On November 1, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Acting Inspector General Helen Albert testified before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations regarding the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Relief (CDBG-DR) funding program.
Congress allocates billions in funding to HUD through the CDBG-DR program for necessary expenses related to natural disasters relief, long-term recovery, restoration of infrastructure and housing, and economic revitalization. Funds are awarded to state and local governments which are then allocated to government agencies, non-profit organizations, citizens and businesses.
During her testimony, Acting Inspector General Albert remarked that HUD faces significant challenges monitoring funds provided to various grantees, including states and localities. She also stated that oversight is made more difficult due to the diverse nature of projects, and the fact that some are long-term, taking over five to ten years to complete. Additionally, Albert shared four main issues HUD encounters with administering CDBG-DR funds:
- Ensuring that expenditures are eligible and supported;
- Certifying that grantees are following procurement regulations;
- Conducting consistent sufficient and efficient monitoring efforts on funds; and
- Addressing concerns that citizens encounter when seeking assistance
HUD has developed a series of integrity bulletins aimed at providing grantees with information to help safeguard program funds and to ensure communities get the full benefit of funding. Albert noted that HUD needs additional staff devoted to disaster recovery to provide better guidance and oversight. She also recommended that Congress instruct HUD to formally codify a single disaster recovery program to ensure a permanent formal framework for future disasters.
NACo will continue to monitor congressional and/or administrative developments regarding the CDBG-DR program, which provides critical funding for local community and economic development recovery efforts post-disaster.