HUD Programs to Receive Significant Financial Assistance Under CARES Act
A number of provisions of the CARES Act are applicable to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs.
Section 8 Housing Assistance
- The bill appropriates $1,250,000,000 in Section 8 tenant based rental assistance address coronavirus-related matters, including assistance to public housing authorities (PHAs) to maintain normal operations and take other necessary actions. $850 million of this amount is for Section 8 administrative and other PHA expenses, including mainstream vouchers.
- $400 million of the amount is for adjustments to calendar year 2020 Section 8 renewal allocations for PHAs that experience a coronavirus-related increase in per-unit costs so they can avoid terminating families from the program.
- The CARES Act authorizes HUD to define new eligible expenditures for Section 8 tenant-based assistance, in addition to currently authorized expenditures, to include “activities to support or maintain the health and safety of assisted individuals and families, and costs related to retention and support of participating owners.”
- The CARES Act appropriates an additional $1 billion for Section 8 project-based rental assistance.
- For both the tenant-based and project-based rental assistance programs, the CARES Act gives HUD broad statutory and regulatory waiver authority, applicable to funds under the CARES Act and, for tenant-based assistance only, the 2020 appropriations act. HUD may waive or specify alternate requirements, other than fair housing, nondiscrimination, labor standards and environmental requirements, upon a finding that such action is “necessary for the safe and effective administration of these funds … to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.”
Public Housing Assistance
- The CARES Act makes available $685 million in public housing operating funds for COVID-19 purposes, including to provide additional funds for PHAs to maintain normal operations and take other necessary actions while the public housing program is impacted by COVID-19.
- Amounts are to be distributed using the operating fund formula and, through December 31, 2020, all public housing capital and operating funds (other than any amounts in prior appropriations acts that are set-asides) can be used flexibly for any eligible capital or operating fund activities and for other expenses related to COVID-19, including supporting the health and safety of residents and activities to support education and child care for impacted families. HUD may extend this flexibility period for additional 12-month increments.
- As with the Section 8 program, the CARES Act gives broad statutory and regulatory waiver authority given to HUD with respect to all statutes or regulations connected to use of operating and capital funds including those appropriated under prior appropriations acts. HUD may waive or specify alternate requirements, except for fair housing, nondiscrimination, labor standards and environmental requirements, upon a finding that the action is “necessary for the safe and effective administration of these funds to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.”
Community Development Programs
- $5 billion in Community Development Block Grant Funds to respond to COVID-19.
- Grantees are able to prepare or modify their statement of activities using an expedited process, which may include public notice and comment periods of not less than 5 days.
- Virtual public hearings are allowed for all grants of CDBG funds so long as national or local health authorities recommend social distancing and limiting public gatherings.
- Broad waiver authority for the HUD Secretary for CARES and 2020 and 2019 CDBG appropriations funds to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19. The foregoing cannot involve waivers of fair housing, nondiscrimination, labor standards, or environmental requirements.
Other HUD programs
- $65 million in Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS with waiver flexibilities given to the HUD Secretary
- $4 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants/Emergency Solutions Grants.
- $50 million for Housing for the Elderly (Section 202).
- $15 million for Housing for Persons with Disabilities (Section 811).
- $2.5 million for fair housing activities related to COVID-19.
- $5 million for the HUD Office of Inspector General to conduct audits and investigations of projects and activities carried out with funds made available to HUD under the CARES Act.
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