The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) 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 after earlier disasters, HUD says the latest announcement is 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," says Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development Neal Rackleff. "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 relief covers the following HUD programs:
- The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program
- HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) Program
- Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) Program
- Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) Program.
To expedite the use of funds, HUD says that state and local partners can access a waiver through a new simplified notification process.
HUD's latest relief efforts
- HUD is allowing 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.
- 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.
- The hurricanes also caused extensive damage and destruction to the housing stock in certain impacted areas. To accelerate 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 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.
HUD offers more info online about the regulatory and administrative changes.