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Oct 31 -- The Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R), at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), invites public comment to OMB by December 8, 2023 regarding a new data collection to measure CDBG Disaster Recovery Outcomes of Renter Households and Affordable Housing. [Comments due 30 days after submission to OMB on November 8.]

The Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R), at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is proposing the collection of information for the HUD CDBG Disaster Recovery Outcomes of Renter Households Cooperative Agreement. The goal of this research is to improve disaster recovery effectiveness for renter households by examining the disaster recovery outcomes of renter households and rental housing stock in places that received Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery grants (CDBG–DR). This research is expected to help the Federal government, states, and communities throughout the United States improve disaster recovery effectiveness for renter households by providing information about how disaster recovery programs funded through CDBG–DR have different impacts on renters and homeowners, and how disasters impact affordable rental housing stock over time. This research will be used to assess renter outcomes, barriers to accessing recovery resources, and mechanisms of Federal and local implementation of CDBG–DR grants. Results from this study will support HUD in identifying opportunities for changes to legislation, policy and program implementation in disaster recovery to improve outcomes for renters.

This Federal Register Notice provides an opportunity to comment on the information collection for this study titled HUD CDBG Disaster Recovery Outcomes of Renter Households. The information collection is designed to support the study of disaster outcomes on renters, including to better understand CDBG–DR allocations across housing tenure, specifically for renters, identify successful processes with corresponding outcomes for rental housing recovery aid programs and translate this research into actionable programmatic recommendations with appropriate timelines, policy making and implementation changes to improve these outcomes. The study includes a survey, interviews and focus groups in communities that have received CDBG–DR funding.

Respondents: CDBG–DR grantee representatives and administrators; elected and appointed government officials in CDBG–DR grantee jurisdictions and municipalities; landlords and developers in CDBG–DR grantee jurisdictions; representatives from housing and tenant advocacy organizations; and renters living in CDBG–DR grantee jurisdictions.

A growing body of research demonstrates how the increasing severity and frequency of disasters exacerbates existing challenges of housing affordability and stability, especially for renters in disaster-affected states, counties, and cities. While the federal government plays an increasingly central role in recovery, pathways for long-term recovery of renters and affordable rental housing are understudied, leaving policymakers with limited tools for long-term planning.

The Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) grants are one of the most prominent sources of federal funding for post disaster recovery, supplementing assistance programs administered by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Small Business Administration (SBA) and other agencies. To date $96 billion dollars have been allocated through CDBG-DR starting from Hurricanes Andrew and Omar in 1992 through Hurricane Ida and other events in 2021.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) CDBG-DR funding is appropriated by Congress following major Presidentially declared disasters when Congress deemed other aid and resources were not enough to meet the needs of the impacted community. State or local CDBG-DR grantees develop action plans and aligned budgets to address unmet need in their communities. According to HUD, “housing assistance is typically the most immediate priority of state and local governments and is often the largest budgeted activity.

The intent of housing recovery programs is to ensure those whose homes were impacted by the disaster can return to safe and adequate housing or relocate to suitable housing elsewhere.” To address the gap in understanding recovery outcomes for rental housing and assessing CDBG-DR effectiveness for this population, in summer 2022, HUD issued a NOFO (FR-6600-N-29A) to announce availability of funding for two research projects. The joint goal of the research is to “improve disaster recovery effectiveness for renter households by examining the disaster recovery outcomes of renter households and rental housing stock in places that received Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery grants (CDBG-DR).” Funding for these studies came from the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (Public Law 116-260, approved December 27, 2020) which provided funding to HUD for research on disaster recovery to support the Department to evaluate the efficacy of its disaster recovery programs. This is aligned with HUD’s FY 2022-2026 Strategic Plan for ensuring everyone has an affordable, healthy place to live.

The scope of the research will focus on the disaster recovery outcomes of renter households and rental housing stock in places awarded CDBG-DR grants, the contributing factors and mechanisms driving recovery outcomes for renter households, and opportunities to improve upon them. The findings of the research will provide recommendations to support Congress, HUD, and State and Local governments in mitigating the loss of affordable rental housing following disasters and facilitating faster and better recovery of renter households. Urban Institute was awarded a cooperative agreement to pursue one of the research studies made available through the NOFO.

Research questions identified by HUD in the RFQ—and the corresponding data collection strategy proposed by The Urban Institute—are provided in Table A1. This supporting statement requests approval for qualitative research (interviews and focus groups) in three disaster affected communities to provide context and help identify potential additional variables of interest for local quantitative analysis of changes in rental housing changes in renter populations and understand the recovery initiatives and role of CDBG-DR requirements in influencing outcomes.

Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) grant funds: https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/comm_planning/cdbg-dr
HUD submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202310-2528-007 Click IC List for data collection instruments, View Supporting Statement for newly added technical documentation. Submit comments through this webpage.
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-23988

For AEA members wishing to submit comments, "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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