The recently passed CARES Act contains a variety of initiatives to assist Indian Country during this most difficult time. The bill includes a total of $300 million for Indian Housing-related activities. Specifically, the bill provides an additional $200 million to the Indian Housing Block Grant Program (IHBG) formula. In addition, $100 million is earmarked for non-competitive Indian Community Development Block Grants (ICDBG) “to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, for emergencies that constitute imminent threats to health and safety”. Further guidance on accessing the $100 million in the ICDBG funds will be forthcoming.
The additional $200 million in IHBG funds is being provided through a formula allocation. Tribes and Tribally Designated Housing Entities (TDHEs) were provided the amount of their additional funding on April 3, 2020. Funding is intended for activities and projects designed to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19, and maintain operations impacted by COVID-19. IHBG formula funds can be used to pay for the cost of a wide range of eligible activities and administrative and planning costs to protect the health and safety of families assisted under the program. This includes, but is not limited to, using IHBG funds to pay for:
- Staff salaries and expenses for planning and response
- Purchasing personal protective equipment necessary for TDHE staff to administer the IHBG program
- Purchase and use of cleaning supplies such as disinfectants, sanitizers, waste disposal supplies, and other supplies to disinfect homes of residents, common areas, and housing-related public facilities and other public spaces like playgrounds
- Purchase and use of supplies and materials to promote the safety of residents and Tribal housing staff including gloves, surgical masks and goggles, hand hygiene products, soap, paper towels, hand sanitizer, hand wipes, and tissues, thermometers, and more
- Costs to upgrade equipment or technology to facilitate electronic communication and reduce reliance on in-person meetings and transactions. These costs are administrative expenses subject to the administrative cap in 24 CFR 1000.238
- Temporary relocation assistance to families impacted by COVID-19, or to prevent exposure or spread of the virus
- Rehabilitation of housing to improve ventilation
- Housing services to educate residents on prevention and remediation measures to limit risks associated with COVID-19, and other related public health education initiatives
The Office of Native American Programs (ONAP) has just issued a COVID-19 IHBG Implementation Notice https://www.hud.gov/sites/dfiles/OCHCO/documents/2020-06pihn.pdf. Instructions for drawing down funds as well as further clarification on eligible activities are included in this Notice. This Notice also provides guidance on the submission of an Indian Housing Plan (IHP) for the additional COVID-19 IHBG formula funds. IHBG CARES
Form (must check the IHBG CARES box to get the abbreviated version) is available at https://www.hud.gov/sites/dfiles/OCHCO/documents/IHBGCares.pdf
Blue Stone Strategy Group can provide important assistance to your Tribe in preparing for and implementing initiatives related to this funding opportunity. Our housing team is highly experienced in the Indian housing field with extensive Tribal and Federal experience in this critical area. In order to assist Tribes and TDHEs in addressing their housing needs, Blue Stone offers a variety of services that address administrative and planning issues related to the preparation for the additional housing resources that will soon be available to you.
Blue Stone can evaluate the effectiveness of your existing housing programs. This will help to ensure that your Tribe has the administrative capacity to expend these funds in an efficient and timely manner. Blue Stone can also conduct a housing assessment to determine your current housing needs in terms of housing types (i.e. single-family, multi-family, supportive), eligibility for assisted housing, and location preferences. In addition, Blue Stone can identify additional financial resources that could assist your efforts in developing housing for your Tribe.
Blue Stone Strategy Group is deeply committed to increasing housing opportunities in Indian country and looks forward to assisting your Tribe in preparing for this upcoming funding opportunity. Please contact us at 949-476-8828 to schedule a conference call or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your continued leadership and commitment to serving your community. Please consider taking a few minutes to discuss your housing challenges and needs with our team to see how we may be able to be a support.