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Friday, November 9, 2012

Community Development Block Grant Funds in Disaster Relief and Recovery

Eugene Boyd
Analyst in Federalism and Economic Development Policy

In the aftermath of presidentially declared disasters, Congress has used a variety of programs to help states and local governments finance recovery efforts, among them the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. Over the years, Congress has appropriated supplemental CDBG funds to assist states and communities recover from such natural disasters as hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes. In addition, CDBG funds supported recovery efforts in New York City following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001; in Oklahoma City following the bombing of the Alfred Murrah Building in 1995; and in the city and county of Los Angeles following the riots of 1992. In response to those calamities, CDBG funds were made available for short-term relief efforts, mitigation actions, and long-term recovery, and to provide housing and business assistance, infrastructure reconstruction, and public services.

The Gulf Coast hurricanes of 2005 (Katrina, Rita, and Wilma) resulted in the largest appropriation of CDBG funds for disaster relief and recovery in the program’s history. Since December 2005, Congress has provided $19.85 billion in CDBG disaster-related assistance to the five states (Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas) affected by the Gulf Coast hurricanes of 2005. This included $11.5 billion in CDBG assistance appropriated in the Defense Appropriations Act for FY2006, P.L. 109-148; $5.2 billion in the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Hurricane Recovery Act of 2006, P.L. 109-234; and $3 billion (exclusively for Louisiana’s Road Home Program) appropriated in the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for FY2008, P.L. 110-116.

The 110th Congress appropriated $6.8 billion in CDBG funds to be used to respond to presidentially declared disasters occurring in 2008. This included $300 million appropriated under the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, P.L. 110-252, and $6.5 billion included in the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009, P.L. 110-329.

In general, CDBG disaster relief acts passed since 2005 have included provisions that limit the amount a state could use for administrative expenses to 5%; allow a state to seek waivers of program requirements, except those related to fair housing, nondiscrimination, labor standards, and environmental review; prohibit the use of funds for activities that were reimbursable by or made available by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or the Army Corp of Engineers; and require each state to develop and HUD to approve state recovery plans

As a condition for the receipt of CDBG disaster recovery assistance, states are required to submit quarterly reports to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees on all awards and use of funds. The acts do not prescribe the form these quarterly reports are to take nor the content they are to include, except for identifying and rationalizing the use of sole source contracts.

The 111th Congress approved a supplemental appropriations act for 2010, H.R. 4899, which was signed by the President on July 29, 2010, as P.L. 111-212. The act provided an additional $100 million in CDBG funds to help states and communities undertake disaster recovery activities in presidentially declared disaster areas affected by severe storms and flooding during the period from March 2010 through May 2010. Most recently, the 112th Congress also considered and passed legislation (P.L. 112-55) appropriating $400 million in supplemental CDBG disaster assistance for disasters occurring in 2011.

Date of Report: November 1, 2012
Number of Pages: 17
Order Number: RL33330
Price: $29.95

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