DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY
AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Availability of the Draft 2020 Annual Action Plan; Public Hearing
[50 Pa.B. 2080]
[Saturday, April 18, 2020]
The Department of Community and Economic Development (Department) announces the availability of the Commonwealth's draft Federal Fiscal Year 2020 Annual Action Plan (Plan). The Plan is submitted to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as the annual application for Federal funds administered by the Commonwealth. The HUD funding programs covered by the Plan and administered by the Department are the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), the HOME Investment Partnership (HOME), the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) programs, Community Development Block Grant—Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) and Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP). Also covered by the Plan is the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program which the Department of Health administers and the National Housing Trust Fund (HTF) which is administered by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA).
This summary is designed to provide an opportunity for citizens, local governmental officials and interested organizations of the Commonwealth to comment about the Plan prior to its submission to HUD. Comments may be electronically submitted to the Department by e-mail to RA-DCEDcdbghomequestions@pa.gov. Written comments should be submitted to Megan L. Snyder, Center for Community and Housing Development, Department of Community and Economic Development, 400 North Street, 4th Floor, Commonwealth Keystone Building, Harrisburg, PA 17120-0225. Electronic and written comments must be received by 4 p.m. on Wednesday, May 20, 2020, to be included as testimony in the Plan. Note that the Plan has been updated to cover the Commonwealth's response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis and to provide the flexibility to our grantees to response to their individual needs. The affected Federal Community Planning and Development programs can only address these needs within the perimeters of their guidelines. The Department has requested and received approval of waivers as HUD has allowed but most of the requirements of the programs remain in place.
The Plan takes the strategy developed in the Consolidated Plan of 2019—2023 and applies it to the administration of the CDBG, HOME, ESG, CDBG-DR, NSP, HOPWA and HTF programs for 2020. HUD must approve the Plan for the Commonwealth to receive funding under the identified HUD programs.
The Plan will include the Methods of Distribution for all Federal programs, as well as the goals and outcomes expected during the 2020 calendar year. Besides the Department's web site http://dced.pa.gov, the approved Plan will be able to be viewed on HUD's web site at https://www.hudexchange.info/consolidated-plan/con-plans-aaps-capers/.
Allocations and major changes in the method of distribution for 2020 by program
The Department reserves the right to divert any recaptured funds and all uncommitted competitive funds to respond to State or Federally declared natural disasters or emergency declarations.
1. Maximum funding availability varies by HOME eligible activity.
a. Applicants seeking Existing Owner-Occupied Housing Rehabilitation and Homebuyer activities funding will be limited to a maximum of $500,000 as a town, borough or township. Cities and county applicants are limited to $750,000.
b. Applicants seeking rental housing and homebuyer—new construction activities will be limited to a maximum funding request of the per unit subsidy limits for the Metropolitan Statistical Area for the proposed activity.
2. All rental housing applicants must demonstrate matching contributions equal to 25% or greater for all HOME rental projects. Eligible match contributions may include cash contributions from non-Federal sources, value of donated property, forbearance of fees, cost of onsite infrastructure improvements directly required for the HOME-assisted project and other eligible sources more specifically detailed in 24 CFR 92.220 (relating to form of matching contribution).
3. Rental housing developments funded by the Department competitive process will be limited to projects consisting of less than 10 total units. All other rental housing activities, for 10 units and above, may be submitted to PHFA and following PHFA's Penn HOMES application process.
4. A Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO) can receive up to 50% of its annual operating budget or $50,000, whichever is greater as CHDO operating funds. (Note: The Department HOME Program has capped all CHDO operating assistance at $100,000 per CHDO Set-Aside project per current round.)
1. Remove the Department minimum allocation percentage for the rapid rehousing activity (40%).
2. No more than 60% of the annual Federal allocation may be used for emergency shelter activities (including operations, essential services and street outreach).
3. Remove the Department maximum of 20% of allocation for emergency shelter activities (operations, essential services and street outreach) and remove cap of operational support as a percentage of overall operating budget.
4. Allow Federal direct-entitlement ESG grantees to seek funding in these years for either rapid rehousing activities or homeless prevention activities. Rapid rehousing must still represent at least 40% of the overall use of ESG funds for direct entitlement communities only.
5. Each applicant must demonstrate coordination of their efforts with the local Continuum of Care priorities.
6. Regional activities must benefit service areas greater than one county.
7. Funding target—housing locator services
Housing locator services focus on services or activities necessary to assist program participants in locating, obtaining and retaining suitable permanent housing and increasing housing stability and self-sufficiency. Services should include: assessment, arranging, coordinating, housing stability plan development; with an emphasis on acting as a liaison to secure and maintain housing; employment; a connection to mainstream resources and services; coordination with other providers; monitoring of progress; and advocating on behalf of the client. Services should also focus on building a set of supports that can help prevent the recurrence of a housing crisis.
8. The Department will grant award amounts based on the evaluations until all grant funds are awarded. Applicants who have previously returned funds will receive a reduction of 25 points on their application.
9. ESG funds may become available for reallocation as a result of poor grantee performance, voluntary returns, funds returned at the end of the contract period, repayment of ineligible expenses or HUD approved reallocation of expired funds. The Department will utilize its Reallocation Policy to allocate available funds.
Beginning in 2020, the Department of Health is no longer the Alternate Grantee for the HUD HOPWA funding for the Bensalem Township EMSA. The City of Philadelphia, Division of Community and Planning Development is now the Alternate Grantee for the 2020 HUD HOPWA funding and going forward.
HTF—To Be Determined—Allocations for 2020 have not been released. An amendment to the Plan will be made once that happens and any changes in the method of distribution will be discussed.
Modification to the citizen participation process for the consolidated plan and action plan
Other special project grants or emergency declaration:
In the event that other Federal special programs are awarded to the Commonwealth or if an emergency declaration is made that affects the administration of the existing Federal programs, that are authorized under the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, as amended, Cranston-Gonzales National Affordable Housing Act of 1990, as amended, or McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987, as amended, or both, and administered by the Department, the citizen participation requirements will be followed in accordance with either the statute or regulations set forth in the program. If HUD may allow for or provides opportunities to request waivers to specific elements of the citizen participation process the Department will determine whether a waiver is necessary and seek use of the waiver authority in accordance with information provided by HUD. Once the waiver is granted by HUD to the Commonwealth, the special conditions will be passed to its grantees, if necessary, to streamline the citizen participation process in accordance with the regulations in place.
To take advantage of the granted waiver authority, the grantee must amend their Citizen Participation Plan to meet the minimum standards included in the waiver if the required action is not already covered in their Citizen Participation Plan.
Amendment—4-2020—CARES ACT Authorization:
Emergency declaration citizen participation and expedited modification process:
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) allows for a grantee to adopt and use expedited procedures to prepare, propose, modify or amend its statement of activities to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 and FY 2020 grant and new CARES funding related to the use of funding to address emerging COVID-19 response. As long as National or local health authorities recommend social distancing and limiting public gatherings for public health reasons, Grantees do not need to hold in-person public hearings but ''shall provide citizens with notice and a reasonable opportunity to comment of no less than 5 calendar days. A grantee may create virtual public hearings to fulfill applicable hearing requirements for all grants from funds made available under this law.'' Any virtual hearing ''shall provide reasonable notification and access for citizens in accordance with the grantee's certifications, timely responses from local officials to all citizen questions and issues, and public access to all questions and responses.''
Public Review and Comment
The Plan is available on the Internet or electronically for public comment from April 18, 2020, through May 19, 2020.
Comments may be electronically submitted to the Department by e-mail to RA-DCEDcdbghomequestions@pa.gov. Written comments should be submitted to Megan L. Snyder, Center for Community and Housing Development, Department of Community and Economic Development, 400 North Street, 4th Floor, Commonwealth Keystone Building, Harrisburg, PA 17120-0225. Written comments must be received by 4 p.m on Tuesday, May 19, 2020, to be included as testimony in the Plan.
The public hearing for the Plan will be conducted electronically, by means of the Internet/conference call on Thursday, April 30, 2020. The public hearing by means of the Internet/conference call will be held at 1:30 p.m. and will last as long as there are comments to be received. This more widely available computer access/conference call will replace the onsite public hearing. The format will be more accessible than an in-person meeting because those who wish to make comment or discuss policy may participate directly from their electronic device, telephone or from a computer located at their public library. Due to the COVID-19 crisis and to Governor Tom Wolf's decree to ''Stay Home,'' there will be no in-person availability for this public hearing.
Any individual or organization may give testimony or comments by means of the Internet, telephone or hardcopy. Comments will be accepted on the content of the Commonwealth's Plan for Federal Fiscal Year 2020 including the various changes to the method of distribution and the citizen participation process already previously outlined, and the process by which the public input is gathered. The Commonwealth encourages public participation in this process.
There is no registration, but individuals may join the meeting directly using the following methods:
Individuals can join the public hearing by going to Skype for business. The conference ID is 503865592.
Individuals can join the public hearing by phone at +1 (267) 332-8737. The dial-in number is 503865592#.
The hearing will be shortened if there is no one to testify or there is minimal response.
Persons with a disability or limited English proficiency who wish to participate in the public hearing should contact Megan L. Snyder, Department of Community Economic Development, RA-DCEDcdbghomequestions@pa.gov, (717) 720-7404, or TDD at (717) 346-0308 to discuss how the Department can accommodate their needs.
DENNIS M. DAVIN,
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 20-542. Filed for public inspection April 17, 2020, 9:00 a.m.]
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