According to a recent audit conducted by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, New York State has been slow when it comes to using the federal relief funds it has received to alleviate the state’s current affordable housing crisis.
In the audit it was found that in the management controlling the Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) and its local program administrators, the funds have been delayed in getting distributed, which puts some of the funding at risk.
Currently, there is a deadline of using the federal COVID-19 funds and with the delays of the funds being distributed to specific housing projects or reliefs, it (the funding) could be lost.
“The state continues to navigate the difficult waters of the post-pandemic housing crisis,” Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said. “We need every dollar available for housing needs in our state, particularly those that can help bolster affordable housing. HCR must work more efficiently to ensure the unprecedented federal relief funds help New Yorkers in need and are not lost because of unnecessary delays and miscommunications.”
The HCR has received hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government over the course of several years. That includes $244 million from the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through a community development block grant program. There was also $127 million in additional funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2022, or known as the CARES act, with a HUD-HCR funding agreement through the year 2026.
There was also $120 million in HOME Investment Partnership Program funds from HUD and $93 million from additional HOME COVID-19 relief aid through the HOME American Rescue Plan Program (HOME-ARP) with a HUD-HCR funding agreement through 2030.
The Homes and Community Renewal acts like a pass through for the money by awarding, in the form of grants, to local program administrators, which then the HCR will oversee to ensure the money is used to meet federal requirements, the report states. HCR has a timeframe through which it must expend at least 80% of the funds by September of next year, September 23rd, 2023 to be exact.
The comptroller’s office has give recommendations to the situation:
- Work with local program administrators to make sure funds on a deadline tied to COVID relief are obligated and spent in a timely manner, by improving communication regarding performance completion requirements and by identifying and reducing delays in releasing funds for completed work.
- Improve internal controls over the administration of the CDBG, including better monitoring of subrecipients and contractors used by local program administrators and strengthening controls over confidential information.