Department of Housing and Urban Development News Briefs - December 2014

Monday, December 1, 2014

On Oct. 15, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released report that provides recommendations for federal rental assistance policy. “Creating Opportunity for Children: How Housing Location Can Make a Difference” indicates that federal rental assistance programs should provide greater opportunities for families to choose affordable housing outside extreme-poverty neighborhoods and that the programs should provide better access for families to low-poverty, safe communities with better-performing schools. Such HUD programs include the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program and Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance program. The report also states that federal, state and local agencies can make four sets of interrelated policy changes that would better help families in the HCV program to live in better locations. They are to create strong incentives for local and state housing agencies to achieve better location outcomes; modify policies that discourage families from living in lower-poverty communities; minimize jurisdictional barriers to families’ ability to choose to live in high-opportunity communities; and assist families in using vouchers to live in high-opportunity areas. The report is available at www.hudresourcecenter.com.

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HUD Secretary Julián Castro and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp announced Oct. 22 two HUD initiatives intended to help improve health conditions experienced in some North Dakota tribal homes, as well as concerns with a lack of affordable options available for low-income families. A total of $6 million in funding will be available for black-mold remediation on tribal lands, as well as HUD’s emergency waiver for fair market rents (FMRs) in nine western North Dakota counties. The announcement came after Castro’s visit to Williston, N.D., during which he examined the city’s rapid housing and infrastructure developments. Sen. Heitkamp previously sent a letter to Castro about HUD’s proposed FMRs for North Dakota, indicating her concern that the rates do not accurately reflect the state’s increasing population. By the end of 2014, HUD will make $6 million in competitive grants available for the Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG) program.

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On Oct. 30, HUD released a request for applications for cities seeking economic revitalization assistance through the National Resource Network. Applications will be accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis. Eligibility for the network is based on economic and demographic criteria, with approximately 275 cities identified as eligible to apply. HUD says in making decisions, the network will consider factors such as whether a city’s request has high-level executive sponsorship in the city government and whether the city government has enlisted other community stakeholders in its planning effort. The network is a part of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative and was funded with $10 million from HUD. The network is designed to overcome challenges related to economic development, community development and fiscal and operational issues, and includes strategic partners with experience and expertise in criminal justice, education, workforce development and other policy areas. There are eight pilot cities participating. They are Compton and Lynwood, Calif.; Kansas City, Kan.; Jackson and Meridian, Miss.; Miami, Fla.; Anderson, Ind.; and Fall River, Mass. HUD expect the network to provide on-the-ground assistance to dozens of eligible cities by 2016.

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On Sept. 30, HUD released the report, “Status of HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) Evaluation and Results to Date.” The evaluation assesses the performance of the RAD program. It includes a description of the status quo for public housing and how RAD transforms the public housing landscape; it studies the amount and types of resources available to improve the physical condition of a public housing property; examines what new opportunities RAD creates for public housing agencies (PHAs) to improve the physical and financial condition of public housing; assesses how RAD helps PHAs preserve those units over the long term; and evaluates the impact of RAD on residents. The report is available at www.hudresourcecenter.com.