February 4, 2019

HUD Disburses First Round of Puerto Rico’s CDBG-DR Funds

Community Developments

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  • More than a year after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the island will receive its first installment of long-term recovery funds through HUD’s Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Program. On February 2, HUD authorized the disbursement of $1.5 billion of approximately $20 billion in CDBG-DR funds allocated to Puerto Rico. To operate an effective and transparent rebuilding program, island officials need to secure the disbursement of federal housing funds, rebuild the island’s housing and infrastructure to be resilient to future natural disasters, and address informal and illegal construction and blight. Estimates from before Hurricane Maria suggest that about 55 percent of the island’s structures were built informally, which partially explains why homeowners have passed property down through the generations without formal title. (NBC News, February 4) On January 22, Enterprise along with NeighborWorks and the Puerto Rico Community Foundation hosted more than 150 nonprofit and community leaders for a day-long workshop in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The presentations and panel discussions featured in the workshop underscored the important role that nonprofits play in rebuilding their communities after natural disasters. Read more about the event on Enterprise's blog.
  • A report from the Economic Policy Institute reviews the economic costs and benefits of Airbnb and finds no reason for local policymakers to let Airbnb to bypass tax or regulatory obligations. The study argues that the economic costs of Airbnb outweigh the benefits and that the presence of Airbnb to cities contributes to rising housing costs. It also finds that the economic benefit of increased tourism due to Airbnb is much smaller than commonly advertised and that the beneficiaries of Airbnb’s lower transaction costs are disproportionately white and high-wealth. (Economic Policy Institute, January 30)
  • On Thursday, the Utah Senate advanced a bill that would incentivize affordable housing development at the local and municipal level. The bill ties funds from the annual state transportation investment fund to city participation in affordable housing strategies. To be eligible to receive awards from the $700 million transportation fund, cities would have to implement at least two of 25 potential options to develop affordable and moderate-income housing within their jurisdictions. (KSL.com, February 2)
  • In the Bay Area, rising rents have translated into increased childcare costs, tightening the squeeze on lower- and moderate-income families with children. As real estate costs have risen across the Bay Area, childcare providers have seen their own expenses rise and are passing those costs onto parents. For renter families, this means yet another necessity whose price is increasing rapidly. Infant care in Santa Clara County costs more than $19,000 annually, twice the national average, and thousands of families find themselves on waiting lists for subsidized childcare. The high costs of rent and healthcare together provide considerable displacement pressures on moderate-income families. (Mercury News, February 3)
  • Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has proposed a potential plan to move funds from the state’s General Assistance Fund to a state housing fund. While Governor Wolf has signaled that he would rather keep General Assistance alive in its current form, his proposal is a second option that recognizes the Pennsylvania state legislature may choose to eliminate the fund entirely. Governor Wolf is proposing to move the funds into the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund, which has bipartisan support and is unlikely to be cut by the legislature. (NextCity, February 4)
  • For the first time, community-engaged artists can apply for an Enterprise Rose Fellowship. This national fellowship — which partners community-based designers with local community development corporations to facilitate an inclusive approach that results in sustainable, healthy, affordable homes and neighborhoods — is expanding its previous focus on architects to include artists. Successful artist-applicants will work two years with a nonprofit in California, Massachusetts or Texas to develop and grow creative approaches for improving lives in low-income communities. Successful architect-applicants will join organizations in Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, South Dakota or West Virginia. Since 2000, the Enterprise Rose Fellowship has supported more than 75 emerging architects who have contributed to the design and development of more than 10,000 sustainable, affordable homes and community facilities through their work in 26 states and Puerto Rico.

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