24 CFR § 570.209 - Guidelines for evaluating and selecting economic development projects.
The following guidelines are provided to assist the recipient to evaluate and select activities to be carried out for economic development purposes. Specifically, these guidelines are applicable to activities that are eligible for CDBG assistance under § 570.203. These guidelines also apply to activities carried out under the authority of § 570.204 that would otherwise be eligible under § 570.203, were it not for the involvement of a Community-Based Development Organization (CBDO). (This would include activities where a CBDO makes loans to for-profit businesses.) These guidelines are composed of two components: guidelines for evaluating project costs and financial requirements; and standards for evaluating public benefit. The standards for evaluating public benefit are mandatory, but the guidelines for evaluating projects costs and financial requirements are not.
(a) Guidelines and objectives for evaluating project costs and financial requirements. HUD has developed guidelines that are designed to provide the recipient with a framework for financially underwriting and selecting CDBG-assisted economic development projects which are financially viable and will make the most effective use of the CDBG funds. These guidelines, also referred to as the underwriting guidelines, are published as appendix A to this part. The use of the underwriting guidelines published by HUD is not mandatory. However, grantees electing not to use these guidelines would be expected to conduct basic financial underwriting prior to the provision of CDBG financial assistance to a for-profit business. Where appropriate, HUD's underwriting guidelines recognize that different levels of review are appropriate to take into account differences in the size and scope of a proposed project, and in the case of a microenterprise or other small business to take into account the differences in the capacity and level of sophistication among businesses of differing sizes. Recipients are encouraged, when they develop their own programs and underwriting criteria, to also take these factors into account. The objectives of the underwriting guidelines are to ensure:
(1) That project costs are reasonable;
(2) That all sources of project financing are committed;
(3) That to the extent practicable, CDBG funds are not substituted for non-Federal financial support;
(4) That the project is financially feasible;
(5) That to the extent practicable, the return on the owner's equity investment will not be unreasonably high; and
(6) That to the extent practicable, CDBG funds are disbursed on a pro rata basis with other finances provided to the project.
(b) Standards for evaluating public benefit. The grantee is responsible for making sure that at least a minimum level of public benefit is obtained from the expenditure of CDBG funds under the categories of eligibility governed by these guidelines. The standards set forth below identify the types of public benefit that will be recognized for this purpose and the minimum level of each that must be obtained for the amount of CDBG funds used. Unlike the guidelines for project costs and financial requirements covered under paragraph (a) of this section, the use of the standards for public benefit is mandatory. Certain public facilities and improvements eligible under § 570.201(c) of the regulations, which are undertaken for economic development purposes, are also subject to these standards, as specified in § 570.208(a)(4)(vi)(F)(2).
(1) Standards for activities in the aggregate. Activities covered by these guidelines must, in the aggregate, either:
(i) Create or retain at least one full-time equivalent, permanent job per $35,000 of CDBG funds used; or
(ii) Provide goods or services to residents of an area, such that the number of low- and moderate-income persons residing in the areas served by the assisted businesses amounts to at least one low- and moderate-income person per $350 of CDBG funds used.
(2) Applying the aggregate standards.
(i) A metropolitan city, an urban county, a non-entitlement CDBG grantee in Hawaii, or an Insular Area shall apply the aggregate standards under paragraph (b)(1) of this section to all applicable activities for which CDBG funds are first obligated within each single CDBG program year, without regard to the source year of the funds used for the activities. For Insular Areas, the preceding sentence applies to grants received in program years after Fiscal Year 2004. A grantee under the HUD-administered Small Cities Program, or Insular Areas CDBG grants prior to Fiscal Year 2005, shall apply the aggregate standards under paragraph (b)(1) of this section to all funds obligated for applicable activities from a given grant; program income obligated for applicable activities will, for these purposes, be aggregated with the most recent open grant. For any time period in which a community has no open HUD-administered or Insular Areas grants, the aggregate standards shall be applied to all applicable activities for which program income is obligated during that period.
(ii) The grantee shall apply the aggregate standards to the number of jobs to be created/retained, or to the number of persons residing in the area served (as applicable), as determined at the time funds are obligated to activities.
(iii) Where an activity is expected both to create or retain jobs and to provide goods or services to residents of an area, the grantee may elect to count the activity under either the jobs standard or the area residents standard, but not both.
(iv) Where CDBG assistance for an activity is limited to job training and placement and/or other employment support services, the jobs assisted with CDBG funds shall be considered to be created or retained jobs for the purposes of applying the aggregate standards.
(v) Any activity subject to these guidelines which meets one or more of the following criteria may, at the grantee's option, be excluded from the aggregate standards described in paragraph (b)(1) of this section:
(A) Provides jobs exclusively for unemployed persons or participants in one or more of the following programs:
(2) Jobs Opportunities for Basic Skills (JOBS); or
(3) Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC);
(B) Provides jobs predominantly for residents of Public and Indian Housing units;
(C) Provides jobs predominantly for homeless persons;
(D) Provides jobs predominantly for low-skilled, low- and moderate-income persons, where the business agrees to provide clear opportunities for promotion and economic advancement, such as through the provision of training;
(E) Provides jobs predominantly for persons residing within a census tract (or block numbering area) that has at least 20 percent of its residents who are in poverty;
(F) Provides assistance to business(es) that operate(s) within a census tract (or block numbering area) that has at least 20 percent of its residents who are in poverty;
(G) Stabilizes or revitalizes a neighborhood that has at least 70 percent of its residents who are low- and moderate-income;
(H) Provides assistance to a Community Development Financial Institution that serve an area that is predominantly low- and moderate-income persons;
(I) Provides assistance to a Community-Based Development Organization serving a neighborhood that has at least 70 percent of its residents who are low- and moderate-income;
(J) Provides employment opportunities that are an integral component of a project designed to promote spatial deconcentration of low- and moderate-income and minority persons;
(K) With prior HUD approval, provides substantial benefit to low-income persons through other innovative approaches;
(L) Provides services to the residents of an area pursuant to a strategy approved by HUD under the provisions of § 91.215(e) of this title;
(M) Creates or retains jobs through businesses assisted in an area pursuant to a strategy approved by HUD under the provisions of § 91.215(e) of this title.
(N) Directly involves the economic development or redevelopment of environmentally contaminated properties.
(3) Standards for individual activities. Any activity subject to these guidelines which falls into one or more of the following categories will be considered by HUD to provide insufficient public benefit, and therefore may under no circumstances be assisted with CDBG funds:
(i) The amount of CDBG assistance exceeds either of the following, as applicable:
(A) $50,000 per full-time equivalent, permanent job created or retained; or
(B) $1,000 per low- and moderate-income person to which goods or services are provided by the activity.
(ii) The activity consists of or includes any of the following:
(A) General promotion of the community as a whole (as opposed to the promotion of specific areas and programs);
(B) Assistance to professional sports teams;
(C) Assistance to privately-owned recreational facilities that serve a predominantly higher-income clientele, where the recreational benefit to users or members clearly outweighs employment or other benefits to low- and moderate-income persons;
(D) Acquisition of land for which the specific proposed use has not yet been identified; and
(E) Assistance to a for-profit business while that business or any other business owned by the same person(s) or entity(ies) is the subject of unresolved findings of noncompliance relating to previous CDBG assistance provided by the recipient.
(4) Applying the individual activity standards.
(i) Where an activity is expected both to create or retain jobs and to provide goods or services to residents of an area, it will be disqualified only if the amount of CDBG assistance exceeds both of the amounts in paragraph (b)(3)(i) of this section.
(ii) The individual activity standards in paragraph (b)(3)(i) of this section shall be applied to the number of jobs to be created or retained, or to the number of persons residing in the area served (as applicable), as determined at the time funds are obligated to activities.
(iii) Where CDBG assistance for an activity is limited to job training and placement and/or other employment support services, the jobs assisted with CDBG funds shall be considered to be created or retained jobs for the purposes of applying the individual activity standards in paragraph (b)(3)(i) of this section.
(c) Amendments to economic development projects after review determinations. If, after the grantee enters into a contract to provide assistance to a project, the scope or financial elements of the project change to the extent that a significant contract amendment is appropriate, the project should be reevaluated under these and the recipient's guidelines. (This would include, for example, situations where the business requests a change in the amount or terms of assistance being provided, or an extension to the loan payment period required in the contract.) If a reevaluation of the project indicates that the financial elements and public benefit to be derived have also substantially changed, then the recipient should make appropriate adjustments in the amount, type, terms or conditions of CDBG assistance which has been offered, to reflect the impact of the substantial change. (For example, if a change in the project elements results in a substantial reduction of the total project costs, it may be appropriate for the recipient to reduce the amount of total CDBG assistance.) If the amount of CDBG assistance provided to the project is increased, the amended project must still comply with the public benefit standards under paragraph (b) of this section.
(d) Documentation. The grantee must maintain sufficient records to demonstrate the level of public benefit, based on the above standards, that is actually achieved upon completion of the CDBG-assisted economic development activity(ies) and how that compares to the level of such benefit anticipated when the CDBG assistance was obligated. If the grantee's actual results show a pattern of substantial variation from anticipated results, the grantee is expected to take all actions reasonably within its control to improve the accuracy of its projections. If the actual results demonstrate that the recipient has failed the public benefit standards, HUD may require the recipient to meet more stringent standards in future years as appropriate.