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Action Plan Needed for Oregon to Access $422M in Federal Funding for Wildfire Recovery

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The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has released the Federal Register Notice that will allow Oregon Housing and Community Service (OHCS) to move forward on developing an action plan for $422 million in Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR). The funding will be used for recovery from the 2020 Labor Day wildfires. 

The release of the Federal Register Notice does not give Oregon access to the CDBG-DR funds. HUD requires that Oregon complete a series of steps, primarily the completion of an Action Plan, before Oregon can receive funds. Once HUD approves a final Action Plan, the new funds will allow OHCS to address long-term unmet recovery needs of survivors in disaster areas.

The Federal Register Notice identified six counties and one ZIP Code as the areas most impacted and distressed by the wildfires. Federal regulations require the state to use 80 percent of the funding to benefit those locations. The most-impacted areas as designated by HUD are Clackamas, Douglas, Jackson, Lane, Lincoln, and Marion counties, as well as the 97358 Zip Code in Linn County.

The federal funding is part of $5 billion that Congress appropriated for disaster relief in October. CDBG-DR program funds are used to help those most impacted, especially low-income residents needing housing recovery assistance, to recover from presidentially declared disasters.

“This important step by the federal government will allow OHCS to develop an action plan on how to get the federal funds to those wildfire survivors who need it the most,” said OHCS Executive Director Margaret Salazar. “On top of the $150 million allocation from the Oregon Legislature, not only will this additional funding help survivors recover and rebuild, it also will provide resources to put measures into place aimed at preventing future housing instability caused by wildfires.”

The Federal Register Notice requires a series of steps OHCS must take before accessing funds. These steps include an Unmet Needs Assessment, a Mitigation Needs Assessment, an Action Plan with public comment, a public engagement process, and a certification process. OHCS has already started work on these required steps, but it will take months before funding is accessible.

The state also is required to develop a Citizen Participation Plan that describes how the public will be informed and engaged throughout the grant’s lifecycle. Before the Action Plan is finalized, the public will be invited to review and submit feedback on a draft plan.  

OHCS expects a Draft Action Plan to be completed ahead of HUD’s June deadline. Once complete, the draft plan will be published and made available for a 30-day public comment period. Once the public comment period is complete, HUD will take up to 60 days to review the action plan before funds can be spent.

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