Department of Housing and Community Development

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)

Frequently Asked Questions about Housing Programs

GENERAL

Which programs are directly administered by DHCD?

DHCD administers the Community Development Block Grant, Tax Credit Assistance Program, Tax Credit Exchange, Homelessness Prevention Fund, Lead Hazard Abatement programs, Weatherization Assistance Program, Community Services Block Grant, and Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

Are there housing and community development programs in which funding goes directly from the federal government to cities and towns?

Yes. The Community Development Block Grant, Homelessness Prevention Fund, and Public Housing Capital Fund all include funding components that go directly to certain cities and towns.

Where can I find more information about DHCD's ARRA programs?

For information on the Community Development Block Grant, Weatherization Assistance Program, Community Services Block Grant, and Neighborhood Stabilization Program, contact the division of Community Services at 617-573-1400. For information on the Tax Credit Assistance Program, Tax Credit Exchange, and Lead Hazard Abatement Programs, contact the division of Housing Development at 617-573-1300. You can also visit DHCD's website at www.mass.gov/dhcd.

NEIGHBORHOOD STABILIZATION PROGRAM

Will this Neighborhood Stabilization Program be the same as the one that was set up last year under HERA?

In many ways - the eligible uses (foreclosed property acquisition/rehab, etc) are basically the same as under last year's NSP program. States, certain local governments, and non-profits are all potential fund recipients under this program. The key difference is that this NSP program will be a competitive funding program, not a formula funding program.

Will there be Neighborhood Stabilization Program funding going directly to non-profits?

We don't know yet. The ARRA Neighborhood Stabilization Program ("NSP II") is a competitive program and HUD has yet to lay out the rules about what kind of entities can apply and how the process will work. The rules for the competitive process from HUD should be released around the beginning of May.

WEATHERIZATION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

What is the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)?

Weatherization (WAP) is a program funded by the U. S. Department of Energy and administered in Massachusetts by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). It is operated locally by 12 regional agencies under contract to DHCD and provides eligible low-income households with full-scale home energy conservation services. On average, Weatherization helps permanently reduce home heating bills by up to 30% per year.

How does the Weatherization Program work?

Depending on the needs of each house, the weatherization measures will vary. After needs are determined by an inspection from a certified energy auditor, typical completed weatherization measures may include: air sealing, attic and/or sidewall insulation, weather-stripping, and minor repairs associated with the weatherization work. The maximum amount per eligible household is $6,500.

Who is eligible for Weatherization assistance?

Program eligibility is based on household eligibility for the LIHEAP program (Fuel Assistance). In Massachusetts, that includes households with a gross annual income that does not exceed 60% of the Estimated State Median Income. For a household of four in 2009, that is a maximum gross weekly income of $1,031 or gross annual income of $53,608.

Where and how can I apply for Weatherization assistance?

Fuel Assistance agencies are located across the State and take applications from November 1 to April 30th of each heating season. To learn where to apply, those interested can either call the toll free HEAT Line (1-800-632-8175) or else click here: http://app1.ocd.state.ma.us/fuel/

How can I as a contractor participate in the Weatherization program?

In Massachusetts, Weatherization contractors are hired by the twelve regional Weatherization agencies that are under contract to the Department of Housing and Community Development. Those interested in learning about opportunities can directly reach the Energy Program Directors at those agencies using the contact information at this link: http://app1.ocd.state.ma.us/fuel/

Are replacement windows eligible under the Weatherization program?

Yes. However, weatherization measures are installed in the following order under a targeted priority list of energy saving measures depending on the needs of the house: 1) major air sealing/general heat waste/ duct sealing; and primary heating system; 2) uninsulated attic; 3) uninsulated walls; 4) compact fluorescent lighting; 5) uninsulated floors (unconditioned basements only) or uninsulated perimeter (conditioned basement); 6) uninsulated space heating ducts or pipes; 7) partially insulated attic; 8) interior storm windows; and 9) minor general heat waste.

How can I as a manufacturer or supplier contact the Weatherization agencies?

Manufacturers and suppliers interested in learning about opportunities can directly reach the Energy Program Directors at those agencies using the contact information at this link: http://app1.ocd.state.ma.us/fuel/

I received Weatherization assistance in the past--can I receive assistance again?

It is possible to receive Weatherization assistance again if your household is eligible for the LIHEAP program and your home was weatherized prior to September 30, 1994.

COMMUNITY SERVICES BLOCK GRANT

What is the Community Services Block Grant program and how does it work?

The CSBG program funds community anti-poverty activities. Funds come from the federal Department of Health and Human Services to the state, and the state distributes those funds directly to Community Action Agencies across Massachusetts based on a formula. Regular CSBG activities include employment and job skills training, food and nutrition assistance, child development programs, fuel and energy assistance, housing assistance, and many other anti-poverty areas.

What CSBG activities are eligible under stimulus funding?

No official guidance has been issued on what activities would or would not be allowed under the stimulus funding.

How will the allocations be distributed--lump sum, quarterly?

The ARRA stimulus funds will be provided to states in one allotment. Additionally, they will be distributed via the current OCS CSBG funding formula.

PUBLIC HOUSING CAPITAL FUND

What can the Public Housing Capital Fund be used for?

This fund can be used to support rehab and other capital needs in federally-assisted public housing. New construction is also a potential use, though priority is given to capital projects already underway.

Is state-funded public housing eligible for support from this fund?

No. This ARRA capital funding can only support federally-funded public housing and awards have already been made from HUD directly to many Public Housing Authorities throughout the Commonwealth. Many of these Housing Authorities also have state-funded public housing, but the ARRA funding only supports the federally-funded components.

HOMELESSNESS PREVENTION FUND

What is the Homeless Prevention Program?

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 included $1.5 billion for a Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP). Funds can be used to:

  • prevent or reduce episodes of homelessness among low income families and individuals; and
  • rapidly re-house homeless families and individuals by moving them from either the streets or from emergency shelters into housing.

My city didn't get an award but we have homeless individuals and homeless families in shelters. Why didn't we get an award?

The legislation required that the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) distribute the funds by using its formula for distributing annual Emergency Shelter Grant Funds. A minimum grant size of $500,000 was established by HUD. The remaining funds for Massachusetts were awarded directly to the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth in turn is required to further distribute these funds through a competitive Request for Responses, or RFR. Cities and towns are eligible to respond to the Commonwealth's RFR.

Can this money be used to help people get caught up on their mortgage payments and prevent foreclosures?

No, HPRP is not a mortgage assistance program. However, homeowners who meet HPRP eligibility criteria may receive utility assistance and moving cost assistance (i.e. after foreclosure), as well as services needed to help them stay housed. These might include case management, credit counseling, housing search, and legal services not related to a mortgage.

Who can this money be used to help?

There are two populations of persons facing housing instability that are eligible to receive funding under the HPRP:

1) individuals and families who are currently in housing but are at risk of becoming homeless and need temporary rent or utility assistance to prevent them from becoming homeless or assistance to move to another unit (prevention), and

2) individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness (residing in emergency or transitional shelters or on the street) and need temporary assistance in order to obtain housing and retain it (rapid re-housing).

What are the eligible activities under the HPRP?

There are four categories of eligible activities for the HPRP: financial assistance, housing relocation and stabilization services, data collection and evaluation, and administrative costs.

What are the eligible financial assistance expenses?

Financial assistance is limited to the following activities: short-term rental assistance, medium-term rental assistance, security deposits, utility deposits, utility payments, moving cost assistance, and motel and hotel vouchers.

What is short-term rental assistance and what is medium-term rental assistance?

Short-term rental assistance may not exceed rental costs accrued over a period of 3 months. Medium-term rental assistance may not exceed actual rental costs accrued over a period of 4 to 18 months.

As an award recipient, can I establish more strict requirements than HUD established?

Yes. HUD is providing municipal and state governments with discretion to establish requirements that further target community needs. Each may elect to implement more stringent targeting and/or eligibility requirements as long as all program participants meet the minimum eligibility criteria and the award recipients comply with all local and federal requirements. For example, award recipients may require participants to be at 30% or less of Area Median Income (AMI) or may offer only one or two of the menu of available services.



How can I as a contractor participate in the Weatherization program?

In Massachusetts, Weatherization contractors are hired by the twelve regional Weatherization agencies that are under contract to the Department of Housing and Community Development. Those interested in learning about opportunities can directly reach the Energy Program Directors at those agencies using the contact information at this link: http://app1.ocd.state.ma.us/fuel/

Are replacement windows eligible under the Weatherization program?

Yes. However, weatherization measures are installed in the following order under a targeted priority list of energy saving measures depending on the needs of the house: 1) major air sealing/general heat waste/ duct sealing; and primary heating system; 2) uninsulated attic; 3) uninsulated walls; 4) compact fluorescent lighting; 5) uninsulated floors (unconditioned basements only) or uninsulated perimeter (conditioned basement); 6) uninsulated space heating ducts or pipes; 7) partially insulated attic; 8) interior storm windows; and 9) minor general heat waste.

How can I as a manufacturer or supplier contact the Weatherization agencies?

Manufacturers and suppliers interested in learning about opportunities can directly reach the Energy Program Directors at those agencies using the contact information at this link: http://app1.ocd.state.ma.us/fuel/

I received Weatherization assistance in the past--can I receive assistance again?

It is possible to receive Weatherization assistance again if your household is eligible for the LIHEAP program and your home was weatherized prior to September 30, 1994.

COMMUNITY SERVICES BLOCK GRANT

What is the Community Services Block Grant program and how does it work?

The CSBG program funds community anti-poverty activities. Funds come from the federal Department of Health and Human Services to the state, and the state distributes those funds directly to Community Action Agencies across Massachusetts based on a formula. Regular CSBG activities include employment and job skills training, food and nutrition assistance, child development programs, fuel and energy assistance, housing assistance, and many other anti-poverty areas.

What CSBG activities are eligible under stimulus funding?

No official guidance has been issued on what activities would or would not be allowed under the stimulus funding.

How will the allocations be distributed--lump sum, quarterly?

The ARRA stimulus funds will be provided to states in one allotment. Additionally, they will be distributed via the current OCS CSBG funding formula.

PUBLIC HOUSING CAPITAL FUND

What can the Public Housing Capital Fund be used for?

This fund can be used to support rehab and other capital needs in federally-assisted public housing. New construction is also a potential use, though priority is given to capital projects already underway.

Is state-funded public housing eligible for support from this fund?

No. This ARRA capital funding can only support federally-funded public housing and awards have already been made from HUD directly to many Public Housing Authorities throughout the Commonwealth. Many of these Housing Authorities also have state-funded public housing, but the ARRA funding only supports the federally-funded components.

HOMELESSNESS PREVENTION FUND

What is the Homeless Prevention Program?

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 included $1.5 billion for a Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP). Funds can be used to:

  • prevent or reduce episodes of homelessness among low income families and individuals; and
  • rapidly re-house homeless families and individuals by moving them from either the streets or from emergency shelters into housing.

My city didn't get an award but we have homeless individuals and homeless families in shelters. Why didn't we get an award?

The legislation required that the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) distribute the funds by using its formula for distributing annual Emergency Shelter Grant Funds. A minimum grant size of $500,000 was established by HUD. The remaining funds for Massachusetts were awarded directly to the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth in turn is required to further distribute these funds through a competitive Request for Responses, or RFR. Cities and towns are eligible to respond to the Commonwealth's RFR.

Can this money be used to help people get caught up on their mortgage payments and prevent foreclosures?

No, HPRP is not a mortgage assistance program. However, homeowners who meet HPRP eligibility criteria may receive utility assistance and moving cost assistance (i.e. after foreclosure), as well as services needed to help them stay housed. These might include case management, credit counseling, housing search, and legal services not related to a mortgage.

Who can this money be used to help?

There are two populations of persons facing housing instability that are eligible to receive funding under the HPRP:

1) individuals and families who are currently in housing but are at risk of becoming homeless and need temporary rent or utility assistance to prevent them from becoming homeless or assistance to move to another unit (prevention), and

2) individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness (residing in emergency or transitional shelters or on the street) and need temporary assistance in order to obtain housing and retain it (rapid re-housing).

What are the eligible activities under the HPRP?

There are four categories of eligible activities for the HPRP: financial assistance, housing relocation and stabilization services, data collection and evaluation, and administrative costs.

What are the eligible financial assistance expenses?

Financial assistance is limited to the following activities: short-term rental assistance, medium-term rental assistance, security deposits, utility deposits, utility payments, moving cost assistance, and motel and hotel vouchers.

What is short-term rental assistance and what is medium-term rental assistance?

Short-term rental assistance may not exceed rental costs accrued over a period of 3 months. Medium-term rental assistance may not exceed actual rental costs accrued over a period of 4 to 18 months.

As an award recipient, can I establish more strict requirements than HUD established?

Yes. HUD is providing municipal and state governments with discretion to establish requirements that further target community needs. Each may elect to implement more stringent targeting and/or eligibility requirements as long as all program participants meet the minimum eligibility criteria and the award recipients comply with all local and federal requirements. For example, award recipients may require participants to be at 30% or less of Area Median Income (AMI) or may offer only one or two of the menu of available services.