HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development published a notice in the Federal Register on June 3 requesting public comment regarding the interim Emergency Solutions Grants program regulations that have been in effect since January 4, 2012.
On December 5, 2011, HUD published an interim rule implementing changes that the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing Act of 2009 (HEARTH) made to the Emergency Shelter Grants program, including renaming it the Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) program (see Memo, 11/18/11). Now HUD is requesting comments from interested parties based on their experience with the interim rule. HUD will use the feedback to issue a final ESG rule.
The Hearth Act broadened the emergency shelter and homelessness prevention activities of ESG, adding short- and medium-term rental assistance and services to rapidly re-house people experiencing homelessness. In the Federal Register notice, HUD states that the HEARTH Act change in the program’s name reflects the change in the program’s focus from addressing the needs of homeless people in emergency or transitional shelters to assisting people to quickly regain stability in permanent housing after experiencing a housing crisis or becoming homeless.
The extensive notice has three sections. The first seeks comments about key definitions such as “emergency shelter.” The second section requests feedback about seven issues pertaining to data and information sought by the homeless needs assessment component of the Consolidated Plan. Seven additional Consolidated Plan-related topics are raised.
The third section of the notice contains 19 topics pertaining to the ESG program regulations. One topic relates to HUD’s goal of encouraging ESG recipients to spend more of their funds on rapid-re-housing. HUD seeks feedback regarding potential requirements or incentives in the final rule that could result in recipients focusing more on rapid re-housing.
Another topic concerns the Street Outreach and Emergency Shelter components of the ESG regulations. The notice requests input regarding nine issues, such as:
- Who can receive essential services, and should there be a standard for determining which essential services are “unavailable” or “inaccessible”?
- Under what conditions should day shelters be eligible for funding?
- Should there be a requirement prohibiting ESG recipients from denying services or shelter under the Emergency Shelter and Street Outreach component based on whether their last permanent resident was in the recipient’s jurisdiction?
The remaining 17 topics, each with subtopics, include:
- Defining “rapid” and “as quickly as possible” in the rapid re-housing component,
- Housing relocation and stabilization services,
- Short-term and medium-term rental assistance,
- Administrative activities and indirect costs,
- Submission requirements and grant approval for joint agreements,
- Matching requirements,
- Obligation, expenditure, and payment requirements,
- Pre-award costs,
- Area-wide systems coordination requirements for consultation and coordination,
- Area-wide systems coordination requirements for coordinated assessment,
- Area-wide systems coordination requirements for written standards for recipients,
- Evaluation of program participant eligibility and needs,
- Shelter and housing standards,
- Conflicts of interest,
- Other federal requirements regarding limiting eligibility and targeting,
- Recordkeeping and reporting requirements, and
- Recipient sanctions.
Comments are due on August 3. The Federal Register notice is at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-06-03/pdf/2015-13485.pdf