FY 1998 - 2003 Strategic Plan
Strategic Objective #1

Empower communities to meet local needs.


Our mission of creating communities of opportunity requires more than just administering our programs on a day-to-day basis. HUD must take a proactive, leadership role in partnering with America's communities. As we move towards the future of America, we will help communities to solve their own problems by

  • Planning and executing housing and community development initiatives that are community-driven;

  • Coordinating comprehensive, sustainable solutions to urban problems;

  • Streamlining housing and community development programs to make them more efficient and effective;

  • Increasing access by and communication between citizens and government at all levels.

Key to this objective is the Consolidated Planning Process. The Consolidated Plan/Community Connections system, initiated in 1994-5, was developed to offer a more comprehensive and rational approach to housing and community development planning. It was an attempt to break down the barriers between four block grant programs totalling over $6 billion annually to allow communities more flexibility in applying different programs in an integrated way to solve local problems. CPD folded 12 different planning, application, and reporting requirements of these four programs into one planning and reporting system, enabling the communities to address their problems more comprehensively. The Consolidated Plan/Community Connections anticipated the current "placed-based strategy" which has been applied to all of HUD.

This approach has been a success. It was one of the 10 projects in the United States to receive a Ford Foundation/Kennedy School of Government innovations award in 1996. Every large city, urban county, and State in the United States undertook a three to five year strategic plan as part of their Consolidated Plan in 1995 or 1996. Annually, every State and entitlement community submits an action plan showing how they are going to spend current fiscal year funds received by formula to carry out the goals laid out in the strategic plan. Some 1,000 Consolidated Plan summaries were placed on the Web for all to see. The system has the following components:

  1. Instead of submitting separate plans and applications to address community development, affordable housing, homelessness or housing for persons with HIV/AIDS, communities now submit a single, comprehensive strategic plan. It serves as the application and funding mechanism for four different block grants: the Community Development Block Grant program (CDBG), HOME investment partnerships, Emergency Shelter Grants, and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA). Moreover, it includes a comprehensive homeless needs assessment and plan which is reflected in applications for competitive homeless assistance programs. It also provides a comprehensive frame of reference for other HUD programs, making it an instrument for integrated HUD programs at the local level.

  2. It includes a strong empowerment component to ensure that citizens understand and participate in the development of programs to meet their needs. The goal is to create community-based integrated planning. Citizens must be given adequate time to comment on proposed plans and reports on accomplishments. Therefore, citizens are part of the control system of HUD because if communities did not do what they said they were going to do, citizens would complain to HUD and the community.

  3. To ensure that information on proposed projects is presented clearly to help citizens understand what is proposed, HUD provided software for community use. This software package includes on-the-shelf software. Grantees use the software to produce the text file, data base, and map files. The software displays maps of proposed projects located by neighborhood showing social and economic conditions in those neighborhoods. Data files on proposed projects can be aggregated nationally. That software has now been updated with a more sophisticated set of census data for application as a systems integration device for all of HUD programs: it can show on a single map all HUD projects (proposed and actual) which have addresses and are put into the system. It is now called Community 2020. Citizens, communities, and local housing authorities all over the United States have been sold or given copies of this software package.

  4. Grantees must identify for every specific objective proposed accomplishments the jurisdiction hopes to achieve in quantitative terms for the strategic plan period, or in other measurable terms. Proposed actions should be related to identified needs.

  5. Part of this system is the Integrated Disbursement and Information System (IDIS), which essentially is an automated system to draw down funds and report on progress in achieving goals. Among the advantages of this system are that it provides more accurate and timely information on results, provides consistent and clear information to citizens, HUD Offices. CPD has also developed a performance mapping system to allow citizens to view the location of completed and partially completed activities. When fully loaded with data on results, this data should be accessible to all using the Web.

  6. Communities can download annual IDIS data on results achieved for use in their Community Annual Performance and Evaluation report which they must submit. This document informs citizens what the grantee has accomplished with its CPD funds and other leveraged funding during the program year.

  7. Armed with more accurate data on achievements, our Field Offices conduct a more meaningful annual community assessment for each grantee. They ask the questions: (a) what did the community say it would do? (b) what did the community do? (3) what is HUD's opinion of what the community did? Annual Community Assessments have been completed for most of the grantees in the United States.

  8. Field Offices prepare an Annual Comparative Review which ranks grantees in each Field Office by quality and risk after identifying those that HUD considered to be demonstrating "best practices", those that are performing well, and those that need more oversight or technical assistance. A list of best practices provides a tool to offer peer-to-peer technical assistance. In July of this year, a conference on best practices was held which identified good performers in economic development, housing, homeless support and other areas. The list of grantees which are not performing well provides the basis for developing a work plan for field monitoring and technical assistance for each Field Office for the following year.

  9. Once the first full program year is completed with most grantees on IDIS, a national data base can be developed which will display grantees' achievements in quantitative terms which will permit comparison of one grantee with another. This will be a form of "benchmarking" which will enable HUD to offer technical assistance to communities which are performing significantly below the levels of comparably-situated communities.


Planning and executing housing and community development initiatives that are community-driven

Local communities know best how to implement programs. While maintaining a needed focus on meeting national objectives established by Congress, Government must empower citizens and communities in planning how their taxpayer dollars are to be spent. A new emphasis on citizen participation and bottom-up planning and program design drives HUD's internal organization and its relationship to its grantees. Field Offices will continue to be given significantly increased authority to waive requirements, develop integrated customer service plans, including technical assistance, geared toward meeting specific local needs, and implement priorities in a manner that addresses the unique circumstances of the areas they deal with daily.

Through the Consolidated Planning Process, HUD has instituted a unified and streamlined process for creating locally driven strategies for housing and community development. Instead of submitting disparate, unconnected applications and plans, jurisdictions now prepare five-year vision statements -- and one-year action plans -- for the use of Federal funds with extensive citizen participation.

Coordinating comprehensive, sustainable solutions to urban problems

Solving community needs requires a holistic, comprehensive strategy that links economic, human, physical, environmental and other concerns. While separate program requirements may address individual elements, neighborhoods in fact operate as systems. The most effective solutions are those that reflect a comprehensive, coordinated approach. The plethora of programs and regulations HUD traditionally administered actually undercut communities' ability to implement comprehensive solutions. Traditionally, as new urban problems emerged, separate categorical programs to address them would be funded. As a result, communities were required to focus on specific symptoms of larger problems and were prevented from addressing the underlying causes.

HUD's proposed public housing reforms will allow housing authorities to take a more comprehensive approach to managing their assets and programs. Housing Authorities will be able to plan and manage stock in a manner consistent with sound real estate management practices rather than simply managing to outdated regulations. In addition, Housing Authorities will be required to certify that their stock management strategies are consistent with the local Consolidated Plan, thereby tying their activities to urgent community needs. These reform measures include: flexible use of capital and operating funds, use of mixed-finance development, the conversion of competitive grants to formula allocations that will allow Housing Authorities to plan their use strategically, and allowing Housing Authorities to retain operating and capital funds for the replacement of obsolete housing.

HUD will also promote urban development that is friendly to the environment. HUD is committed to demonstrating that economic growth and environmental quality are complementary. Some examples: sustainable development will again be one of the key selection criteria for the Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities; and Homeownership Zones will adopt pedestrian friendly design standards that will contribute to improved air quality in urban areas.

Streamlining housing and community development programs to make them more efficient and effective

Streamlining and simplifying programs are essential steps to making them much more comprehensible and approachable, eliminating burdensome requirements, stripping away superfluous procedures and focusing on what works. Previous efforts to implement detailed program requirements were accompanied by overly restrictive program submissions and produced a dysfunctional system in which regulations and process triumphed over performance and product. Through the Consolidated Planning Process and other strategies, HUD will continue its efforts to reduce paperwork and burdensome regulations; enable communities to submit long range plans using a new, electronic paperless system; harness new technologies to move both HUD and community development in general into the 21st century; and condition funding on clear, locally-determined performance measures.

HUD has also proposed legislation that would convert inflexible and labor-intensive competitive grant programs into flexible formula grants. Formula grants conserve valuable staff time by eliminating time consuming annual competitions. They also make funding more predictable so that communities may plan strategically. HUD legislation would consolidate homeless assistance services from six disparate programs into one flexible, performance-based program. Capital funds for smaller PHAs and Drug Elimination Grants for public housing communities would also be converted to formula.

Other programmatic reforms will improve the performance of HUD programs. The development of flexible capital and operating funds and expansion of mixed financed development mechanisms will allow Housing Authorities to manage assets strategically. The merger of the Section 8 certificate and voucher programs and implementation of streamlining measures will make tenant based assistance easier for HUD, Housing Authorities and private landlords to administer. In addition, HUD will begin to administer the "NAHASDA" Block Grant, which provides Tribally-Designated Housing Entities with flexible funding.

Increasing access by and communication between citizens and Government at all levels

An essential element of community empowerment is access to information and improved communication with Government. We must maintain open lines of communication not just among Government and citizens, but also among different levels of Government and within the Department as well. New computer technologies can be put to work to facilitate this communication. But, more than that, Government must learn how to talk with local communities; it must reach out and involve local residents. HUD will take advantage of new technologies, moving its programs and the communities they serve onto the information highway. New computer software for use in preparing the Consolidated Plan is being provided to all communities. The software makes planning easier for citizens and elected officials. Every community has received a package that includes a mapping system that illustrates the following: where Federal dollars are being spent locally; up-to-date information on neighborhood characteristics such as average income, age, education, and housing market characteristics; the location of existing public infrastructure, streets, utilities, parks, and other public facilities.

HUD will make maximum use of this technology to ensure that every citizen has information on Consolidated Plans for their community. Summaries of Consolidated Plans from 987 communities are expected to be placed on the Web, with some 1,000 placed on the Web to date. This includes maps of proposed projects in relation to social and economic conditions in the community. The HUD Website will continue to provide citizens and communities with information about the total range of HUD programs and issues facing urban America.

Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing

The Department has moved in the direction of empowering communities to chart their own course in resolving local problems. It began by allowing communities to define impediments to housing opportunities in the community and develop a strategy and program to eliminate these impediments.

Fair Housing Planning's Analysis of Impediments is the vehicle that empowers the communities to define their local fair housing problems and develop a program to eliminate these impediments. This effort enables the community to develop a holistic approach and gives it the responsibility and authority to decide the nature and extent of fair housing problems and design a program that assures accessibility and housing opportunities to all of its citizens.

Through its fair housing and other grant programs, the Department will support locally­driven efforts to address tensions which arise in their communities when persons seek to expand their housing choice. Such tensions may arise when communities implement court settlements designed to eliminate racial segregation in public housing, take steps to reduce the isolation of low income groups within a community or geographical area, or provide new group homes for persons with disabilities. Rather than dictating solutions to such problems, the Department will empower communities to implement their own strategies, to coordinate these strategies with their Consolidated Plan and community development programs, and to build upon collaborative grassroots efforts among local governmental agencies, fair housing organizations, and other community groups. FHEO will work closely with EPA and other HUD Program Offices to assure that residents of its housing programs are not unduly impacted by negative environmental conditions, (i.e., toxic waste, superfund sites).

The Department views this effort as an integral part of meeting our urban problems, as it is part of a comprehensive and coordinated approach to meeting the needs of all local residents.

Housing - Working with the Communities

Property disposition

    Single Family has a property disposition program targeted to non­profits (30% discounts). Consultation with the communities frequently occurs via the non­profits. Sales through May of this fiscal year in this program were 2,067 properties versus a goal of 2,082.

    In Multifamily, as part of the foreclosure process, HUD contacts state and local governments and the local PHA to determine if there is any interest in the possible purchase or future use of the project. In addition, these entities have a right of first refusal to purchase projects if they become HUD­owned.


    Both the FY 1997 Portfolio Reengineering Demonstration and the proposed legislation require that project tenants and the affected units of local Government have an opportunity to provide comments on the proposed restructuring.

Neighborhood Networks

    Neighborhood Networks is an initiative launched in 1995 as a voluntary, community­based approach to use computer technology to empower residents of HUD assisted and insured Multifamily housing to become more self­sufficient, employable and economically self­reliant. HUD's role has been to encourage property owners, managers and residents to establish computer learning centers to link residents to public and private organizations for job­related, educational and other community purposes. HUD Field Office staff also provided technical assistance and clarified that certain project resources are available to help the centers. Obviously, Neighborhood Networks has community­building aspects as well as welfare­to­work implications that can help communities empower themselves to meet their local needs and reduce the isolation of low­income groups within the community.

Marketing and outreach activities

    Single Family has established Marketing and Outreach Divisions in each of its Homeownership Centers to promote the broad spectrum of programs available for first­time homebuyers and other underserved populations in the purchase of decent, affordable housing. In addition, there will be staff outstationed in most sites previously having a Single Family office. The Marketing and Outreach positions were created expressly to maintain contact with local communities so that Single Family could tailor its programs to match the needs of the individual communities.

Program Evaluation

The Department recently completed three evaluations related to community empowerment. These include evaluations of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program and the HOME program, which is the new housing block grant program. The third evaluation, "The Status and Prospects of the Nonprofit Housing Sector," discusses empowerment through the institutions of non-profit organizations.

The Office of Policy Development and Research will continue to conduct evaluations related to performance measurement. Ongoing work includes assessments of community empowerment through HOME and HOPE VI programs. Future evaluations are likely to include an evaluation of the Community Development Work Study Program.

Linkage to HUD 2020: Management Reform Plan

In order to assist the communities with the issues facing them, without increasing the levels of bureaucracy that have existed in the past, HUD will undertake several measures during FY 1998.

One of the major innovations will be to establish a new field structure consisting of Area Offices with representatives of all four major program areas and Area Resource Centers (ARCs), HUD's neighborhood "store-front" service centers. ARCs will provide customers and communities with access to the full range of HUD programs and services. State-of-the-art technology will enable ARC staff to access information, compile data, and produce materials to address customer needs and communicate with program staff in hubs, program centers, and offices assigned "back office" processing responsibilities.

    In addition, HUD will:

    • Select and train staff as Community Resource Representatives, responsible for helping customers gain access to the whole range of HUD services and coordinating with HUD program staff in hubs, program centers, and Field Offices performing "back office" processing functions.

    • Establish the Economic Development and Empowerment Service, aligning various job skills and other programs from CPD, PIH and Housing.

    Programmatically, HUD will:

    • Redesign HUD procurement and contracting functions to ensure accountability while responding flexibly to changing program needs.

    • Consolidate economic development and empowerment programs into the Economic Development and Empowerment Service to improve focus on community empowerment.

    • Use an advanced mapping software system (Community 2020) that shows communities the impact of HUD funding and activities in their area.

External Factors

HUD's ability to empower communities to a large extent hinges on the resources that poor communities can bring to bear in improving themselves. A slowdown in the overall economy will result in unemployment for the vulnerable working poor. A failure to find jobs for people affected by welfare reform similarly will result in diminished economic resources in distressed communities.

There are also inherent limitations on HUD's ability to "deliver" on quantitative goals within block grant programs, which, by their design, follow a "bottom up" process. Congress set up the four CPD block grant programs and the competitive homeless programs to ensure that the Federal Government did not dictate local policies or priorities. Rather it set up a system for community-based planning to ensure that local plans and priorities reflected changing community needs and priorities. We call this "community-based planning". The Consolidated Plan regulations and the program statutes upon which they were based provide limited grounds for rejecting a five year strategic plan or a one-year action plan. Similarly, the Notices of Funding Availability for the homeless competitive program ask communities to identify community homeless needs and priorities with maximum participation by homeless providers and other groups.

This means, quite simply, HUD cannot set up and deliver realistic numerical goals on "outputs" for any one given year for construction of housing, jobs, etc. Further, although HUD does have authority to sanction a community for failure to implement its program in a timely manner, we do not have any sanctions for the failure of a community to carry out HUD's current priorities. All that can be done is to highlight priority areas of the Department and encourage lagging communities to improve their performance in those priority areas.

In addition, factors such as poverty and individual challenges exacerbate problems that cause people and families to be without homes. Coordination and collaboration of housing and supportive services are crucial to breaking the cycle of homelessness. For some homeless persons, such as the handicapped, the attainable goal is self-sufficiency to the extent possible.

How annual performance goals support the achievement of this objective

Through the Consolidated Planning Process, grantees identify milestones for achievement within the applicable fiscal year. Within the confines of legislative mandates (see External Factors above), HUD will coordinate comprehensive, sustainable solutions to urban problems. Our annual goals include increasing the number of grantees who use viable milestones with timetables in their Consolidated/Action Plans and demonstrate progress in improving locally defined conditions. Ultimately, all communities meet this goal. In addition, HUD will measure the percentage of milestones achieved by cities, benchmarking the cities against one another. See Appendix I for specific performance measures.
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Content Archived: December 12, 2011