Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Recovery Initiative Congress and HUD awarded Florida $100.9 million for disaster relief, long-term recovery, and mitigation directly related to the effects of last summer’s hurricanes. The federal requirements say that funds must be directed to areas with greatest need. Each state that received these supplemental funds ($150 million total) was required to submit an Action Plan for Disaster Recovery to HUD that describes how the state would use its allotted CDBG funds to meet the federal requirements. HUD’s public notice said that it “may be compelled to consider disallowing expenditures if it finds uses of funds are not disaster-related or are clearly not for the greatest needs.” Pursuant to the guidelines in federal law and the specific requirements for the disaster recovery funds, DCA held a public hearing on February 1 in conjunction with the Hurricane Housing Work Group and accepted public comment for another two weeks after that. DCA considered the public comment, revised the draft plan that it published on February 1, and prepared the Action Plan for HUD’s review. HUD expedited its review of Florida’s plan and gave approval on March 4. For regular CDBG funds that DCA administers each year, the Legislature gives DCA block budget authority for the entire federal appropriation, to allocate those funds as it determines appropriate and consistent with federal guidelines. DCA followed a similar process for these one-time disaster recovery CDBG funds. Federal law permits the CDBG funds to be used for housing, public assistance (infrastructure), and business needs. At least 50 percent of these disaster recovery funds must serve low and moderate income (LMI) households. To fulfill the federal mandate that the funds be directed to the areas with the greatest needs from last summer’s hurricanes, DCA scored counties with a formula that measured housing loss, infrastructure loss, and job loss. The housing loss scores were taken from the ranking methodology that the Hurricane Housing Work Group developed. The infrastructure loss scores considered both the absolute dollar value of infrastructure damage as estimated by FEMA for that county and the per capita loss for that county. DCA used both measures to balance the needs of large counties that sustained a lot of damage against more rural counties that sustained disproportionately more significant damage. Likewise, job loss scores considered both the absolute dollar value of disaster unemployment benefits paid and of per capita benefits paid. The scores resulted in the following ranking (for the 25 most impacted counties) and maximum awards to each county. (Note that DCA proposes to retain the federally permitted 2% for administration and oversight and 1% for technical assistance and training.) County Housing Infrastructure Business Total Disaster Impact Score County Cap Charlotte 0.97 0.96 0.99 2.92 $9,000,000.00 St. Lucie 0.83 0.78 0.60 2.20 $9,000,000.00 Indian River 0.66 0.72 0.71 2.08 $9,000,000.00 Escambia 1.00 0.46 0.58 2.04 $9,000,000.00 DeSoto 0.82 0.36 0.67 1.85 $9,000,000.00 Santa Rosa 0.80 0.39 0.45 1.64 $9,000,000.00 Hardee 0.59 0.54 0.48 1.61 $9,000,000.00 Brevard 0.51 0.28 0.27 1.06 $4,375,000.00 Martin 0.37 0.34 0.31 1.02 $4,375,000.00 Palm Beach 0.30 0.35 0.28 0.93 $4,375,000.00 Polk 0.49 0.22 0.16 0.87 $4,375,000.00 Orange 0.17 0.50 0.16 0.83 $4,375,000.00 Okeechobee 0.48 0.11 0.20 0.79 $4,375,000.00 Volusia 0.21 0.29 0.27 0.76 $4,375,000.00 Osceola 0.31 0.30 0.13 0.74 $4,375,000.00 Lee 0.18 0.21 0.30 0.69 Seminole 0.08 0.41 0.08 0.57 Highlands 0.23 0.08 0.12 0.43 Dixie 0.11 0.10 0.16 0.37 Calhoun 0.04 0.30 0.02 0.36 Levy 0.08 0.09 0.12 0.30 Putnam 0.13 0.07 0.05 0.25 Alachua 0.06 0.17 0.02 0.25 Glades 0.10 0.13 0.01 0.24 Okaloosa 0.11 0.03 0.09 0.24 Each local government in a county for which there is a county cap listed may submit specific projects to DCA for approval, consistent with the CDBG guidelines. DCA will then enter into contracts with the local governments to provide funding for eligible disaster recovery projects. These proposed maximum awards satisfy the federal government’s requirement that the emergency CDBG funds be used for disaster relief, long-term recovery, and mitigation in the areas with greatest need. It is important that DCA receive the budget authority consistent with the action plan that HUD approved so that local governments can prepare projects for approval and can start the much needed recovery work as quickly as possible.