There is a deadline to use the COVID-19 funds, and delays in the allocation to projects and aid programs would cause the loss of funds
New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said an audit found the state agency needs to speed up the allocation of federal COVID-19 grants for affordable housing or risk losing some funding.
“New York has been slow to use some of the federal relief funds intended to alleviate the state’s affordable housing crisis,” DiNapoli said.
The audit found that, under the management of Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) and its local program administrators, the distribution of funds has been delayed, putting some of the funds at risk. Because there is a deadline for using federal COVID-19 funds, delays in allocation to specific housing projects or housing assistance programs could result in a loss of funding.
“The state continues to navigate the difficult waters of the post-pandemic housing crisis,” DiNapoli said. “We need every available dollar for housing needs in our state, particularly those that can help bolster affordable housing. HCR must work more efficiently to ensure unprecedented federal relief funds help New Yorkers in need and are not lost due to unnecessary delays and miscommunications.”
The audit found that HCR needs to improve its timeliness in the obligation and disbursement of federal funds, particularly those specific to COVID-19 relief. For example, it found that HCR had only committed about $98 million of the $127 million in CBDG funds it received through the CARES Act and has repaid less than $5 million.
To meet HUD’s deadline, HCR, in collaboration with local program administrators, must spend $96 million by September 2023, 19 times the amount HCR has spent since receiving the funds in September 2020, or run the risk of losing money. The remaining $122 million must be spent by September 2026 to avoid further potential loss of funds.
Additionally, the audit found that some local administrators did not apply to HCR for COVID-19 relief funds due to agency restrictions. Two of the five local managers the auditors spoke with said they were unable to meet HCR’s 12-month deadline to complete projects due to contractor availability and supply chain issues.
- THE MONEY
HCR received hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government over the past several years, including:
- $244 million from Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through the Community Development Block Grant (CBDG) program.
- $127 million in additional CBDG funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2020 (CARES Act) with a HUD-HCR funding agreement through 2026.
- $120 million in funding from HUD’s HOME Investment Partnership Program.
- $93 million in additional HOME COVID-19 assistance through the HOME American Rescue Plan Program (HOME-ARP) with a HUD-HCR funding agreement through 2030.
Posted on September 16, 2022