HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) posted on April 3 Section 3 frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding implementation of Section 3 in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
The purpose of Section 3 of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968 is to ensure that, when HUD funds are used to assist housing and community development projects, “to the greatest extent feasible” preference for some of the jobs, training, and contracting opportunities that are created go to low-income people and to businesses owned or controlled by low-income people or to businesses that hire them. PHAs and jurisdictions using Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnerships program, and other HUD funds must comply with Section 3 and ensure that contractors and subcontractors also comply.
Question 2 of the April 3 FAQs states that Section 3 compliance obligations are not waived as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. FHEO encourages public housing agencies (PHAs) and local and state governments to follow the directives of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and state and local guidelines. If Section 3-covered HUD funding recipients are engaging in Section 3-related hiring or contracting during this time, however, those recipients are still required to meet the Section 3 compliance requirements.
Question 5 states that a recipient not meeting the Section 3 Safe Harbor goals must demonstrate why it was not feasible to meet the goals and identify any impediments they may have encountered. Therefore, if restrictions were placed on a recipient as a result of coronavirus that impeded them from achieving the goals, the recipient must annotate the restrictions and any efforts made to overcome those restrictions in their reports.
Question 6 reminds Section 3-covered recipients that they are still required to provide notice of Section 3 opportunities. FHEO understands that Section 3-covered recipients may not be able to provide notice of Section 3 opportunities in conventional ways due to the coronavirus pandemic. FHEO encourages the use of virtual or online notifications, such as telephone blast messages, text message notifications, email notifications, Facebook advertisements, other social media advertisements (such as Twitter/Instagram/etc.), and YouTube videos.
Question 1 stresses that state and local laws do not supersede federal laws, such as Section 3. A conflict with a state or local law designating a coronavirus emergency would only exist if a state or local law (or emergency order) prohibited recipients and/or their subrecipients, contractors, or subcontractors from hiring or contracting consistent with their Section 3 obligations. If Section 3-covered recipients encounter state or local laws they believe to be in conflict with Section 3, FHEO encourages them to consult with FHEO staff at [email protected].
The Section 3 coronavirus-related FAQs are at: https://bit.ly/2JAxh2b