HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD) posted on July 29 a Memorandum and two attachments providing additional guidance on preventing “Duplication of Benefits” (DOB) when using the $5 billion supplemental Community Development Block Grant funds (CDBG-CV) provided by the CARES Act. The Memorandum from CPD Acting Assistant Secretary John Gibbs dated July 13, indicates that it is the first in a series of resources that CPD intends to make available to help CDBG grantees (cities, counties, and states) prevent DOB. CPD had previously posted “CDBG COVID-19 Fact Sheet” on July 16 that contained significant DOB guidance (see Memo, 7/20).
One of the attachments, “CARES Act Programs through SBA, FEMA, IRS, Treasury, USDA, and HHS for CDBG Grantee Awareness for Duplication of Benefits,” summarizes other federal coronavirus-related resources (primarily those funded under the CARES Act), such as Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds and the $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) administered by the Department of the Treasury. The other attachment, “Summary of Primary CDBG Activity Categories to Support Coronavirus,” is designed primarily for entities and individuals unfamiliar with the CDBG program. The summary explains the range of possible uses of CDBG-CV funds. Absent from this summary is an indication that CDBG may be used to make emergency rent, utilities, and mortgage payments for up to three consecutive months. CPD has known from the earliest days of the pandemic that advocates and many grantees have wanted to use CDBG-CV for emergency rental assistance. Q13 of the “CDBG COVID-19 Fact Sheet,” however, reaffirms that using CDBG-CV as well as FY19 and FY20 regular CDBG funds for emergency rental assistance is an eligible activity (see Memo, 7/20).
The CARES Act requires HUD to ensure adequate procedures are in place to prevent any DOB as required by section 312 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. Consequently, CPD requires grantees to have procedures to prevent duplication of benefits when it provides financial assistance with CDBG-CV funds. In short, DOB means that the federal assistance has not or will not be paid by another source and that the assistance does not exceed the need for assistance. The Memorandum clarifies that private, unsubsidized loans are not generally considered when assessing DOB.
Because a grantee may need more than one funding source for an activity to meet all local needs, CPD writes that grantees may provide CDBG-CV assistance to meet needs that remain after considering other financial assistance for an activity. CPD urges grantees to strategically consider the appropriate uses of available funding sources as well as the timing of the availability of various sources for the same or similar purposes.
The Memorandum closes by stating that CPD will provide more specific information about how to comply with DOB, beginning with a webinar for all CDBG-CV grantees covering the resources in the attachments. Following this webinar, CPD will release additional technical assistance in the form of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), follow-up webinars, and other resources covering the process of preventing DOB. One planned resource will be for grantee decision-makers and staff. NLIHC has requested to be added to the webinars for grantees so that NLIHC can pass along to Memo readers and other advocates the guidance provided to grantees.
The CPD Memorandum is at: https://bit.ly/311Ez7c
“CDBG COVID-19 Fact Sheet” is at: https://bit.ly/30dezqt
More information about CDBG is on page 8-3 of NLIHC’s 2020 Advocates’ Guide.