On March 13, 2020, the President declared the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic of sufficient severity and magnitude to warrant an emergency declaration for all states, tribes, territories, and the District of Columbia pursuant to section 501 (b) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. 5121-5207 (the “Stafford Act”). The President has since provided major disaster declarations for certain areas pursuant to section 401 of the Stafford Act.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (P.L. 116-136) includes $5 billion for the Community Development Fund, enabling additional U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) support for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) grantees. Grantees may use existing 2019, 2020, and expanded CDBG funds for a range of eligible activities that prevent and respond to the spread of infectious diseases such as COVID-19. Additionally, on April 9, 2020, CPD’s Acting Assistant Secretary John Gibbs released a memorandum transmitting the guide “CARES Act Flexibilities for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funds Used to Support Coronavirus Response.” In addition to urging all States and localities not to wait to apply for their allocations, the memorandum grants a waiver for plan amendments with instructions on how a grantee may submit an amendment for allocated CDBG coronavirus response (CDBG-CV) funds. The expedited process allows a grantee to incorporate CDBG-CV funds within the most recent annual action plan, including a 2019 annual action plan.

This field memorandum is found on the HUD Exchange and can be read in its entirety here.

HUD Waivers for CDBG-CV funds

To expedite grantees’ use of CDBG-CV funds, HUD is waiving certain requirements that are normally mandatory under federal regulations [42 U.S.C. 12705(a)(2), 24 CFR § 91.220, and 24 CFR § 91.320], such as updates to housing and homeless needs assessment, housing market analysis, and strategic and consolidated action plans. Under this waiver, action plans will not be limited to a specific program year. This provides grantees the flexibility to prepare substantial amendments to their most recent annual action plan, including their 2019 annual action plan. Grantees must identify the proposed use of all funds and how the funds will be used to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.

HUD is also waiving 24 CFR 91.505, which contains certain requirements for amendments to consolidated plans, in order to facilitate the use of the CDBG-CV funds and the submission of the substantial amendment to HUD for review. Submission requirements are outlined in the field memorandum.

Eligible Activities

To assist CDBG grantees in navigating effective applications of the full range of funding available to assist with their communities’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tidal Basin’s CDBG team has compiled examples of ways in which CDBG funding regulations may be applied in the current situation.

Building and Improvements, Including Public Facilities

  • Acquisition, construction, reconstruction, or installation of public works, facilities, and site or other improvements.
    • Construct a facility for testing, diagnosis, or treatment.
    • Rehabilitate a community facility to establish an infectious disease treatment clinic.
    • Acquire and rehabilitate, or construct, a group living facility that may be used to centralize patients undergoing treatment.
  • Rehabilitation of buildings and improvements (including interim assistance).
    • Rehabilitate a commercial building or closed school building to establish an infectious disease treatment clinic.
    • Acquire, and quickly rehabilitate (if necessary) a motel or hotel building to expand capacity of hospitals to accommodate isolation of patients during recovery.
    • Make interim improvements to private properties to enable an individual patient to remain quarantined on a temporary basis.

Assistance to Businesses, Including Special Economic Development Assistance

  • Provision of assistance to private, for-profit entities, when appropriate, to carry out an economic development project.
    • Provide grants or loans to support new businesses or business expansion to create jobs and manufacture medical supplies necessary to respond to infectious disease.
    • Avoid job loss caused by business closures related to social distancing by providing short-term working capital assistance to small businesses to enable retention of jobs held by low- and moderate-income persons.
  • Provision of assistance to microenterprises.
    • Provide technical assistance, grants, loans, and other financial assistance to establish, stabilize, and expand microenterprises that provide medical, food delivery, cleaning, and other services to support home health and quarantine.

Public Services (15 Percent Cap removed for COVID Response)

  • Provision of new or quantifiably increased public services
    • Carry out job training to expand the pool of healthcare workers and technicians available to treat disease within a community.
    • Provide testing, diagnosis or other services at a fixed or mobile location.
    • Increase the capacity and availability of targeted health services for infectious disease response within existing health facilities.
    • Provide equipment, supplies, and materials necessary to carry out a public service, including childcare for essential workers.
    • Deliver meals on wheels to quarantined individuals or individuals that need to maintain social distancing due to medical vulnerabilities.

Planning, Capacity Building, and Technical Assistance

  • States only: Planning grants and planning-only grants.
    • Grant funds to units of general local government may be used for planning activities in conjunction with an activity; they may also be used for planning-only as an activity. These activities must meet or demonstrate that they would meet a national objective. These activities are subject to the state’s 20 percent administration, planning and technical assistance cap.
  • States only: Provision of technical assistance and capacity building.
    • Grant funds to units of general local government to hire technical assistance providers to deliver CDBG training to new subrecipients and local government departments that are administering CDBG funds for the first time to assist with infectious disease response. This activity is subject to the state’s 3 percent administration, planning and technical assistance cap.
  • Entitlement only: Data gathering, studies, analysis, and preparation of plans and the identification of actions that will implement such plans.
    • Gather data and develop non-project-specific emergency infectious disease response plans.


What should grantees and applicants do now?

Grantees and applicants should coordinate with local health authorities on the appropriate response for each community. Any use of CDBG funds will need to be incorporated into existing Consolidated Annual Action Plans, and in some cases may meet the criteria for a substantial amendment. These activities may also require amendments to citizen participation plans.

How can Tidal Basin help with this process?

Each community and governmental jurisdiction will be affected differently by COVID-19. Tidal Basin stands ready to assist you with our well-rounded cadre of disaster recovery and program management professionals. This includes:

  • Drafting amendments and COVID-19 program design
  • COVID response and financial recovery strategy development
  • Management and coordination of multiple sources of funding
  • Administration and implementation
  • Procurement support
  • Construction management
  • Compliance oversight
  • Preparation of HUD reimbursement requests and invoice reviews
  • Close-out

Please contact our Tidal Basin CDBG team at [email protected] for additional information and guidance on how we can help your community.

For more preparedness and recovery information, materials, and resources on this pandemic, visit our COVID-19 page.