December saw a long series of announcements from the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund. New Notices of Funding Availability (NOFAs) appeared in the Dec. 13, 2005, Federal Register (FR) for the CDFI program, which combines financial and technical assistance grants, and for Native American CDFI Assistance (NACA). Also revised are interim regulations for financial assistance to CDFIs that address the use of retained earnings as matching funds. The Dec. 21, 2005, FR moved back deadlines to Feb. 13, 2006, for the CDFI Program (second round, Jan. 9, 2007) and March 1, 2006, for the NACA grants (second round, Feb. 14, 2007).
Also appearing in the Dec. 13 FR is a revised NOFA for the Bank Enterprise Awards (BEA), which reward banks for increasing business with CDFI entities or in disadvantaged areas. For the rest of fiscal 2006, only in areas affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, BEA is reversing its ban on rewarding CDFI banks for doing business with other CDFI banks. This type of award, banned since 2003, allows such banks to claim awards of up to 18% by placing deposits with each other. Available BEA funds doubled to $12 million. The application deadline was extended from Feb. 14 to March 1, 2006, online or March 6, 2006, on paper.
See www.cdfifund.gov for changed information, session dates, forms and instructions for the grants.gov online application process. The Fund is additionally requesting comments by Feb. 27, 2006, on its New Markets Tax Credit application. See the Dec. 28, 2005, FR, which can be reviewed at www.gpoaccess.gov. A selection titled “Browse the Table of Contents” presents FR announcements by date.
Paperwork to reduce paperwork appears
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) urged future grant applicants to register early at the www.grants.gov Web site, a process that had delayed some applications last summer. A final rule in the Dec. 29, 2005, FR made application through grants.gov mandatory for all HUD grants except by specific waiver. The law firm of Nixon Peabody posted a HUD memo at www.nixonpeabody.com, saying HUD-2530 Previous Participation Certifications may be submitted on paper until April 30, 2006. Comments are due April 4, 2006, on how to “reduce regulatory burden” in areas including disclosure and reporting of Community Reinvestment Act-related agreements. See www.egrpra.gov.
Hurricane programs still taking shape
As 2005 ended, hurricane housing relief was still uncertain but gaining solidity. HUD announced $200 million in mortgage relief. Operating rules appeared for the Katrina Disaster Housing Assistance Program (KDHAP) serving tenants who lost HUD-assisted housing. The deadline to register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to receive KDHAP aid was extended to March 11, 2006. Guidance emerged more slowly for KDHAP-SN – the Special Needs program run by HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development for Katrina victims who were either homeless or housed by the Supportive Housing Program, Shelter Plus Care or Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA). Widely applicable information is at www.hud.gov/katrina/index.cfm. For KDHAP-SN see www.hud.gov/offices/ cpd/library/katrina/kdhapsn/index.cfm. See also www.femaanswers.org, especially on the McWaters v. FEMA class action, which obtained a court order keeping evacuees in FEMA-paid hotel rooms until Jan. 7. As of Jan. 2, FEMA extended hotel stays indefinitely, though still precariously. FEMA got a public scolding from the House Financial Services Committee, and the committee nearly subpoenaed HUD officials who at first did not appear for similar criticism.
Other major developments
December’s annual Continuum of Care grant bundle totaled $1.33 billion, below last year’s $1.4 billion. HUD announced $574.8 million in capital advances and rental assistance for Sec. 202 seniors housing and $135.8 million in similar funds for Sec. 811 disability housing. Major recent rule-making notices, by FR announcement date, include:
- Dec. 13, announcements and a proposed rule affecting FEMA flood insurance.
- Dec. 19, Internal Revenue Ser-vice final rule on refunding issues of private-activity bonds.
- Dec. 23, interim rule limiting use of Community Development Block Grants, plus some other grants and loans, for “job pirating.”
- Dec. 28, Federal Housing Finance Board proposed rule to amend the Affordable Housing Program.
- Dec. 28 (with correction Jan. 5, 2006), HUD notice defining coefficients used to calculate public housing authorities’ expense levels.