The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today released several model programs designed to help communities get Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds more expeditiously to residents struggling to rebuild, repair or restore their homes. These program designs can be adapted to a locality's unique needs and readily implemented so each community does not have to develop entire new programs on their own.
"Providing these ready-made programs to communities will help them get resources where they are needed more effectively and efficiently," said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, who also serves as Chair of the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force. "We are committed to working with our federal, state, local and tribal partners to get assistance to families who are struggling to rebuild as quickly as possible."
The Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, signed into law by President Obama on January 29, included $16 billion in CDBG-DR funding. HUD announced the first allocation totaling $5.4 billion to five states and the City of New York eight days later. HUD will announce additional allocations in the coming months. HUD has worked closely with state and local partners to identify opportunities to expedite this assistance.
The model programs announced today cover three likely areas of need that communities would use CDBG-DR funding to meet:
Housing Rehabilitation: HUD has also developed a model of a program that would get CDBG-DR funds to homeowners to help them repair and rehabilitate their homes.
Housing Counseling: HUD is releasing a program guide that will support state and local governments using CDBG-DR funding to help affected homeowners connect with a reliable housing counselor in order to navigate the affordable options to rebuild, repair or relocate. More than 100 HUD-approved housing counseling agencies, with proper training and support, are available to help homeowners assess what they can afford, negotiate with insurance and mortgage companies, apply for affordable home repair loans and grants, and get their finances and their home stable and secure. With an investment of CDBG-DR funds, housing counselors would be able to provide this service free to homeowners and be an important safeguard against scammers that are unfortunately taking advantage of an already vulnerable population.
Housing Buyouts: Buying out homeowners in particularly flood-prone areas can be a cost-effective option to reduce future risk. The model program announced today reflects the potential importance of such programs and the need to ensure that any such process is locally driven.
These programs could be funded with the first round of CDBG-DR funding or with subsequent rounds and could be used by state, local and county governments applying for CDBG-DR funding. HUD has worked closely with a range of federal, state and local stakeholders to develop these programs and is committed to working with them as needed to help communities meet their unique needs.