Rental assistance to tenants—42 U.S.C. 5305 is modified to permit rental assistance for up to 24 months State of Louisiana only.

FAQ#: 77 published 2-23-2019

Rental assistance to tenants—42 U.S.C. 5305(a)(8) is modified to permit rental assistance for up to 24 months (State of Louisiana only).

The Department has received a request from the State of Louisiana to provide up to 24 months of tenant-based rental assistance (TBRA) to households impacted by a covered disaster when those households do not meet the definition of a “displaced person” under the URA. Existing CDBG regulations allow these payments to cover rent and utilities for a short period of time as a public service activity under 42 U.S.C. 5305(a)(8), but these payments cannot extend for so long that they no longer qualify as an eligible public service activity. Following a disaster, however, households may be forced to abandon their residences and may be unable to return if the damage to the units have made them uninhabitable. Furthermore, scarcity of affordable replacement units in the recovery period following a disaster, and security and utility deposits can further exacerbate affordability concerns for tenants. This waiver and alternative requirement will provide additional time to stabilize persons or households in permanent housing and is consistent with the goal of preventing homelessness.

Due to the severe flooding that occurred in 2016, the housing stock and shelters in several parishes of the State were severely damaged or destroyed. The State notes that thousands of families continue to be doubled up with family and friends, facing eviction, in temporary housing conditions, including FEMA trailers that will be removed or have rents increased in the near future. The damage from the flooding diminished the opportunities for homeless or at-risk persons or households to independently establish re-housing. This waiver and alternative requirement will provide additional time to stabilize persons or households in permanent housing. The goal of this waiver and alternative requirement is to prevent homelessness and provide additional time to stabilize persons or households in permanent housing along with supportive services. In developing the policies and procedures for the Rapid Rehousing program, the State must list the services to be provided and outline a referral process that will enable the targeted households to apply to live in affordable housing units, including those that are created under other CDBG-DR funded programs.

The use of CDBG-DR funds for this purpose advances the Department's priority to support forward-thinking solutions to help communities that are struggling to house and serve persons and families that are homeless or at risk of homelessness as a result of a disaster. For the reasons above, HUD is expanding the definition of public service at 42 U.S.C. 5305(a)(8) to include the following activity: Provision of rental assistance to disaster-impacted households for up to 24 months. This activity is subject to the 15 percent cap on public services.

In implementing this waiver and alternative requirement, the State must document in its policies and procedures how it will determine that the amount of assistance to be provided is necessary and reasonable and not duplicative of any other funding source, including insurance. Additionally, the State is reminded that any rental assistance provided by FEMA must first be exhausted prior to providing CDBG-DR funds for this purpose. Eligible assistance includes rental assistance and utility payments and may also include rental costs (i.e., security deposits and utility deposits) when the grantee determines that such payments are necessary and reasonable to help prevent a household from being homeless.

A homeowner receiving any form of CDBG-DR interim mortgage assistance that may be offered by the State is not eligible for rental assistance as authorized by this section. This waiver and alternative requirement shall expire on September 30, 2022.

 

Research Resources: 

Waivers, Alternative Requirements and Extensions for Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Grantees.

A Notice by the Housing and Urban Development Department on 02/19/2019

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