On March 8th, HUD announced $1.6 billion in homeless grant awards for the FY 2015 Continuum of Care (CoC) NOFA. Those of you tracking this program may have been perplexed about how HUD came to their funding decision. First, not all of your CoC grant requests, including renewals, were funded. Second, awarded funding was increased over the amount requested for many of the grants.
To answer the first question, HUD is not awarding all of its FY 2015 CoC funds at once this year. They announced $1.6 billion in Tier 1 awards on March 8th, and will award another $300 million in Tier 2 awards at an unspecified date later this spring. CoCs were required to rank their grant requests, grouping their highest priority grants that equal 85% of their Annual Renewal Amount in Tier 1, and the remaining 15% of their Annual Renewal Amount, plus the amount of their Permanent Housing Bonus, in Tier 2. Tier 1 grant requests were generally awarded funds on March 8th. Those grant requests that were split between Tier 1 and Tier 2 were not awarded funds at that time.
On the second question, HUD made adjustments to their awards based on the FY 2016 Fair Market Rents in effect at the time of application submission. In addition, adjustments were made to permanent housing project operating and leasing costs based on increases in the Fair Market Rent, weighted for population density.
See HUD's complete explanation and the list of awardees here.
As stated in HUD's news release, the CoC NOFA has become increasingly competitive in recent years. The major scoring criteria is the extent to which grant requests meet the program's principal priorities: serving the Chronically Homeless, lowering barriers to access housing, and implementing rapid re-housing and permanent housing. Many CoCs are moving funds from projects that do not address these priorities to projects that do meet them. In addition, CoCs are required to invest more time and money in developing an infrastructure to coordinate CoC programs, including governance structures, coordinated intake and assessment, program evaluation, and HMIS. These investments require a larger commitment of non-HUD funds to CoCs than have been committed in the past, as HUD does not allocate funds for CoC administration other than small, infrequent planning grants.
I will revisit this emerging trend further in future blogs. Feel free to contact me if you need help with your CoC.