On October 10, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released a Notice of Proposed Information Collection on a new Opportunity Zone Grant Certification Form. The form, which can be viewed at this link, would collect data from designated Opportunity Zones to be used toward preference points in federal grants and technical assistance applications to HUD programs. Under a December 2018 Executive Order establishing the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council, HUD added preference points to several of its grant programs to give priority consideration to applications proposing investments in Opportunity Zones. Preference points are items that can increase a grant applicant's likelihood to be selected, such as a high rate of unemployment or homelessness.
Established under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (P.L. 115-97), Opportunity Zones encourage private investment in new businesses, property development and infrastructure in distressed communities via tax incentives. Many counties contain areas that qualify for opportunity zone status and are eligible for targeted investment.
As part of HUD’s data collection effort, the Certification Form includes questions aimed at ensuring HUD resources are supporting economically-distressed communities, such as:
- How the federal program/activity would benefit the Opportunity Zone;
- Estimated funding allocations that would be invested in Opportunity Zone projects; and
- How the federal program or activity would promote public and private investment in urban and economically distressed areas (specifically in Opportunity Zones).
Data from these questions would be counted toward the HUD point system. The agency also welcomes suggestions on ways to enhance the data collection process. Please reach out to NACo Associate Legislative Director Daria Daniel at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or suggestions on submitting public comments.
For more information on Opportunity Zones, please see the following links:
- Notice of Proposed Information Collection: Opportunity Zone Grant Certification Form (Federal Register notice)
- Opportunity Zone Grant Certification Form (PDF)
- Public comment period opens for Opportunity Zone planning (NACo blog)
- EDA designates Opportunity Zones as agency priority (NACo blog)
- Legislation introduced to measure economic impact of opportunity zones (NACo blog)