applying for CDBG-CV funds. Therefore, I request that HUD issue a temporary waiver to allow non-profit 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 our most 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. Her letter can be read in full here.
Senator Shaheen has worked to protect Granite State homeowners and renters left vulnerable by the public health emergency. 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. Shaheen also recently led a bipartisan letter to Senate leadership urging a fix for a “maximum allotment” provision that limits the amount of CARES Act relief funds that can be awarded to smaller states through the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) program. These funds are used by Community Action Programs (CAPs) to help combat homelessness and address housing needs.