March 2013 Featured Article
FINDINGS OF REPORT MAY SIGNIFICANTLY IMPACT HUD GRANT PROGRAMS
Almost all communities, large and small, have been the recipients of a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant. Whether it is through the Community Development Block Grant Program, Housing Grants, Tax Credits or other program mechanisms, communities depend on HUD funding to meet a number of their community development needs.
In a report prepared by the Poverty & Race Research Action Council (PRRAC) and released in January 2013, a comprehensive review was offered of HUD’s programs and policies as they relate to the department’s mandate to provide “fair housing”. The report examined nine broad program areas at HUD, plus the Low Income Tax Credit Program. The recommendations of the report may have a significant impact on how HUD grants are managed and how its programs are implemented. Some notable findings of the report are as follows.
The HUD 2010-2015 Strategic Plan focused on promoting more inclusive sustainable communities and the choices open to families seeking rentals and other types of housing. This initiative will mean that more attention will be given to how counties and municipalities address their Analyses of Impediments, (AI’s) as part of their HUD Program and Grant Implementation.
According to its 2010 NOFA, HUD Competitive Grants must address grantees plans to achieve results in four key areas: 1) Reducing Racial Segregation; 2) Eliminating any Vestiges of De Jure Segregation (that segregation which may in the past have been imposed by law); 3) Promoting Opportunities in Mixed Income Communities; and 4) Reducing Concentrations of Poverty. Communities that find ways to address these HUD goals successfully will also be those more likely to receive future competitive HUD Grant Awards.
Sustainable Community Grantees will be increasingly obligated to address issues of segregation and poverty and to devise ways that fair housing goals can be achieved.
The Section 8 Program was particularly examined by PRRAC and found to be lacking in that program vouchers typically steer low income families to areas where economic and other opportunities are limited. HUD may be in the process of finding ways to increase the “portability” of such vouchers to allow for broader access to a range of neighborhoods and communities. The same goals pertain to fair market rent subsidies, implementation of the Rental Assistance Demonstration Program (RAD) and others.
Baltimore County, Maryland was cited in the report as a flagship model for its housing mobility program which encourages the disbursement of low income families throughout the region. In a landmark court case, Thompson v. HUD, an agreement was reached to end decades of discriminatory housing practices in Baltimore County. (See http://www.naacpldf.org/press-release/baltimore-public-housing-families-applaud-settlement-fair-housing-lawsuit-hearing for more detail.)
“Choice Neighborhoods” program grantees are also under pressure to diversify the locations for new housing projects. The report states its primary concern was that “none of the five current Choice Neighborhood implementation sites will be built outside of their target neighborhoods”, raising concerns that the program would foster a continuation of segregated housing practices. Similar scrutiny was applied to HUD’s “Moving to Work” and “Low Income Housing Tax Credit” programs.
The bottom line for grantees is clear. HUD is giving serious consideration to how it can address and strengthen its commitment to fair housing. Communities that stay abreast of these issues and successfully address the goals and vision of HUD programs are those that will likely be the beneficiaries of future HUD Grants.
The PRRAC Report concluded by stating: “HUD’s new regulatory efforts, while not without their problems and shortfalls, demonstrate an encouraging trend within the administration to focus on equality, inclusion and the statutory duty to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing”.
For more information on the PRRAC Report, see http://www.ushrnetwork.org/resources-media/affirmatively-furthering-fair-housing-hud-first-term-report-card-poverty-race
Triad Associates is currently the League’s Grant Consulting Firm. Their firm, which is known for its expertise in community and economic development, including strategic planning, redevelopment, acquisition, relocation and funding, has brought diverse plans and projects to life by generating more than $580,000,000 for over 120 public, private and nonprofit clients throughout the Northeast region since 1978. Every member of the Triad team is personally committed and dedicated to the success of its clients and the projects that benefit communities.