Modernizing HUD's Consolidated Planning Process To Narrow the Digital Divide and Increase Resilience to Natural Hazards, 31192-31201 [2016-11350]

Download as PDF 31192 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 96 / Wednesday, May 18, 2016 / Proposed Rules broadband infrastructure, as this term is also defined in 24 CFR 5.100, except where the PHA documents that: § 891.120 Project design and cost (1) The location of the new standards. construction or substantial * * * * * rehabilitation makes installation of (f) Broadband infrastructure. Any new broadband infrastructure infeasible; construction or substantial (2) The cost of installing broadband rehabilitation, as defined by 24 CFR infrastructure would result in a 5.100, of a building with more than 4 fundamental alteration in the nature of rental units must include installation of its program or activity or in an undue broadband infrastructure, as this term is financial burden; or (3) The structure of the housing to be also defined in 24 CFR 5.100, except rehabilitated makes installation of where the owner documents that: broadband infrastructure infeasible. (1) The location of the new construction or substantial PART 983—PROJECT–BASED rehabilitation makes installation of VOUCHER (PBV) PROGRAM broadband infrastructure infeasible; (2) The cost of installing broadband ■ 32. The authority citation for part 983 infrastructure would result in a continues to read as follows: fundamental alteration in the nature of Authority: 42 U.S.C. 1437f and 3535(d). its program or activity or in an undue ■ 33. Add § 983.157 to subpart D to read financial burden; or as follows: (3) The structure of the housing to be substantially rehabilitated makes § 983.157 Broadband infrastructure. installation of broadband infrastructure Any new construction or substantial infeasible. rehabilitation, as defined by 24 CFR ■ 29. Add § 891.550 to subpart E to read 5.100, of a building with more than 4 as follows: rental units must include installation of broadband infrastructure, as this term is § 891.550 Broadband infrastructure. also defined in 24 CFR 5.100, except Any new construction or substantial where the owner documents that: rehabilitation, as defined by 24 CFR (1) The location of the new 5.100, of a building with more than 4 construction or substantial rental units must include installation of broadband infrastructure, as this term is rehabilitation makes installation of broadband infrastructure infeasible; also defined in 24 CFR 5.100, except (2) The cost of installing broadband where the owner documents that: infrastructure would result in a (1) The location of the new fundamental alteration in the nature of construction or substantial its program or activity or in an undue rehabilitation makes installation of financial burden; or broadband infrastructure infeasible; (3) The structure of the housing to be (2) The cost of installing broadband substantially rehabilitated makes infrastructure would result in a installation of broadband infrastructure fundamental alteration in the nature of infeasible. its program or activity or in an undue Dated: April 21, 2016. financial burden; or ´ Julian Castro, (3) The structure of the housing to be Secretary. substantially rehabilitated makes [FR Doc. 2016–11352 Filed 5–17–16; 8:45 am] installation of broadband infrastructure infeasible. BILLING CODE 4210–67–P 28. In § 891.120, add paragraph (f) to read as follows: ■ PART 905—THE PUBLIC HOUSING CAPITAL FUND PROGRAM 30. The authority citation for part 905 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 42 U.S.C. 1437g, 42 U.S.C. 1437z-2, 42 U.S.C. 1437z-7, and 3535(d). RIN 2506–AC41 31. In § 905.312, add paragraph (e) to read as follows: ehiers on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Design and construction. * * * * * (e) Broadband infrastructure. Any new construction or substantial rehabilitation, as defined in 24 CFR 5.100, of a building with more than 4 rental units must include installation of VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:26 May 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 24 CFR Part 91 [Docket No. FR 5891–P–01] ■ § 905.312 DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT Modernizing HUD’s Consolidated Planning Process To Narrow the Digital Divide and Increase Resilience to Natural Hazards Office of the Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development, Department of Housing and Urban Development. AGENCY: PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 ACTION: Proposed rule. HUD’s Consolidated Plan is a planning mechanism designed to help States and local governments to assess their affordable housing and community development needs and to make datadriven, place-based investment decisions. The consolidated planning process serves as the framework for a community-wide dialogue to identify housing and community development priorities that align and focus funding from HUD’s formula block grant programs. This proposed rule would amend HUD’s Consolidated Plan regulations to require that jurisdictions consider two additional concepts in their planning efforts. The first concept is how to address the need for broadband access for lowand moderate-income residents in the communities they serve. Broadband is the common term used to refer to a high-speed, always on connection to the Internet. Such connection is also referred to as high-speed broadband or high-speed Internet. Specifically, the proposed rule would require that States and localities that submit a consolidated plan describe the broadband access in housing occupied by low- and moderate-income households. If lowincome residents in the communities do not have such access, States and jurisdictions must consider providing broadband access to these residents into their decisions on how to invest HUD funds. The second concept to be added to the Consolidated Plan process would require jurisdictions to consider incorporating resilience to natural hazard risks, taking care to anticipate how risks will increase due to climate change, into development of the Plan in order to begin addressing impacts of climate change on low- and moderateincome residents. DATES: Comments Due Date: July 18, 2016. SUMMARY: Interested persons are invited to submit comments responsive to this proposed rule to the Office of General Counsel, Regulations Division, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th Street SW., Room 10276, Washington, DC 20410–0001. All submissions should refer to the above docket number and title. Submission of public comments may be carried out by hard copy or electronic submission. 1. Submission of Hard Copy Comments. Comments may be submitted by mail or hand delivery. Each commenter submitting hard copy comments, by mail or hand delivery, should submit comments to the address above, addressed to the attention of the ADDRESSES: E:\FR\FM\18MYP1.SGM 18MYP1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 96 / Wednesday, May 18, 2016 / Proposed Rules Regulations Division. Due to security measures at all federal agencies, submission of comments by mail often results in delayed delivery. To ensure timely receipt of comments, HUD recommends that any comments submitted by mail be submitted at least 2 weeks in advance of the public comment deadline. All hard copy comments received by mail or hand delivery are a part of the public record and will be posted to http:// www.regulations.gov without change. 2. Electronic Submission of Comments. Interested persons may submit comments electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. HUD strongly encourages commenters to submit comments electronically. Electronic submission of comments allows the commenter maximum time to prepare and submit a comment, ensures timely receipt by HUD, and enables HUD to make comments immediately available to the public. Comments submitted electronically through the http://www.regulations.gov Web site can be viewed by other commenters and interested members of the public. Commenters should follow instructions provided on that site to submit comments electronically. No Facsimile Comments. Facsimile (fax) comments are not acceptable. Public Inspection of Comments. All comments submitted to HUD regarding this rule will be available, without charge, for public inspection and copying between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Eastern Time, weekdays at the above address. Due to security measures at the HUD Headquarters building, an advance appointment to review the public comments must be scheduled by calling the Regulations Division at 202–708– 3055 (this is not a toll-free number). Individuals with speech or hearing impairments may access this number through TTY by calling the Federal Relay Service at 800–877–8339 (this is a toll-free number). Copies of all comments submitted are available for inspection and downloading at http:// www.regulations.gov. Lora Routt, Senior Advisor, Office of Community Planning and Development, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Community Planning and Development, 451 7th Street SW., Suite 7204, Washington, DC 20410 at 202–402–4492, (this is not a toll-free number). Individuals with speech or hearing impairments may access this number via TTY by calling the Federal Relay Service, toll-free, at 800–877–8339. ehiers on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:26 May 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 Persons with hearing or speech impairments may access this number through TTY by calling the Federal Relay Service at 800–877–8339 (this is a toll-free number). SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Executive Summary A. Purpose of This Proposed Rule The purpose of this proposed rule is to require States and local governments to evaluate the availability of broadband access and the vulnerability of housing occupied by low- and moderate income households to natural hazard risks, many of which may be increasing due to climate change, in their consolidated planning efforts. These evaluations will be conducted using readily available data sources developed by Federal government agencies and other available data and analyses, including State, Tribal, and local hazard mitigation plans that have been approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Where access to broadband Internet service is not currently available or is minimally available (such as in certain rural areas), States and local governments must consider ways to bring broadband Internet access to low- and moderate-income residents, including how HUD funds could be used to narrow the digital divide for these residents. Further, where low- and moderate-income communities are at risk of natural hazards, including those that are expected to increase due to climate change, States and local governments must consider ways to incorporate appropriate hazard mitigation and resilience into their community planning and development goals, codes, and standards, including the use of HUD funds. These two planning considerations reflect emerging needs of communities in this changing world. Broadband access provides access to a wide range of resources, services, and products and such access not only can assist individuals in improving their economic outlook, but also assists communities in this same way. Analysis of natural hazards, including the anticipated effects of climate change on those hazards, is important to help ensure that jurisdictions are aware of existing and developing vulnerabilities in the geographic areas that they serve that can threaten the health and safety of the populations they serve. B. Summary of Major Provisions of This Proposed Rule The current regulations require that local governments and States consult public and private agencies that provide PO 00000 Frm 00013 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 31193 assisted housing, health services, and social and fair housing services during preparation of the consolidated plan. Under the current regulations, local governments and States are also required in their citizen participation plan to encourage the participation of local and regional institutions and businesses in the process of developing and implementing their consolidated plans. The proposed rule would require States and local governments, in preparing their consolidated plans, to add to the list of public and private agencies and entities that they now must consult with for preparation of their plans, to consult with public and private organizations, including broadband Internet service providers, organizations engaged in narrowing the digital divide (e.g., schools, digital literacy organizations), and agencies whose primary responsibilities include the management of floodprone areas, public land or water resources, and emergency management agencies. Jurisdictions must also encourage the participation of these entities in implementing relevant components of the plan. The proposed rule would also require jurisdictions to describe broadband access in housing occupied by low- and moderate-income households based on an analysis of data for its low- and moderate-income neighborhoods in the National Broadband Map 1 created by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the Department of Commerce. Grantees may also use broadband availability data in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Form 477 2 or other data identified by the jurisdiction, for which the source is cited in the jurisdiction’s Consolidated Plan. These needs include the need for broadband wiring and for connection to the broadband service in the household units, the need for increased competition by having more than one broadband Internet service provider serve the jurisdiction. The proposed rule would also require that jurisdictions provide, as part of their required housing market analysis, an assessment of natural hazard risks, including risks expected to increase due to climate change, to low- and moderate-income residents based on an analysis of data, findings, and methods in (1) the most recent National Climate 1 See http://www.broadbandmap.gov. https://www.fcc.gov/general/broadbanddeployment-data-fcc-form-477. 2 See E:\FR\FM\18MYP1.SGM 18MYP1 31194 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 96 / Wednesday, May 18, 2016 / Proposed Rules ehiers on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Assessment,3 the Climate Resilience Toolkit,4 the Impact of Climate Change and Population Growth on the National Flood Insurance Program Through 2100,5 or the Community Resilience Planning Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems prepared by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); 6 (2) other climate risk-related data published by the Federal government or other State or local government climate risk related data, including FEMA-approved hazard mitigation plans which incorporate climate change; or (3) other climate risk data identified by the jurisdiction, for which the source is cited in the jurisdiction’s Consolidated Plan. Grantees may request Technical Assistance through their HUD Field Office or directly at www.HUDExchange.info/get-assistance. C. Costs and Benefits of This Proposed Rule HUD’s Consolidated Plan process, established by regulation in 1994, provides a comprehensive planning process for HUD programs administered by HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development, specifically the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, the HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) program, Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) program and the Housing with Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA). Comprehensive community planning provides officials with an informative profile of their communities in terms of population, housing, economic base, community facilities, and transportation systems, and such information aids officials in their investment decisions. HUD’s Consolidated Planning process assists State and local officials that are recipients of HUD funds under the above-listed programs in determining the housing and community development needs of their respective communities. Requiring consolidated plan jurisdictions to consider the broadband and natural hazard resilience needs of their communities helps to ensure a more complete profile of the needs of their communities. As discussed in this preamble, the importance of providing broadband access to all cannot be overstated. Broadband access is not only important to increasing opportunity for an 3 See http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/ highlights#submenu-highlights-overview. 4 See https://toolkit.climate.gov. 5 See http://www.acclimatise.uk.com/login/ uploaded/resources/FEMA_NFIP_report.pdf. 6 See http://nvlpubs.nist.gov/nistpubs/ SpecialPublications/NIST.SP.1197.pdf. VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:26 May 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 individual’s success, but to the success of a community. Consideration of the impact of natural hazard risks, many of which are anticipated to increase due to climate change, in one’s community, and how communities can help mitigate any such adverse impacts, is equally important as it will help to guide the best use of land and orderly and sustainable growth. In brief, the benefits of this proposed rule are to promote a balanced planning process that more fully considers the housing, environmental, and economic needs of communities. HUD does not anticipate that the costs of the revised consultation and reporting requirements will be significant since the regulatory changes proposed by this proposed rule merely build upon similar existing requirements for other elements covered by the consolidated planning process rather than mandating completely new procedures. Further, the required assessments will be based on data readily available on the Internet. Therefore, jurisdictions will not have to incur the expense and administrative burdens associated with collecting data. Moreover, this proposed rule does not mandate that actions be taken to address broadband needs or climate change adaptation needs. Consolidated plan jurisdictions are in the best position to decide how to expend their HUD funds. However, HUD believes that the additional analyses required by this rule may highlight areas where expenditure of funds would assist in opening up economic opportunities through increased broadband access or mitigate the impact of possible natural hazards, including those that may be exacerbated due to climate change. HUD leaves it to jurisdictions to consider any appropriate methods to promote broadband access or protect against the adverse impacts of climate change, taking into account the other needs of their communities, and available funding, as identified through the consolidated planning process. II. Background A. Broadband On March 23, 2015, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum on ‘‘Expanding Broadband Deployment and Adoption by Addressing Regulatory Barriers and Encouraging Investment and Training.’’ 7 In this memorandum, the President noted that access to highspeed broadband is no longer a luxury, 7 See https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-pressoffice/2015/03/23/presidential-memorandumexpanding-broadband-deployment-and-adoptionaddr. PO 00000 Frm 00014 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 but it is a necessity for American families, businesses, and consumers.8 The President further noted that the Federal government has an important role to play in developing coordinated policies to promote broadband deployment and adoption, including promoting best practices, breaking down regulatory barriers, and encouraging further investment. The memorandum established an interagency Broadband Opportunity Council, including representatives from the Executive Branch agencies, for the purposes of consulting with State, local, tribal, and territorial governments, as well as telecommunications companies, utilities, trade associations, philanthropic entities, policy experts, and other interested parties to identify and assess regulatory barriers and opportunities to broadband adoption. The council’s report, published by the White House on September 21, 2015, included a number of specific actions that agencies (including HUD) agreed to take to promote greater broadband deployment and adoption. This change to the Consolidated Planning process is one of those actions.9 On July 15, 2015, HUD launched its Digital Opportunity Demonstration, known as ‘‘ConnectHome,’’ in which HUD provided a platform for collaboration among local governments, public housing agencies, Internet service providers, philanthropic foundations, nonprofit organizations and other relevant stakeholders to work together to produce local solutions for narrowing the digital divide in communities across the nation served by HUD.10 The demonstration, or pilot as it is also called, commenced with the participation of 28 communities. Through contributions made by the Internet service providers and other organizations participating in the pilot, these 28 communities will benefit from the ConnectHome collaboration by 8 The Web page for the National Broadband Map explains that ‘‘broadband refers to a high-speed, always-on connection to the Internet. The primary factors that people consider when deciding what type of broadband Internet service to subscribe to include service availability, connection speed, technology and price. Organizations define broadband in different ways. For information to be included on the National Broadband Map, the technology must provide a two-way data transmission (to and from the Internet) with advertised speeds of at least 768 kilobits per second (kbps) downstream and at least 200 kbps upstream to end users.’’ Please see http:// www.broadbandmap.gov/. 9 See, Broadband Opportunity Council, Report to President Obama at p. 14 (Aug. 20, 2015), available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/ broadband_opportunity_council_report_final.pdf . 10 See https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-pressoffice/2015/07/15/fact-sheet-connecthome-comingtogether-ensure-digital-opportunity-all. E:\FR\FM\18MYP1.SGM 18MYP1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 96 / Wednesday, May 18, 2016 / Proposed Rules B. Natural Hazards Resilience On November 1, 2013, President Obama signed Executive Order 13653, on ‘‘Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change.’’ 13 The Executive Order recognizes that the impacts of climate change—including an increase in prolonged periods of excessively high temperatures, more heavy downpours, an increase in wildfires, more severe droughts, permafrost thawing, ocean acidification, and sea-level rise—are often most significant for communities that already face economic or health-related challenges. Research has developed the concept of social vulnerability, which describes characteristics (age, gender, socioeconomic status, special needs, race, and ethnicity) of populations that influence their capacity to prepare for, respond to, and recover from hazards and disasters, including the sensitivity of a population to climate change impacts and how different people or groups are more or less vulnerable to those impacts. Social vulnerability and equity in the context of climate change are important because some populations may have less capacity to prepare for, respond to, and recover from climaterelated hazards and effects.14 Executive Order 13653 asserts that managing these risks requires deliberate preparation, close cooperation, and coordinated planning by the federal government, State, Tribal, and local governments, and stakeholders. Further, the Executive Order calls upon Federal agencies to identify opportunities to support and encourage smarter, more climateresilient investments by States, local communities, and tribes, through grants and other programs, in the context of infrastructure development. Section 7 of Executive Order 13653 established the President’s State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Change Resilience and Preparedness (Task Force). Co-chaired by the Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, the Task Force consisted of 26 governors, mayors, county officials, and Tribal leaders from across the United States. Members brought first-hand experiences in building climate preparedness and resilience in their communities and conducted broad outreach to thousands of government agencies, trade associations, planning agencies, academic institutions, and other stakeholders, to inform their recommendations to the Administration. The President charged the Task Force with providing recommendations on 11 https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/ 2016/03/09/fact-sheet-president-obama-announcesconnectall-initiative. 12 80 FR18248, at 18249. 13 Executive Order 13653 was subsequently published in the Federal Register on November 6, 2013, at 78 FR 66819. 14 A summary of research on social vulnerability is provided in Kathy Lynn, Katharine MacKendrick, and Ellen M. Donoghue, Social Vulnerability and Climate Change: Synthesis of Literature (United States Department of Agriculture, August 2011), available online at: http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/pubs/ pnw_gtr838.pdf. ehiers on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS receiving, for the residents living in HUD public and assisted housing in these communities, broadband infrastructure, technical assistance, literacy training, and electronic devices that provide for accessing high-speed Internet. On March 9, 2016, President Obama launched the ConnectALL initiative to ensure that more Americans have the broadband they need to get a job, engage their community, and deliver opportunity to their children.11 ConnectALL will increase the affordability of broadband for lowincome Americans; deliver digital literacy skills; increase access to affordable devices; develop a tool to support broadband planning; bring together private sector corporations helping to deliver affordable connectivity; and marshal philanthropic support for digital inclusion. The goal of ConnectALL is to create a national effort to connect 20 million more Americans to broadband by 2020. The importance of all Americans having access to the Internet cannot be overstated. As HUD stated in its announcement of the Digital Opportunity Demonstration, published in the Federal Register on April 3, 2015, at 80 FR 18248, ‘‘[k]nowledge is a pillar to achieving the American Dream—a catalyst for upward mobility as well as an investment that ensures each generation is as successful as the last.’’ 12 Many low-income Americans do not have broadband Internet at home, contributing to the estimated 66 million Americans who are without the most basic digital literacy skills. Without broadband access and connectivity and the skills to use Internet technology at home, children will miss out on the high-value educational, economic, and social impact that high-speed Internet provides. It is for these reasons that HUD is exploring ways, beyond ConnectHome, to narrow the digital divide for the low-income individuals and families served by HUD multifamily rental housing programs. This proposed rule presents one such additional effort. VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:26 May 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 PO 00000 Frm 00015 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 31195 how the Federal government can respond to the needs of communities nationwide that are dealing with the impacts of climate change by removing barriers to resilient investments, modernizing Federal grant and loan programs to better support local efforts, and developing the information and tools they need to prepare, among other measures. In November 2014, Task Force members presented their recommendations for the President at a White House meeting with Vice President Biden and other senior Administration officials.15 Among other actions, the Task Force called on HUD to consider strategies within existing grant programs to facilitate and encourage integrated hazard mitigation approaches that address climate-change related risks, land use, development codes and standards, and capital improvement planning. This proposed rule represents one step that HUD is taking to implement these recommendations. III. This Proposed Rule HUD’s consolidated planning process serves as the framework for a community-wide dialogue to identify housing and community development priorities that align and focus funding from the HUD formula block grant programs: Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) program, Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) program, and Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) program. HUD’s regulations for the consolidated planning are codified at 24 CFR part 91(entitled ‘‘Consolidated Submissions for Community Planning and Development Programs’’). The Consolidated Plan, which may have a planning duration of between 3 and 5 years, is designed to help States and local governments assess their affordable housing and community development needs, in the context of market conditions at the time of their planning, and to make data-driven, place-based decisions on how to expend HUD funds in their jurisdictions. In developing their consolidated plans, States and local governments are required to engage their communities, both in the process of developing and reviewing the proposed plan, and as partners and stakeholders in the implementation of the plan. By consulting and collaborating with other public and private entities, States and local governments can better align and 15 https://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/ eop/ceq/initiatives/resilience/taskforce. E:\FR\FM\18MYP1.SGM 18MYP1 ehiers on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 31196 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 96 / Wednesday, May 18, 2016 / Proposed Rules coordinate community development programs with a range of other plans, programs, and resources to achieve greater impact. A jurisdiction’s consolidated plan is carried out through annual action plans, which provide a concise summary of the actions, activities, and the specific Federal and non-federal resources that will be used each year to address the priority needs and specific goals identified by the Consolidated Plan. States and local governments report on accomplishments and progress toward consolidated plan goals in the Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report (CAPER). The regulatory amendments proposed by this rule would require States and local governments to consider broadband access and natural hazard resilience as part of their consolidated planning efforts. As provided in this proposed rule, States and local governments will need to consider the broadband needs of their low- and moderate-income residents, and the extent that available broadband Internet service providers and technology support these residents’ broadband access needs. Where the required analysis demonstrates that such support is not currently available or is minimally available, States and local governments should consider ways to bring broadband Internet access to these residents, such as the extent to which broadband Internet service providers could be solicited to contribute to the broadband access needs of low-income residents, or how HUD funds could be used to narrow the digital divide for low- and moderate-income residents. Further, where the required analysis demonstrates that low- and moderateincome communities are at risk of natural hazards, including those that may be exacerbated due to climate change, States and local governments should consider ways to incorporate hazard mitigation and resilience into their community planning and development goals, development codes, and standards, including how HUD funds could be used to mitigate natural hazard risks, including increasing risks due to climate change, with other Federal, State, local, philanthropic, and private sector funding. In this regard, President Obama’s Administration is committed to giving communities across the United States the information and tools they need to plan for current and future climate change impacts, such as flooding and sea-level rise. In March 2014, the Administration launched the Climate Data Initiative, an effort to make vast Federal data resources on climate change risks and impacts openly VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:26 May 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 available to the public.16 Following a major disaster designation, jurisdictions should consider reviewing and possibly revising the required resilience analysis. Such a review would assist jurisdictions in determining whether the disaster has introduced new or unanticipated hazard risks and consequences or unmet needs. Such a review would assist jurisdictions in deciding how best to use HUD funds to address new resilience-related and disaster recovery-related needs. HUD specifically invites public comments on the need for this type of post-disaster review and the possibility of requiring such a reevaluation at the final rule stage. This proposed rule is one part of a broader set of Administration and HUD initiatives to narrow the digital divide and enhance climate resilience in lowincome communities. Given the focus of the consolidated plan on housing needs, the assessments required by the proposed rule are limited to broadband access in housing and the vulnerability of housing to natural hazard risks. HUD, however, is cognizant of the critical non-housing needs of low-income communities. The adoption of broadband, which includes digital literacy by low-income residents is an equally critical component of closing the digital divide. Likewise, the evaluation of vulnerability to natural hazard risks on a broader, communitywide, level is an equally significant component of ensuring the resilience of low-income households. Under 24 CFR 91.215 (for local governments) and 24 CFR 92.315 (for States), jurisdictions must provide a description of priority non-housing community development needs eligible for assistance under HUD’s community development programs. Given the importance of broadband adoption to communities and the goals of this rulemaking, HUD strongly encourages jurisdictions to consider implementing such actions in their non-housing community development efforts. Similarly, HUD strongly encourages jurisdictions to consider the use of block grant funds for actions that enhance the resilience of communities to natural hazard risks as a whole. To this end, jurisdictions should consider basing such actions on the FEMA-approved State, Tribal, and local hazard mitigation plans that may be used to conduct the housing-specific assessments required by the proposed rule. In addition, HUD continues to encourage regional planning considerations, and maintains the requirement for local governments and 16 See PO 00000 http://www.data.gov/climate/. Frm 00016 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 States to, in their citizen participation plan, encourage the participation of local and regional institutions and businesses in the process of developing and implementing their consolidated plans. The proposed rule would make the following changes to the Consolidated Plan regulations: 1. Consultation and citizen participation requirements (§§ 91.100.91.105. 91.110, 91.115). The current regulations require that local governments and States consult public and private agencies that provide assisted housing, health services, and social and fair housing services during preparation of the consolidated plan. Under the current regulations, local governments and States are also required, in their citizen participation plan, to encourage the participation of local and regional institutions and businesses in the process of developing and implementing their consolidated plans. The proposed rule would amend these requirements to specify that local governments and States must consult with public and private organizations, including broadband Internet service providers, and other organizations engaged in narrowing the digital divide. Further, the citizen participation plan must encourage their participation in implementing any components of the plan designed to narrow the digital divide for low-income residents. The proposed rule would also require local governments and States to consult with agencies whose primary responsibilities include the management of floodprone areas, public land or water resources, and emergency management agencies in the process of developing the consolidated plan. 2. Contents of Consolidated Plan (§§ 91.5, 91.200, 9.200, 91.210, 91.300, 91.310). The proposed rule would make several changes to subparts C and D of HUD’s regulations 24 CFR part 91, which establish the required contents of the consolidated plan. First, the proposed rule would require that, in describing their consultation efforts, local governments and States describe their consultations with public and private organizations, including broadband Internet service providers, other organizations engaged in narrowing the digital divide, agencies whose primary responsibilities include the management of floodprone areas, public land or water resources, and emergency management agencies. Second, the jurisdiction must also describe broadband needs in housing occupied by low- and moderate-income households based on an analysis of data for its low- and moderate-income E:\FR\FM\18MYP1.SGM 18MYP1 ehiers on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 96 / Wednesday, May 18, 2016 / Proposed Rules neighborhoods in the National Broadband Map. The National Broadband Map Web site may be accessed at http:// www.broadbandmap.gov/. Grantees may also use broadband availability data in the FCC Form 477 or other data identified by the jurisdiction, for which the source is cited in the jurisdiction’s Consolidated Plan. These needs include the need for broadband wiring and for connection to the broadband service in the household units, the need for increased competition by having more than one broadband Internet service provider serve the jurisdiction. Third, the proposed rule would also require the jurisdiction to provide an assessment of natural hazard risk to low- and moderate-income residents based on an analysis of data, findings and methods in (1) the most recent National Climate Assessment, the Climate Resilience Toolkit, the Impact of Climate Change and Population Growth on the National Flood Insurance Program Through 2100, or the Community Resilience Planning Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems prepared by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); (2) other climate risk-related data published by the Federal government or other State or local government climate risk related data, including FEMA-approved hazard mitigation plans which incorporate climate change; or (3) other climate risk data identified by the jurisdiction, for which the source is cited in the jurisdiction’s Consolidated Plan. The National Climate Assessment, located at http:// nca2014.globalchange.gov/, summarizes the impacts of climate change on the United States, now and in the future. A team of more than 300 experts guided by a 60-member Federal Advisory Committee produced the report, which was extensively reviewed by the public and experts, including federal agencies and a panel of the National Academy of Sciences.17 The Climate Resilience Toolkit, located at http://toolkit.climate.gov provides science-based tools, information, and expertise to help people manage their climate-related risks and opportunities, and improve their resilience to extreme events. The site is designed to serve interested citizens, communities, businesses, resource managers, planners, and policy leaders at all levels of government. The Climate Resilience Toolkit was developed over a six-month period in 2014 by a partnership of federal agencies and organizations led by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.18 FEMA sponsored the report on Impact of Climate Change and Population Growth on the National Flood Insurance Program (available at http:// www.acclimatise.uk.com/login/ uploaded/resources/FEMA_NFIP_ report.pdf) to fulfill a recommendation made by the Government Accountability Office to analyze the potential long-term implications of climate change and population growth on the National Flood Insurance Program. The study addresses riverine and coastal flood response to climate change, with projections at 20-year intervals through 2100, and found that the national average increase in floodprone areas by the year 2100 may approximate 40–45% for riverine areas and coastal areas. The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Community Resilience Planning Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems, located at http://www.nist.gov/el/resilience, provides a six-step planning process that towns, cities, and counties can apply to better withstand hazard events and recovery more quickly. It provides a practical approach to help communities set priorities, allocate resources, and adopt codes and standards to reduce natural hazard and climate change risks by improving their resilience. By undertaking these two analyses as part of their consolidated planning, HUD believes that jurisdictions become better informed of two emerging community needs in the world today: (1) The importance of broadband access, which opens up opportunity to a wide range of services, markets, jobs, educational, cultural and recreational opportunities; and (2) the importance of being cognizant and prepared for environmental and geographical conditions that may threaten the health and safety of communities. As noted earlier in this preamble, HUD is not mandating that jurisdictions take actions in either of these areas, but HUD believes that these are two areas that must be taken into consideration in a jurisdiction’s planning for its expenditure of HUD funds. therefore, subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in accordance with the requirements of the order. Executive Order 13563 (Improving Regulations and Regulatory Review) directs executive agencies to analyze regulations that are ‘‘outmoded, ineffective, insufficient, or excessively burdensome, and to modify, streamline, expand, or repeal them in accordance with what has been learned. Executive Order 13563 also directs that, where relevant, feasible, and consistent with regulatory objectives, and to the extent permitted by law, agencies are to identify and consider regulatory approaches that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice for the public. This rule was determined to be a ‘‘significant regulatory action’’ as defined in section 3(f) of Executive Order (although not an economically significant regulatory action, as provided under section 3(f)(1) of the Executive Order). As noted in this preamble, the proposed regulatory amendments are designed to assist Consolidated Plan jurisdictions assess two emerging needs of communities in this changing world. Specifically, the proposed rule will direct States and local governments to consider broadband access and natural hazard resilience in their consolidated planning efforts by using readily available online data sources. Where access to broadband Internet service is either not currently available or only minimally available, jurisdictions will be required to consider ways to bring broadband Internet access to low- and moderate-income residents, including how HUD funds could be used to narrow the digital divide for these residents. Further, where low- and moderate-income communities are at risk of natural hazards, including those that may be exacerbated due to climate change, States and local governments must consider ways to incorporate hazard mitigation and resilience into their community planning and development goals, including the use of HUD funds. IV. Findings and Certifications The Consolidated Planning process benefits jurisdictions by establishing the framework for a community-wide dialogue to identify housing and community development needs for over a thousand communities across the Nation.19 Rather than a piecemeal Regulatory Review—Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 Under Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review), a determination must be made whether a regulatory action is significant and 18 https://toolkit.climate.gov/content/about- 17 http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/. VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:26 May 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 31197 climate-resilience-toolkit. PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Benefits and Costs of the Proposed Rule A. Benefits 19 The Consolidated Plan is used by 1,255 jurisdictions. This number includes 1,205 localities all 50 States. E:\FR\FM\18MYP1.SGM 18MYP1 31198 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 96 / Wednesday, May 18, 2016 / Proposed Rules approach to planning based on differing program requirements, the Consolidated Plan enables a holistic approach to the assessment of affordable housing and community development needs and market conditions. HUD established the Consolidated Plan, through a 1994 final rule, for the explicit purpose of linking disparate program planning requirements, thereby ensuring ‘‘that the needs and resources of . . . [jurisdictions] are included in a comprehensive planning effort to revitalize distressed neighborhoods and help low-income residents locally.’’ 20 The Consolidated Plan replaced a dozen separate planning mechanisms with a unified approach enabling communities to make data-driven, place-based investment decisions.21 New housing and community development needs have arisen in the 21 years since the Consolidated Plan was created. As noted in this preamble, two of the most pressing emerging needs facing communities in the twenty-first century are the digital divide and climate change: • In a recent analysis, the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) noted that the benefits of broadband Internet technology have not been evenly distributed.22 Research shows that there remain substantial disparities in both Internet use and the quality of access. This ‘‘digital divide’’ is concentrated among older, less educated, and less affluent populations, as well as in rural parts of the country that tend to have fewer choices and slower connections.23 • As President Obama has noted, climate change is happening now; it is not a distant threat. Its effects are already being felt in communities across the Nation. In some regions, droughts, wildfires, and floods are becoming more frequent and/or intense.24 Average temperatures across the United States have increased between 1.3 and 1.9 degrees Fahrenheit since recordkeeping began in 1895.25 Heat waves, hurricanes, and severe storms have all 20 60 FR 1878 (January 5, 1994). footnote 15. 22 The Digital Divide and Economic Benefits of Broadband Access, Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) Issue Brief (March 2016) available online at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/ page/files/20160308_broadband_cea_issue_ brief.pdf. 23 Thom File and Camille Ryan, Computer and Internet Use in the United States: 2013 (U.S. Census Bureau, November 2014) available online at: http:// www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/ publications/2014/acs/acs-28.pdf. 24 https://www.whitehouse.gov/energy/climatechange. 25 http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/highlights/ overview/climate-trends. ehiers on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 21 See VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:26 May 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 become more intense, and sea level rise is causing some communities to flood at high tides and threatening homes and critical infrastructure. Climate impacts have affected every region across the nation and inflicted large costs on the economy.26 Despite the benefits described above of a comprehensive approach to planning and the allocation of scarce Federal dollars, jurisdictions are not currently required to consider either the digital divide or climate change resilience in development of their Consolidated Plans. Jurisdictions may therefore place a low priority on assessing, and using Federal dollars to address, these critical issues than on other needs included in the Consolidated Plan. As a worst case scenario, it could mean that communities elect to defer considering these needs. The direct benefits provided by the proposed rule are, therefore, to help ensure that Consolidated Plan jurisdictions consider broadband access and natural hazard resilience as part of their comprehensive assessment and planning efforts, including the most effective use of HUD grant funds. The CEA broadband analysis discussed above noted that closing the digital divide can increase productivity and open ladders of opportunity. Likewise, community investment in natural hazard resilience may help to insure security and quality of life against the rising environmental tolls associated with climate change.27 B. Costs HUD does not anticipate that the costs of the revised consultation and reporting requirements will be substantial since the regulatory changes proposed by this proposed rule merely build upon similar existing requirements for other elements covered by the consolidated planning process rather than mandating completely new procedures. The economic costs of completing the Consolidated Plan are not significant. A complete Consolidated Plan that contains both a Strategic Plan and Annual Action Plan is submitted once every 3 to 5 years. An Annual Action Plan is submitted once a year. HUD data indicate that the cost of preparing the Strategic Plan for a locality is $5,236, and for a State is $14,382. The cost of preparing the Annual Action Plan is $1,904 for a locality and $6,392 for each State. While these are not trivial amounts, they are 26 http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/. 27 See http://www.nist.gov/el/helping-to-build-anation-of-resilient-communities.cfm. PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 not substantial when considered in proportion to HUD grant funding (for example, the average CDBG grant to entitlement communities in FY 2012 was approximately $1.7 million).28 HUD does not anticipate the proposed regulatory changes will add much, if anything, to these costs. As noted above, the required assessments will be based on data that are already readily available on the Internet. Therefore, jurisdictions will not have to incur the expense and administrative burdens associated with collecting data. Moreover, the proposed rule does not mandate that actions be taken to address broadband needs or climate change needs. Consolidated plan jurisdictions are in the best position to decide how to expend their HUD funds. However, HUD believes that the additional analyses required by this proposed rule may highlight areas where expenditure of funds would assist in opening up economic opportunities through increased broadband access or mitigate the impact of possible natural hazard risks and climate change impacts. HUD leaves it to jurisdictions to consider any appropriate methods to promote broadband access or protect against the adverse impacts of climate change, taking into account the other needs of their communities, and available funding, as identified through the consolidated planning process. Accordingly, HUD believes that the benefits of enhancing the ability of State and local government to comprehensively plan for housing and community development needs outweigh the minimal costs that may be associated with the revised Consolidated Plan requirements. The docket file is available for public inspection in the Regulations Division, Office of General Counsel, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th Street SW., Room 10276, Washington, DC 20410–0500. Due to security measures at the HUD Headquarters building, please schedule an appointment to review the docket file by calling the Regulation Division at 202–402–3055 (this is not a toll-free number). Individuals with speech or hearing impairments may access this number via TTY by calling the Federal Relay Service at 800–877–8339. Paperwork Reduction Act The information collection requirements contained in this rule have been submitted to the Office of 28 Eugene Boyd, Community Development Block Grants: Recent Funding History (Congressional Research Service, February 6, 2014), available online at: https://www.hsdl.org/?view&did=750383. E:\FR\FM\18MYP1.SGM 18MYP1 31199 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 96 / Wednesday, May 18, 2016 / Proposed Rules Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501–3520). In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act, an agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information, unless the collection displays a currently valid OMB control number. The burden of the information collections in this rule is estimated as follows: REPORTING AND RECORDKEEPING BURDEN Response frequency (average) * Burden hours per response Total burden hours Information collection Number of respondents Citizen participation plan for localities (§ 91.105) and States (§ 91.115). Housing market analysis for local governments (§ 91.210) and States (§ 91.310). 1,205 localities and 50 States 1 2 2,510 1,205 localities and 50 States 1 2 2,510 Totals ................................................................................ 1,255 ...................................... 1 4 5,020 ehiers on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS * A complete Consolidated Plan is submitted once every 3–5 years. This response number reflects one response per Consolidated Plan submission. In accordance with 5 CFR 1320.8(d)(1), HUD is soliciting from members of the public and affected agencies comments on the following concerning this collection of information: (1) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) The accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information; (3) Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond; including through the use of appropriate automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology; e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses. Interested persons are invited to submit comments regarding the information collection requirements in this rule. Under the provisions of 5 CFR part 1320, OMB is required to make a decision concerning this collection of information between 30 and 60 days after the publication date. Therefore, a comment on the information collection requirements is best assured of having its full effect if OMB receives the comment within 30 days of the publication. This time frame does not affect the deadline for comments to the agency on the proposed rule, however. Comments must refer to the proposal by name and docket number (5891–P–01) and must be sent to: HUD Desk Officer, Office of Management and Budget, New Executive Office Building, Washington, DC 20503, Fax number: 202–395–6947, and VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:26 May 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 Ms. Colette Pollard, Reports Liaison Officer, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th Street SW., Room 2204, Washington, DC 20410 Interested persons may submit comments regarding the information collection requirements electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. HUD strongly encourages commenters to submit comments electronically. Electronic submission of comments allows the commenter maximum time to prepare and submit a comment, ensures timely receipt by HUD, and enables HUD to make them immediately available to the public. Comments submitted electronically through the http://www.regulations.gov Web site can be viewed by other commenters and interested members of the public. Commenters should follow the instructions provided on that site to submit comments electronically. Impact on Small Entities The Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) generally requires an agency to conduct a regulatory flexibility analysis of any rule subject to notice and comment rulemaking requirements, unless the agency certifies that the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. As noted above in this preamble, the proposed regulatory amendment will impose minimal, if any, economic burdens on HUD grantees, irrespective of their size. The proposed rule will amend the Consolidated Plan regulations to require that States and local governments consider (1) broadband Internet service access for low- and moderate-income households to; and (2) the risk of potential natural hazards, including those that may be PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 exacerbated due to climate change, to low- and moderate-income residents in their jurisdictions. The regulatory changes build upon their existing consolidated planning process rather than mandating completely new procedures. As discussed above, the economic costs of preparing the Consolidated Plan are not significant, and it is unlikely that the proposed changes will increase those costs since the required assessments will be mostly based on data that has already been compiled and readily available on the Internet. Jurisdictions will, therefore, not have to incur the expense and administrative burdens associated with collecting and analyzing data. Moreover, the proposed rule does not mandate that any actions be taken in response to the required assessments. Where access to broadband Internet service is not currently available or is minimally available, States and local governments must consider ways to bring broadband Internet access to lowand moderate-income residents, including how HUD funds could be used to narrow the digital divide for these residents. Further, where low- and moderate-income communities are at risk of natural hazards, including those that may be exacerbated due to climate change, States and local governments must consider ways to incorporate hazard mitigation and resilience into their community planning and development goals, including the use of HUD funds. However, jurisdictions retain the discretion to consider the most appropriate methods to address their assessments, taking into account other needs identified as part of the consolidated planning process as well as financial and other resource constraints. This proposed rule therefore, which only requires consideration of the broadband and E:\FR\FM\18MYP1.SGM 18MYP1 31200 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 96 / Wednesday, May 18, 2016 / Proposed Rules natural hazards resilience needs of lowincome communities, has a minimal cost impact on all grantees subject to the Consolidated Planning process, whether large or small, and will not have a significant economic impact on substantial number of small entities. Notwithstanding HUD’s determination that this proposed rule will not have a significant economic effect on a substantial number of small entities, HUD specifically invites comments regarding any less burdensome alternatives to this rule that will meet HUD’s objectives, as described in this preamble. Environmental Review This proposed rule does not direct, provide for assistance or loan and mortgage insurance for, or otherwise govern, or regulate, real property acquisition, disposition, leasing, rehabilitation, alteration, demolition, or new construction, or establish, revise or provide for standards for construction or construction materials, manufactured housing, or occupancy. Accordingly, under 24 CFR 50.19(c)(1), this proposed rule is categorically excluded from environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321). ehiers on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Executive Order 13132, Federalism Executive Order 13132 (entitled ‘‘Federalism’’) prohibits an agency from publishing any rule that has federalism implications if the rule imposes either substantial direct compliance costs on state and local governments and is not required by statute, or the rule preempts state law, unless the agency meets the consultation and funding requirements of section 6 of the Executive Order. This proposed rule would not have federalism implications and would not impose substantial direct compliance costs on state and local governments or preempt state law within the meaning of the Executive Order. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (2 U.S.C. 1531– 1538) (UMRA) establishes requirements for federal agencies to assess the effects of their regulatory actions on state, local, and tribal governments, and on the private sector. This proposed rule would not impose any federal mandates on any state, local, or tribal governments, or on the private sector, within the meaning of the UMRA. List of Subjects in 24 CFR Part 91 Aged, Grant programs—housing and community development, Homeless, Individuals with disabilities, Low- and VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:26 May 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 moderate-income housing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements. For the reasons discussed in the preamble, HUD proposes to amend part 91 as follows: PART 91—CONSOLIDATED SUBMISSIONS FOR COMMUNITY PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS 1. The authority citation for part 91 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 42 U.S.C. 3535(d), 3601–3619, 5301–5315, 11331–11388, 12701–12711, 12741–12756, and 12901–12912. 2. In § 91.100, add a sentence to the end of paragraph (a)(1) to read as follows: ■ § 91.100 Consultation; local governments. (a) * * * (1) * * * When preparing the consolidated plan, the jurisdiction shall also consult with public and private organizations, including broadband Internet service providers, organizations engaged in narrowing the digital divide, agencies whose primary responsibilities include the management of floodprone areas, public land or water resources, and emergency management agencies. * * * * * ■ 3. In § 91.105, add a sentence at the end of paragraph (a)(2)(ii) to read as follows: § 91.105 Citizen participation plan; local governments. (a) * * * (2) * * * (ii) * * * The jurisdiction shall encourage the participation of public and private organizations, including broadband Internet service providers, organizations engaged in narrowing the digital divide, agencies whose primary responsibilities include the management of floodprone areas, public land or water resources, and emergency management agencies in the process of developing the consolidated plan. * * * * * ■ 4. In § 91.110, add a sentence at the end of paragraph (a) to read as follows: § 91.110 Consultation; States. (a) * * * When preparing the consolidated plan, the State shall also consult with public and private organizations, including broadband Internet service providers, organizations engaged in narrowing the digital divide, agencies whose primary responsibilities include the management of floodprone areas, public land or water resources, and emergency management agencies. * * * * * PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 5. In § 91.115, add a sentence at the end of paragraph (a)(2)(ii) to read as follows: ■ § 91.115 Citizen participation plan; States. (a) * * * (2) * * * (ii) * * * The State shall also encourage the participation of public and private organizations, including broadband Internet service providers, organizations engaged in narrowing the digital divide, agencies whose primary responsibilities include the management of floodprone areas, public land or water resources, and emergency management agencies in the process of developing the consolidated plan. * * * * * ■ 6. In § 91.200, redesignate paragraph (b)(3)(iv) as paragraph (b)(3)(vi), and add new paragraph (b)(3)(iv) and paragraph (b)(3)(v) to read as follows: § 91.200 General. * * * * * (b) * * * (3) * * * (iv) Public and private organizations, including broadband Internet service providers and organizations engaged in narrowing the digital divide; (v) Agencies whose primary responsibilities include the management of floodprone areas, public land or water resources, and emergency management agencies; and * * * * * ■ 7. Revise § 91.210(a) to read as follows: § 91.210 Housing market analysis. (a) General characteristics. (1) Based on information available to the jurisdiction, the plan must describe the significant characteristics of the jurisdiction’s housing market, including the supply, demand, and condition and cost of housing and the housing stock available to serve persons with disabilities, and to serve other lowincome persons with special needs, including persons with HIV/AIDS and their families. (2) Data on the housing market should include, to the extent information is available, an estimate of the number of vacant or abandoned buildings and whether units in these buildings are suitable for rehabilitation. (3) The jurisdiction must also identify and describe any areas within the jurisdiction with concentrations of racial/ethnic minorities and/or lowincome families, stating how it defines the terms ‘‘area of low-income concentration’’ and ‘‘area of minority concentration’’ for this purpose. The locations and degree of these E:\FR\FM\18MYP1.SGM 18MYP1 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 96 / Wednesday, May 18, 2016 / Proposed Rules concentrations must be identified, either in a narrative or on one or more maps. (4) The jurisdiction must also describe the broadband needs of housing occupied by low- and moderate-income households based on an analysis of data for its low- and moderate-income neighborhoods in the National Broadband Map. Jurisdictions may also use broadband availability data in the FCC Form 477 or other data identified by the jurisdiction, for which the source is cited in the jurisdiction’s Consolidated Plan. These needs include the need for broadband wiring and for connection to the broadband service in the household units, the need for increased competition by having more than one broadband Internet service provider serve the jurisdiction. (5) The jurisdiction must also describe the vulnerability of housing occupied by low- and moderate-income households to increased natural hazard risks associated with climate change based on an analysis of data, findings, and methods in: (i) The National Climate Assessment, the Climate Resilience Toolkit, the Impact of Climate Change and Population Growth on the National Flood Insurance Program, or the NIST Community Resilience Planning Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems; (ii) Other climate risk-related data published by the Federal government or other State or local government climate risk-related data, including hazard mitigation plans approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that incorporate climate change; or (iii) Other climate risk data identified by the jurisdiction, for which the source is cited in the jurisdiction’s Consolidated Plan. * * * * * ■ 8. In § 91.300, remove the word ‘‘and’’ following the semicolon at the end of paragraph (b)(3)(iii), redesignate paragraph (b)(3)(iv) as paragraph (b)(3)(vi), and add new paragraph (b)(3)(iv) and paragraph (b)(3)(v) to read as follows: § 91.300 General. ehiers on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS * * * * * (b) * * * (3) * * * (iv) Public and private organizations, including broadband Internet service providers and organizations engaged in narrowing the digital divide; (v) Agencies whose primary responsibilities include the management of floodprone areas, public land or water resources, and emergency management agencies; and * * * * * VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:26 May 17, 2016 Jkt 238001 31201 9. Revise § 91.310(a) to read as follows: DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT § 91.310 24 CFR Parts 1000, 1003, 1005, 1006, and 1007 ■ Housing market analysis. (a) General characteristics. (1) Based on data available to the State, the plan must describe the significant characteristics of the State’s housing markets (including such aspects as the supply, demand, and condition and cost of housing). (2) The State must describe the broadband needs of housing in the State based on an analysis of data in the National Broadband Map. States may also use broadband availability data in the FCC Form 477 or other data identified by the jurisdiction, for which the source is cited in the jurisdiction’s Consolidated Plan. These needs include the need for broadband wiring and for connection to the broadband service in the household units, the need for increased competition by having more than one broadband Internet service provider serve the jurisdiction. (3) The State must also describe the vulnerability of housing occupied by low- and moderate-income households to increased natural hazard risks due to climate change based on an analysis of data, findings, and methods in: (i) The National Climate Assessment, the Climate Resilience Toolkit, the Impact of Climate Change and Population Growth on the National Flood Insurance Program, or the NIST Community Resilience Planning Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems; (ii) Other climate risk-related data published by the Federal government or other State or local government climate risk-related data, including hazard mitigation plans approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that incorporate climate change; or (iii) Other climate risk data identified by the jurisdiction, for which the source is cited in the jurisdiction’s Consolidated Plan. * * * * * Dated: April 15, 2016. Harriet Tregoning, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development. [FR Doc. 2016–11350 Filed 5–17–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4210–67–P PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 [Docket No. FR 5861–N–02] RIN 2577–AC96 Equal Access to Housing in HUD’s Native American and Native Hawaiian Programs—Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity; Correction Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing, HUD. ACTION: Proposed rule; correction. AGENCY: On May 9, 2016, HUD published a proposed rule that would revise regulations for HUD’s Native American and Native Hawaiian programs to incorporate existing rules that require HUD programs to be open to all eligible individuals and families regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. After publication, HUD discovered an inadvertent mistake in the preamble to the document. The preamble contained incomplete information in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. This document revises the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of the preamble. DATES: This document corrects the proposed rule published on May 9, 2016 (81 FR 28037). The comment due date for that proposed rule remains unchanged as July 8, 2016. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: With respect to this supplementary document, contact Camille E. Acevedo, Associate General Counsel for Legislation and Regulations, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th Street SW., Room 10238, Washington, DC 20410; telephone number 202–708–1793 (this is not a tollfree number). Persons with hearing or speech impairments may access this number through TTY by calling the tollfree Federal Relay Service at 800–877– 8339. SUMMARY: Correction In proposed rule FR Doc. 2016–10753, beginning on page 28037 in the issue of May 9, 2016, make the following correction in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. On page 28037 in the 3rd column, revise the information in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section to read as follows: ‘‘Randy Akers, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Native E:\FR\FM\18MYP1.SGM 18MYP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 96 (Wednesday, May 18, 2016)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 31192-31201]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-11350]


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DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT

24 CFR Part 91

[Docket No. FR 5891-P-01]
RIN 2506-AC41


Modernizing HUD's Consolidated Planning Process To Narrow the 
Digital Divide and Increase Resilience to Natural Hazards

AGENCY: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and 
Development, Department of Housing and Urban Development.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: HUD's Consolidated Plan is a planning mechanism designed to 
help States and local governments to assess their affordable housing 
and community development needs and to make data-driven, place-based 
investment decisions. The consolidated planning process serves as the 
framework for a community-wide dialogue to identify housing and 
community development priorities that align and focus funding from 
HUD's formula block grant programs. This proposed rule would amend 
HUD's Consolidated Plan regulations to require that jurisdictions 
consider two additional concepts in their planning efforts.
    The first concept is how to address the need for broadband access 
for low- and moderate-income residents in the communities they serve. 
Broadband is the common term used to refer to a high-speed, always on 
connection to the Internet. Such connection is also referred to as 
high-speed broadband or high-speed Internet. Specifically, the proposed 
rule would require that States and localities that submit a 
consolidated plan describe the broadband access in housing occupied by 
low- and moderate-income households. If low-income residents in the 
communities do not have such access, States and jurisdictions must 
consider providing broadband access to these residents into their 
decisions on how to invest HUD funds. The second concept to be added to 
the Consolidated Plan process would require jurisdictions to consider 
incorporating resilience to natural hazard risks, taking care to 
anticipate how risks will increase due to climate change, into 
development of the Plan in order to begin addressing impacts of climate 
change on low- and moderate-income residents.

DATES: Comments Due Date: July 18, 2016.

ADDRESSES: Interested persons are invited to submit comments responsive 
to this proposed rule to the Office of General Counsel, Regulations 
Division, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th Street 
SW., Room 10276, Washington, DC 20410-0001. All submissions should 
refer to the above docket number and title. Submission of public 
comments may be carried out by hard copy or electronic submission.
    1. Submission of Hard Copy Comments. Comments may be submitted by 
mail or hand delivery. Each commenter submitting hard copy comments, by 
mail or hand delivery, should submit comments to the address above, 
addressed to the attention of the

[[Page 31193]]

Regulations Division. Due to security measures at all federal agencies, 
submission of comments by mail often results in delayed delivery. To 
ensure timely receipt of comments, HUD recommends that any comments 
submitted by mail be submitted at least 2 weeks in advance of the 
public comment deadline. All hard copy comments received by mail or 
hand delivery are a part of the public record and will be posted to 
http://www.regulations.gov without change.
    2. Electronic Submission of Comments. Interested persons may submit 
comments electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at 
http://www.regulations.gov. HUD strongly encourages commenters to 
submit comments electronically. Electronic submission of comments 
allows the commenter maximum time to prepare and submit a comment, 
ensures timely receipt by HUD, and enables HUD to make comments 
immediately available to the public. Comments submitted electronically 
through the http://www.regulations.gov Web site can be viewed by other 
commenters and interested members of the public. Commenters should 
follow instructions provided on that site to submit comments 
electronically.
    No Facsimile Comments. Facsimile (fax) comments are not acceptable.
    Public Inspection of Comments. All comments submitted to HUD 
regarding this rule will be available, without charge, for public 
inspection and copying between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Eastern Time, 
weekdays at the above address. Due to security measures at the HUD 
Headquarters building, an advance appointment to review the public 
comments must be scheduled by calling the Regulations Division at 202-
708-3055 (this is not a toll-free number). Individuals with speech or 
hearing impairments may access this number through TTY by calling the 
Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339 (this is a toll-free number). 
Copies of all comments submitted are available for inspection and 
downloading at http://www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lora Routt, Senior Advisor, Office of 
Community Planning and Development, Department of Housing and Urban 
Development, Office of Community Planning and Development, 451 7th 
Street SW., Suite 7204, Washington, DC 20410 at 202-402-4492, (this is 
not a toll-free number). Individuals with speech or hearing impairments 
may access this number via TTY by calling the Federal Relay Service, 
toll-free, at 800-877-8339.
    Persons with hearing or speech impairments may access this number 
through TTY by calling the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339 (this 
is a toll-free number).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Executive Summary

A. Purpose of This Proposed Rule

    The purpose of this proposed rule is to require States and local 
governments to evaluate the availability of broadband access and the 
vulnerability of housing occupied by low- and moderate income 
households to natural hazard risks, many of which may be increasing due 
to climate change, in their consolidated planning efforts. These 
evaluations will be conducted using readily available data sources 
developed by Federal government agencies and other available data and 
analyses, including State, Tribal, and local hazard mitigation plans 
that have been approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency 
(FEMA). Where access to broadband Internet service is not currently 
available or is minimally available (such as in certain rural areas), 
States and local governments must consider ways to bring broadband 
Internet access to low- and moderate-income residents, including how 
HUD funds could be used to narrow the digital divide for these 
residents. Further, where low- and moderate-income communities are at 
risk of natural hazards, including those that are expected to increase 
due to climate change, States and local governments must consider ways 
to incorporate appropriate hazard mitigation and resilience into their 
community planning and development goals, codes, and standards, 
including the use of HUD funds. These two planning considerations 
reflect emerging needs of communities in this changing world. Broadband 
access provides access to a wide range of resources, services, and 
products and such access not only can assist individuals in improving 
their economic outlook, but also assists communities in this same way. 
Analysis of natural hazards, including the anticipated effects of 
climate change on those hazards, is important to help ensure that 
jurisdictions are aware of existing and developing vulnerabilities in 
the geographic areas that they serve that can threaten the health and 
safety of the populations they serve.

B. Summary of Major Provisions of This Proposed Rule

    The current regulations require that local governments and States 
consult public and private agencies that provide assisted housing, 
health services, and social and fair housing services during 
preparation of the consolidated plan. Under the current regulations, 
local governments and States are also required in their citizen 
participation plan to encourage the participation of local and regional 
institutions and businesses in the process of developing and 
implementing their consolidated plans. The proposed rule would require 
States and local governments, in preparing their consolidated plans, to 
add to the list of public and private agencies and entities that they 
now must consult with for preparation of their plans, to consult with 
public and private organizations, including broadband Internet service 
providers, organizations engaged in narrowing the digital divide (e.g., 
schools, digital literacy organizations), and agencies whose primary 
responsibilities include the management of floodprone areas, public 
land or water resources, and emergency management agencies. 
Jurisdictions must also encourage the participation of these entities 
in implementing relevant components of the plan.
    The proposed rule would also require jurisdictions to describe 
broadband access in housing occupied by low- and moderate-income 
households based on an analysis of data for its low- and moderate-
income neighborhoods in the National Broadband Map \1\ created by the 
National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of 
the Department of Commerce. Grantees may also use broadband 
availability data in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Form 
477 \2\ or other data identified by the jurisdiction, for which the 
source is cited in the jurisdiction's Consolidated Plan. These needs 
include the need for broadband wiring and for connection to the 
broadband service in the household units, the need for increased 
competition by having more than one broadband Internet service provider 
serve the jurisdiction.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ See http://www.broadbandmap.gov.
    \2\ See https://www.fcc.gov/general/broadband-deployment-data-fcc-form-477.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The proposed rule would also require that jurisdictions provide, as 
part of their required housing market analysis, an assessment of 
natural hazard risks, including risks expected to increase due to 
climate change, to low- and moderate-income residents based on an 
analysis of data, findings, and methods in (1) the most recent National 
Climate

[[Page 31194]]

Assessment,\3\ the Climate Resilience Toolkit,\4\ the Impact of Climate 
Change and Population Growth on the National Flood Insurance Program 
Through 2100,\5\ or the Community Resilience Planning Guide for 
Buildings and Infrastructure Systems prepared by the National Institute 
of Standards and Technology (NIST); \6\ (2) other climate risk-related 
data published by the Federal government or other State or local 
government climate risk related data, including FEMA-approved hazard 
mitigation plans which incorporate climate change; or (3) other climate 
risk data identified by the jurisdiction, for which the source is cited 
in the jurisdiction's Consolidated Plan. Grantees may request Technical 
Assistance through their HUD Field Office or directly at 
www.HUDExchange.info/get-assistance.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \3\ See http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/highlights#submenu-highlights-overview.
    \4\ See https://toolkit.climate.gov.
    \5\ See http://www.acclimatise.uk.com/login/uploaded/resources/FEMA_NFIP_report.pdf.
    \6\ See http://nvlpubs.nist.gov/nistpubs/SpecialPublications/NIST.SP.1197.pdf.
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C. Costs and Benefits of This Proposed Rule

    HUD's Consolidated Plan process, established by regulation in 1994, 
provides a comprehensive planning process for HUD programs administered 
by HUD's Office of Community Planning and Development, specifically the 
Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, the HOME Investment 
Partnerships (HOME) program, Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) program 
and the Housing with Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA). 
Comprehensive community planning provides officials with an informative 
profile of their communities in terms of population, housing, economic 
base, community facilities, and transportation systems, and such 
information aids officials in their investment decisions. HUD's 
Consolidated Planning process assists State and local officials that 
are recipients of HUD funds under the above-listed programs in 
determining the housing and community development needs of their 
respective communities. Requiring consolidated plan jurisdictions to 
consider the broadband and natural hazard resilience needs of their 
communities helps to ensure a more complete profile of the needs of 
their communities. As discussed in this preamble, the importance of 
providing broadband access to all cannot be overstated. Broadband 
access is not only important to increasing opportunity for an 
individual's success, but to the success of a community. Consideration 
of the impact of natural hazard risks, many of which are anticipated to 
increase due to climate change, in one's community, and how communities 
can help mitigate any such adverse impacts, is equally important as it 
will help to guide the best use of land and orderly and sustainable 
growth. In brief, the benefits of this proposed rule are to promote a 
balanced planning process that more fully considers the housing, 
environmental, and economic needs of communities.
    HUD does not anticipate that the costs of the revised consultation 
and reporting requirements will be significant since the regulatory 
changes proposed by this proposed rule merely build upon similar 
existing requirements for other elements covered by the consolidated 
planning process rather than mandating completely new procedures. 
Further, the required assessments will be based on data readily 
available on the Internet. Therefore, jurisdictions will not have to 
incur the expense and administrative burdens associated with collecting 
data. Moreover, this proposed rule does not mandate that actions be 
taken to address broadband needs or climate change adaptation needs. 
Consolidated plan jurisdictions are in the best position to decide how 
to expend their HUD funds. However, HUD believes that the additional 
analyses required by this rule may highlight areas where expenditure of 
funds would assist in opening up economic opportunities through 
increased broadband access or mitigate the impact of possible natural 
hazards, including those that may be exacerbated due to climate change. 
HUD leaves it to jurisdictions to consider any appropriate methods to 
promote broadband access or protect against the adverse impacts of 
climate change, taking into account the other needs of their 
communities, and available funding, as identified through the 
consolidated planning process.

II. Background

A. Broadband

    On March 23, 2015, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum 
on ``Expanding Broadband Deployment and Adoption by Addressing 
Regulatory Barriers and Encouraging Investment and Training.'' \7\ In 
this memorandum, the President noted that access to high-speed 
broadband is no longer a luxury, but it is a necessity for American 
families, businesses, and consumers.\8\ The President further noted 
that the Federal government has an important role to play in developing 
coordinated policies to promote broadband deployment and adoption, 
including promoting best practices, breaking down regulatory barriers, 
and encouraging further investment.
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    \7\ See https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/03/23/presidential-memorandum-expanding-broadband-deployment-and-adoption-addr.
    \8\ The Web page for the National Broadband Map explains that 
``broadband refers to a high-speed, always-on connection to the 
Internet. The primary factors that people consider when deciding 
what type of broadband Internet service to subscribe to include 
service availability, connection speed, technology and price. 
Organizations define broadband in different ways. For information to 
be included on the National Broadband Map, the technology must 
provide a two-way data transmission (to and from the Internet) with 
advertised speeds of at least 768 kilobits per second (kbps) 
downstream and at least 200 kbps upstream to end users.'' Please see 
http://www.broadbandmap.gov/.
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    The memorandum established an interagency Broadband Opportunity 
Council, including representatives from the Executive Branch agencies, 
for the purposes of consulting with State, local, tribal, and 
territorial governments, as well as telecommunications companies, 
utilities, trade associations, philanthropic entities, policy experts, 
and other interested parties to identify and assess regulatory barriers 
and opportunities to broadband adoption. The council's report, 
published by the White House on September 21, 2015, included a number 
of specific actions that agencies (including HUD) agreed to take to 
promote greater broadband deployment and adoption. This change to the 
Consolidated Planning process is one of those actions.\9\
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    \9\ See, Broadband Opportunity Council, Report to President 
Obama at p. 14 (Aug. 20, 2015), available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/broadband_opportunity_council_report_final.pdf .
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    On July 15, 2015, HUD launched its Digital Opportunity 
Demonstration, known as ``ConnectHome,'' in which HUD provided a 
platform for collaboration among local governments, public housing 
agencies, Internet service providers, philanthropic foundations, 
nonprofit organizations and other relevant stakeholders to work 
together to produce local solutions for narrowing the digital divide in 
communities across the nation served by HUD.\10\ The demonstration, or 
pilot as it is also called, commenced with the participation of 28 
communities. Through contributions made by the Internet service 
providers and other organizations participating in the pilot, these 28 
communities will benefit from the ConnectHome collaboration by

[[Page 31195]]

receiving, for the residents living in HUD public and assisted housing 
in these communities, broadband infrastructure, technical assistance, 
literacy training, and electronic devices that provide for accessing 
high-speed Internet.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \10\ See https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/07/15/fact-sheet-connecthome-coming-together-ensure-digital-opportunity-all.
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    On March 9, 2016, President Obama launched the ConnectALL 
initiative to ensure that more Americans have the broadband they need 
to get a job, engage their community, and deliver opportunity to their 
children.\11\ ConnectALL will increase the affordability of broadband 
for low-income Americans; deliver digital literacy skills; increase 
access to affordable devices; develop a tool to support broadband 
planning; bring together private sector corporations helping to deliver 
affordable connectivity; and marshal philanthropic support for digital 
inclusion. The goal of ConnectALL is to create a national effort to 
connect 20 million more Americans to broadband by 2020.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \11\ https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/03/09/fact-sheet-president-obama-announces-connectall-initiative.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The importance of all Americans having access to the Internet 
cannot be overstated. As HUD stated in its announcement of the Digital 
Opportunity Demonstration, published in the Federal Register on April 
3, 2015, at 80 FR 18248, ``[k]nowledge is a pillar to achieving the 
American Dream--a catalyst for upward mobility as well as an investment 
that ensures each generation is as successful as the last.'' \12\ Many 
low-income Americans do not have broadband Internet at home, 
contributing to the estimated 66 million Americans who are without the 
most basic digital literacy skills. Without broadband access and 
connectivity and the skills to use Internet technology at home, 
children will miss out on the high-value educational, economic, and 
social impact that high-speed Internet provides. It is for these 
reasons that HUD is exploring ways, beyond ConnectHome, to narrow the 
digital divide for the low-income individuals and families served by 
HUD multifamily rental housing programs. This proposed rule presents 
one such additional effort.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \12\ 80 FR18248, at 18249.
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B. Natural Hazards Resilience

    On November 1, 2013, President Obama signed Executive Order 13653, 
on ``Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change.'' 
\13\ The Executive Order recognizes that the impacts of climate 
change--including an increase in prolonged periods of excessively high 
temperatures, more heavy downpours, an increase in wildfires, more 
severe droughts, permafrost thawing, ocean acidification, and sea-level 
rise--are often most significant for communities that already face 
economic or health-related challenges. Research has developed the 
concept of social vulnerability, which describes characteristics (age, 
gender, socioeconomic status, special needs, race, and ethnicity) of 
populations that influence their capacity to prepare for, respond to, 
and recover from hazards and disasters, including the sensitivity of a 
population to climate change impacts and how different people or groups 
are more or less vulnerable to those impacts. Social vulnerability and 
equity in the context of climate change are important because some 
populations may have less capacity to prepare for, respond to, and 
recover from climate-related hazards and effects.\14\ Executive Order 
13653 asserts that managing these risks requires deliberate 
preparation, close cooperation, and coordinated planning by the federal 
government, State, Tribal, and local governments, and stakeholders. 
Further, the Executive Order calls upon Federal agencies to identify 
opportunities to support and encourage smarter, more climate-resilient 
investments by States, local communities, and tribes, through grants 
and other programs, in the context of infrastructure development.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \13\ Executive Order 13653 was subsequently published in the 
Federal Register on November 6, 2013, at 78 FR 66819.
    \14\ A summary of research on social vulnerability is provided 
in Kathy Lynn, Katharine MacKendrick, and Ellen M. Donoghue, Social 
Vulnerability and Climate Change: Synthesis of Literature (United 
States Department of Agriculture, August 2011), available online at: 
http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/pubs/pnw_gtr838.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Section 7 of Executive Order 13653 established the President's 
State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Change 
Resilience and Preparedness (Task Force). Co-chaired by the Chair of 
the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the Director of 
the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, the Task Force 
consisted of 26 governors, mayors, county officials, and Tribal leaders 
from across the United States. Members brought first-hand experiences 
in building climate preparedness and resilience in their communities 
and conducted broad outreach to thousands of government agencies, trade 
associations, planning agencies, academic institutions, and other 
stakeholders, to inform their recommendations to the Administration.
    The President charged the Task Force with providing recommendations 
on how the Federal government can respond to the needs of communities 
nationwide that are dealing with the impacts of climate change by 
removing barriers to resilient investments, modernizing Federal grant 
and loan programs to better support local efforts, and developing the 
information and tools they need to prepare, among other measures. In 
November 2014, Task Force members presented their recommendations for 
the President at a White House meeting with Vice President Biden and 
other senior Administration officials.\15\ Among other actions, the 
Task Force called on HUD to consider strategies within existing grant 
programs to facilitate and encourage integrated hazard mitigation 
approaches that address climate-change related risks, land use, 
development codes and standards, and capital improvement planning. This 
proposed rule represents one step that HUD is taking to implement these 
recommendations.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \15\ https://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/initiatives/resilience/taskforce.
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III. This Proposed Rule

    HUD's consolidated planning process serves as the framework for a 
community-wide dialogue to identify housing and community development 
priorities that align and focus funding from the HUD formula block 
grant programs: Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, HOME 
Investment Partnerships (HOME) program, Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) 
program, and Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) 
program. HUD's regulations for the consolidated planning are codified 
at 24 CFR part 91(entitled ``Consolidated Submissions for Community 
Planning and Development Programs'').
    The Consolidated Plan, which may have a planning duration of 
between 3 and 5 years, is designed to help States and local governments 
assess their affordable housing and community development needs, in the 
context of market conditions at the time of their planning, and to make 
data-driven, place-based decisions on how to expend HUD funds in their 
jurisdictions. In developing their consolidated plans, States and local 
governments are required to engage their communities, both in the 
process of developing and reviewing the proposed plan, and as partners 
and stakeholders in the implementation of the plan. By consulting and 
collaborating with other public and private entities, States and local 
governments can better align and

[[Page 31196]]

coordinate community development programs with a range of other plans, 
programs, and resources to achieve greater impact. A jurisdiction's 
consolidated plan is carried out through annual action plans, which 
provide a concise summary of the actions, activities, and the specific 
Federal and non-federal resources that will be used each year to 
address the priority needs and specific goals identified by the 
Consolidated Plan. States and local governments report on 
accomplishments and progress toward consolidated plan goals in the 
Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report (CAPER).
    The regulatory amendments proposed by this rule would require 
States and local governments to consider broadband access and natural 
hazard resilience as part of their consolidated planning efforts. As 
provided in this proposed rule, States and local governments will need 
to consider the broadband needs of their low- and moderate-income 
residents, and the extent that available broadband Internet service 
providers and technology support these residents' broadband access 
needs. Where the required analysis demonstrates that such support is 
not currently available or is minimally available, States and local 
governments should consider ways to bring broadband Internet access to 
these residents, such as the extent to which broadband Internet service 
providers could be solicited to contribute to the broadband access 
needs of low-income residents, or how HUD funds could be used to narrow 
the digital divide for low- and moderate-income residents.
    Further, where the required analysis demonstrates that low- and 
moderate-income communities are at risk of natural hazards, including 
those that may be exacerbated due to climate change, States and local 
governments should consider ways to incorporate hazard mitigation and 
resilience into their community planning and development goals, 
development codes, and standards, including how HUD funds could be used 
to mitigate natural hazard risks, including increasing risks due to 
climate change, with other Federal, State, local, philanthropic, and 
private sector funding. In this regard, President Obama's 
Administration is committed to giving communities across the United 
States the information and tools they need to plan for current and 
future climate change impacts, such as flooding and sea-level rise. In 
March 2014, the Administration launched the Climate Data Initiative, an 
effort to make vast Federal data resources on climate change risks and 
impacts openly available to the public.\16\ Following a major disaster 
designation, jurisdictions should consider reviewing and possibly 
revising the required resilience analysis. Such a review would assist 
jurisdictions in determining whether the disaster has introduced new or 
unanticipated hazard risks and consequences or unmet needs. Such a 
review would assist jurisdictions in deciding how best to use HUD funds 
to address new resilience-related and disaster recovery-related needs. 
HUD specifically invites public comments on the need for this type of 
post-disaster review and the possibility of requiring such a 
reevaluation at the final rule stage.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \16\ See http://www.data.gov/climate/.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This proposed rule is one part of a broader set of Administration 
and HUD initiatives to narrow the digital divide and enhance climate 
resilience in low-income communities. Given the focus of the 
consolidated plan on housing needs, the assessments required by the 
proposed rule are limited to broadband access in housing and the 
vulnerability of housing to natural hazard risks. HUD, however, is 
cognizant of the critical non-housing needs of low-income communities. 
The adoption of broadband, which includes digital literacy by low-
income residents is an equally critical component of closing the 
digital divide. Likewise, the evaluation of vulnerability to natural 
hazard risks on a broader, community-wide, level is an equally 
significant component of ensuring the resilience of low-income 
households. Under 24 CFR 91.215 (for local governments) and 24 CFR 
92.315 (for States), jurisdictions must provide a description of 
priority non-housing community development needs eligible for 
assistance under HUD's community development programs. Given the 
importance of broadband adoption to communities and the goals of this 
rulemaking, HUD strongly encourages jurisdictions to consider 
implementing such actions in their non-housing community development 
efforts. Similarly, HUD strongly encourages jurisdictions to consider 
the use of block grant funds for actions that enhance the resilience of 
communities to natural hazard risks as a whole. To this end, 
jurisdictions should consider basing such actions on the FEMA-approved 
State, Tribal, and local hazard mitigation plans that may be used to 
conduct the housing-specific assessments required by the proposed rule.
    In addition, HUD continues to encourage regional planning 
considerations, and maintains the requirement for local governments and 
States to, in their citizen participation plan, encourage the 
participation of local and regional institutions and businesses in the 
process of developing and implementing their consolidated plans.
    The proposed rule would make the following changes to the 
Consolidated Plan regulations:
    1. Consultation and citizen participation requirements (Sec. Sec.  
91.100.91.105. 91.110, 91.115). The current regulations require that 
local governments and States consult public and private agencies that 
provide assisted housing, health services, and social and fair housing 
services during preparation of the consolidated plan. Under the current 
regulations, local governments and States are also required, in their 
citizen participation plan, to encourage the participation of local and 
regional institutions and businesses in the process of developing and 
implementing their consolidated plans. The proposed rule would amend 
these requirements to specify that local governments and States must 
consult with public and private organizations, including broadband 
Internet service providers, and other organizations engaged in 
narrowing the digital divide. Further, the citizen participation plan 
must encourage their participation in implementing any components of 
the plan designed to narrow the digital divide for low-income 
residents. The proposed rule would also require local governments and 
States to consult with agencies whose primary responsibilities include 
the management of floodprone areas, public land or water resources, and 
emergency management agencies in the process of developing the 
consolidated plan.
    2. Contents of Consolidated Plan (Sec. Sec.  91.5, 91.200, 9.200, 
91.210, 91.300, 91.310). The proposed rule would make several changes 
to subparts C and D of HUD's regulations 24 CFR part 91, which 
establish the required contents of the consolidated plan. First, the 
proposed rule would require that, in describing their consultation 
efforts, local governments and States describe their consultations with 
public and private organizations, including broadband Internet service 
providers, other organizations engaged in narrowing the digital divide, 
agencies whose primary responsibilities include the management of 
floodprone areas, public land or water resources, and emergency 
management agencies.
    Second, the jurisdiction must also describe broadband needs in 
housing occupied by low- and moderate-income households based on an 
analysis of data for its low- and moderate-income

[[Page 31197]]

neighborhoods in the National Broadband Map. The National Broadband Map 
Web site may be accessed at http://www.broadbandmap.gov/. Grantees may 
also use broadband availability data in the FCC Form 477 or other data 
identified by the jurisdiction, for which the source is cited in the 
jurisdiction's Consolidated Plan. These needs include the need for 
broadband wiring and for connection to the broadband service in the 
household units, the need for increased competition by having more than 
one broadband Internet service provider serve the jurisdiction.
    Third, the proposed rule would also require the jurisdiction to 
provide an assessment of natural hazard risk to low- and moderate-
income residents based on an analysis of data, findings and methods in 
(1) the most recent National Climate Assessment, the Climate Resilience 
Toolkit, the Impact of Climate Change and Population Growth on the 
National Flood Insurance Program Through 2100, or the Community 
Resilience Planning Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems 
prepared by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); 
(2) other climate risk-related data published by the Federal government 
or other State or local government climate risk related data, including 
FEMA-approved hazard mitigation plans which incorporate climate change; 
or (3) other climate risk data identified by the jurisdiction, for 
which the source is cited in the jurisdiction's Consolidated Plan.
    The National Climate Assessment, located at http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/, summarizes the impacts of climate change on 
the United States, now and in the future. A team of more than 300 
experts guided by a 60-member Federal Advisory Committee produced the 
report, which was extensively reviewed by the public and experts, 
including federal agencies and a panel of the National Academy of 
Sciences.\17\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \17\ http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Climate Resilience Toolkit, located at http://toolkit.climate.gov provides science-based tools, information, and 
expertise to help people manage their climate-related risks and 
opportunities, and improve their resilience to extreme events. The site 
is designed to serve interested citizens, communities, businesses, 
resource managers, planners, and policy leaders at all levels of 
government. The Climate Resilience Toolkit was developed over a six-
month period in 2014 by a partnership of federal agencies and 
organizations led by National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration.\18\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \18\ https://toolkit.climate.gov/content/about-climate-resilience-toolkit.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    FEMA sponsored the report on Impact of Climate Change and 
Population Growth on the National Flood Insurance Program (available at 
http://www.acclimatise.uk.com/login/uploaded/resources/FEMA_NFIP_report.pdf) to fulfill a recommendation made by the 
Government Accountability Office to analyze the potential long-term 
implications of climate change and population growth on the National 
Flood Insurance Program. The study addresses riverine and coastal flood 
response to climate change, with projections at 20-year intervals 
through 2100, and found that the national average increase in 
floodprone areas by the year 2100 may approximate 40-45% for riverine 
areas and coastal areas.
    The National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) 
Community Resilience Planning Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure 
Systems, located at http://www.nist.gov/el/resilience, provides a six-
step planning process that towns, cities, and counties can apply to 
better withstand hazard events and recovery more quickly. It provides a 
practical approach to help communities set priorities, allocate 
resources, and adopt codes and standards to reduce natural hazard and 
climate change risks by improving their resilience.
    By undertaking these two analyses as part of their consolidated 
planning, HUD believes that jurisdictions become better informed of two 
emerging community needs in the world today: (1) The importance of 
broadband access, which opens up opportunity to a wide range of 
services, markets, jobs, educational, cultural and recreational 
opportunities; and (2) the importance of being cognizant and prepared 
for environmental and geographical conditions that may threaten the 
health and safety of communities. As noted earlier in this preamble, 
HUD is not mandating that jurisdictions take actions in either of these 
areas, but HUD believes that these are two areas that must be taken 
into consideration in a jurisdiction's planning for its expenditure of 
HUD funds.

IV. Findings and Certifications

Regulatory Review--Executive Orders 12866 and 13563

    Under Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review), a 
determination must be made whether a regulatory action is significant 
and therefore, subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget 
(OMB) in accordance with the requirements of the order. Executive Order 
13563 (Improving Regulations and Regulatory Review) directs executive 
agencies to analyze regulations that are ``outmoded, ineffective, 
insufficient, or excessively burdensome, and to modify, streamline, 
expand, or repeal them in accordance with what has been learned. 
Executive Order 13563 also directs that, where relevant, feasible, and 
consistent with regulatory objectives, and to the extent permitted by 
law, agencies are to identify and consider regulatory approaches that 
reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice for the 
public. This rule was determined to be a ``significant regulatory 
action'' as defined in section 3(f) of Executive Order (although not an 
economically significant regulatory action, as provided under section 
3(f)(1) of the Executive Order).
    As noted in this preamble, the proposed regulatory amendments are 
designed to assist Consolidated Plan jurisdictions assess two emerging 
needs of communities in this changing world. Specifically, the proposed 
rule will direct States and local governments to consider broadband 
access and natural hazard resilience in their consolidated planning 
efforts by using readily available online data sources. Where access to 
broadband Internet service is either not currently available or only 
minimally available, jurisdictions will be required to consider ways to 
bring broadband Internet access to low- and moderate-income residents, 
including how HUD funds could be used to narrow the digital divide for 
these residents. Further, where low- and moderate-income communities 
are at risk of natural hazards, including those that may be exacerbated 
due to climate change, States and local governments must consider ways 
to incorporate hazard mitigation and resilience into their community 
planning and development goals, including the use of HUD funds.

Benefits and Costs of the Proposed Rule

A. Benefits
    The Consolidated Planning process benefits jurisdictions by 
establishing the framework for a community-wide dialogue to identify 
housing and community development needs for over a thousand communities 
across the Nation.\19\ Rather than a piecemeal

[[Page 31198]]

approach to planning based on differing program requirements, the 
Consolidated Plan enables a holistic approach to the assessment of 
affordable housing and community development needs and market 
conditions. HUD established the Consolidated Plan, through a 1994 final 
rule, for the explicit purpose of linking disparate program planning 
requirements, thereby ensuring ``that the needs and resources of . . . 
[jurisdictions] are included in a comprehensive planning effort to 
revitalize distressed neighborhoods and help low-income residents 
locally.'' \20\ The Consolidated Plan replaced a dozen separate 
planning mechanisms with a unified approach enabling communities to 
make data-driven, place-based investment decisions.\21\
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    \19\ The Consolidated Plan is used by 1,255 jurisdictions. This 
number includes 1,205 localities all 50 States.
    \20\ 60 FR 1878 (January 5, 1994).
    \21\ See footnote 15.
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    New housing and community development needs have arisen in the 21 
years since the Consolidated Plan was created. As noted in this 
preamble, two of the most pressing emerging needs facing communities in 
the twenty-first century are the digital divide and climate change:
     In a recent analysis, the President's Council of Economic 
Advisers (CEA) noted that the benefits of broadband Internet technology 
have not been evenly distributed.\22\ Research shows that there remain 
substantial disparities in both Internet use and the quality of access. 
This ``digital divide'' is concentrated among older, less educated, and 
less affluent populations, as well as in rural parts of the country 
that tend to have fewer choices and slower connections.\23\
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    \22\ The Digital Divide and Economic Benefits of Broadband 
Access, Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) Issue Brief (March 2016) 
available online at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/page/files/20160308_broadband_cea_issue_brief.pdf.
    \23\ Thom File and Camille Ryan, Computer and Internet Use in 
the United States: 2013 (U.S. Census Bureau, November 2014) 
available online at: http://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2014/acs/acs-28.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

     As President Obama has noted, climate change is happening 
now; it is not a distant threat. Its effects are already being felt in 
communities across the Nation. In some regions, droughts, wildfires, 
and floods are becoming more frequent and/or intense.\24\ Average 
temperatures across the United States have increased between 1.3 and 
1.9 degrees Fahrenheit since recordkeeping began in 1895.\25\ Heat 
waves, hurricanes, and severe storms have all become more intense, and 
sea level rise is causing some communities to flood at high tides and 
threatening homes and critical infrastructure. Climate impacts have 
affected every region across the nation and inflicted large costs on 
the economy.\26\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \24\ https://www.whitehouse.gov/energy/climate-change.
    \25\ http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/highlights/overview/climate-trends.
    \26\ http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Despite the benefits described above of a comprehensive approach to 
planning and the allocation of scarce Federal dollars, jurisdictions 
are not currently required to consider either the digital divide or 
climate change resilience in development of their Consolidated Plans. 
Jurisdictions may therefore place a low priority on assessing, and 
using Federal dollars to address, these critical issues than on other 
needs included in the Consolidated Plan. As a worst case scenario, it 
could mean that communities elect to defer considering these needs.
    The direct benefits provided by the proposed rule are, therefore, 
to help ensure that Consolidated Plan jurisdictions consider broadband 
access and natural hazard resilience as part of their comprehensive 
assessment and planning efforts, including the most effective use of 
HUD grant funds. The CEA broadband analysis discussed above noted that 
closing the digital divide can increase productivity and open ladders 
of opportunity. Likewise, community investment in natural hazard 
resilience may help to insure security and quality of life against the 
rising environmental tolls associated with climate change.\27\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \27\ See http://www.nist.gov/el/helping-to-build-a-nation-of-resilient-communities.cfm.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

B. Costs
    HUD does not anticipate that the costs of the revised consultation 
and reporting requirements will be substantial since the regulatory 
changes proposed by this proposed rule merely build upon similar 
existing requirements for other elements covered by the consolidated 
planning process rather than mandating completely new procedures. The 
economic costs of completing the Consolidated Plan are not significant. 
A complete Consolidated Plan that contains both a Strategic Plan and 
Annual Action Plan is submitted once every 3 to 5 years. An Annual 
Action Plan is submitted once a year. HUD data indicate that the cost 
of preparing the Strategic Plan for a locality is $5,236, and for a 
State is $14,382. The cost of preparing the Annual Action Plan is 
$1,904 for a locality and $6,392 for each State. While these are not 
trivial amounts, they are not substantial when considered in proportion 
to HUD grant funding (for example, the average CDBG grant to 
entitlement communities in FY 2012 was approximately $1.7 million).\28\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \28\ Eugene Boyd, Community Development Block Grants: Recent 
Funding History (Congressional Research Service, February 6, 2014), 
available online at: https://www.hsdl.org/?view&did=750383.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    HUD does not anticipate the proposed regulatory changes will add 
much, if anything, to these costs. As noted above, the required 
assessments will be based on data that are already readily available on 
the Internet. Therefore, jurisdictions will not have to incur the 
expense and administrative burdens associated with collecting data. 
Moreover, the proposed rule does not mandate that actions be taken to 
address broadband needs or climate change needs. Consolidated plan 
jurisdictions are in the best position to decide how to expend their 
HUD funds. However, HUD believes that the additional analyses required 
by this proposed rule may highlight areas where expenditure of funds 
would assist in opening up economic opportunities through increased 
broadband access or mitigate the impact of possible natural hazard 
risks and climate change impacts. HUD leaves it to jurisdictions to 
consider any appropriate methods to promote broadband access or protect 
against the adverse impacts of climate change, taking into account the 
other needs of their communities, and available funding, as identified 
through the consolidated planning process.
    Accordingly, HUD believes that the benefits of enhancing the 
ability of State and local government to comprehensively plan for 
housing and community development needs outweigh the minimal costs that 
may be associated with the revised Consolidated Plan requirements. The 
docket file is available for public inspection in the Regulations 
Division, Office of General Counsel, Department of Housing and Urban 
Development, 451 7th Street SW., Room 10276, Washington, DC 20410-0500. 
Due to security measures at the HUD Headquarters building, please 
schedule an appointment to review the docket file by calling the 
Regulation Division at 202-402-3055 (this is not a toll-free number). 
Individuals with speech or hearing impairments may access this number 
via TTY by calling the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    The information collection requirements contained in this rule have 
been submitted to the Office of

[[Page 31199]]

Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval under the Paperwork 
Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520). In accordance with the 
Paperwork Reduction Act, an agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a 
person is not required to respond to, a collection of information, 
unless the collection displays a currently valid OMB control number.
    The burden of the information collections in this rule is estimated 
as follows:

                                       Reporting and Recordkeeping Burden
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     Response
        Information collection            Number of respondents      frequency     Burden hours    Total burden
                                                                    (average) *    per response        hours
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Citizen participation plan for          1,205 localities and 50                1               2           2,510
 localities (Sec.   91.105) and States   States.
 (Sec.   91.115).
Housing market analysis for local       1,205 localities and 50                1               2           2,510
 governments (Sec.   91.210) and         States.
 States (Sec.   91.310).
                                       -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Totals............................  1,255...................               1               4           5,020
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* A complete Consolidated Plan is submitted once every 3-5 years. This response number reflects one response per
  Consolidated Plan submission.

    In accordance with 5 CFR 1320.8(d)(1), HUD is soliciting from 
members of the public and affected agencies comments on the following 
concerning this collection of information:
    (1) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for 
the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including 
whether the information will have practical utility;
    (2) The accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the 
proposed collection of information;
    (3) Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the 
information to be collected; and
    (4) Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on 
those who are to respond; including through the use of appropriate 
automated collection techniques or other forms of information 
technology; e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses.
    Interested persons are invited to submit comments regarding the 
information collection requirements in this rule. Under the provisions 
of 5 CFR part 1320, OMB is required to make a decision concerning this 
collection of information between 30 and 60 days after the publication 
date. Therefore, a comment on the information collection requirements 
is best assured of having its full effect if OMB receives the comment 
within 30 days of the publication. This time frame does not affect the 
deadline for comments to the agency on the proposed rule, however. 
Comments must refer to the proposal by name and docket number (5891-P-
01) and must be sent to:

HUD Desk Officer, Office of Management and Budget, New Executive Office 
Building, Washington, DC 20503, Fax number: 202-395-6947, and
Ms. Colette Pollard, Reports Liaison Officer, Department of Housing and 
Urban Development, 451 7th Street SW., Room 2204, Washington, DC 20410
    Interested persons may submit comments regarding the information 
collection requirements electronically through the Federal eRulemaking 
Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. HUD strongly encourages 
commenters to submit comments electronically. Electronic submission of 
comments allows the commenter maximum time to prepare and submit a 
comment, ensures timely receipt by HUD, and enables HUD to make them 
immediately available to the public. Comments submitted electronically 
through the http://www.regulations.gov Web site can be viewed by other 
commenters and interested members of the public. Commenters should 
follow the instructions provided on that site to submit comments 
electronically.

Impact on Small Entities

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) generally 
requires an agency to conduct a regulatory flexibility analysis of any 
rule subject to notice and comment rulemaking requirements, unless the 
agency certifies that the rule will not have a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small entities.
    As noted above in this preamble, the proposed regulatory amendment 
will impose minimal, if any, economic burdens on HUD grantees, 
irrespective of their size. The proposed rule will amend the 
Consolidated Plan regulations to require that States and local 
governments consider (1) broadband Internet service access for low- and 
moderate-income households to; and (2) the risk of potential natural 
hazards, including those that may be exacerbated due to climate change, 
to low- and moderate-income residents in their jurisdictions. The 
regulatory changes build upon their existing consolidated planning 
process rather than mandating completely new procedures. As discussed 
above, the economic costs of preparing the Consolidated Plan are not 
significant, and it is unlikely that the proposed changes will increase 
those costs since the required assessments will be mostly based on data 
that has already been compiled and readily available on the Internet. 
Jurisdictions will, therefore, not have to incur the expense and 
administrative burdens associated with collecting and analyzing data.
    Moreover, the proposed rule does not mandate that any actions be 
taken in response to the required assessments. Where access to 
broadband Internet service is not currently available or is minimally 
available, States and local governments must consider ways to bring 
broadband Internet access to low- and moderate-income residents, 
including how HUD funds could be used to narrow the digital divide for 
these residents. Further, where low- and moderate-income communities 
are at risk of natural hazards, including those that may be exacerbated 
due to climate change, States and local governments must consider ways 
to incorporate hazard mitigation and resilience into their community 
planning and development goals, including the use of HUD funds. 
However, jurisdictions retain the discretion to consider the most 
appropriate methods to address their assessments, taking into account 
other needs identified as part of the consolidated planning process as 
well as financial and other resource constraints. This proposed rule 
therefore, which only requires consideration of the broadband and

[[Page 31200]]

natural hazards resilience needs of low-income communities, has a 
minimal cost impact on all grantees subject to the Consolidated 
Planning process, whether large or small, and will not have a 
significant economic impact on substantial number of small entities.
    Notwithstanding HUD's determination that this proposed rule will 
not have a significant economic effect on a substantial number of small 
entities, HUD specifically invites comments regarding any less 
burdensome alternatives to this rule that will meet HUD's objectives, 
as described in this preamble.

Environmental Review

    This proposed rule does not direct, provide for assistance or loan 
and mortgage insurance for, or otherwise govern, or regulate, real 
property acquisition, disposition, leasing, rehabilitation, alteration, 
demolition, or new construction, or establish, revise or provide for 
standards for construction or construction materials, manufactured 
housing, or occupancy. Accordingly, under 24 CFR 50.19(c)(1), this 
proposed rule is categorically excluded from environmental review under 
the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321).

Executive Order 13132, Federalism

    Executive Order 13132 (entitled ``Federalism'') prohibits an agency 
from publishing any rule that has federalism implications if the rule 
imposes either substantial direct compliance costs on state and local 
governments and is not required by statute, or the rule preempts state 
law, unless the agency meets the consultation and funding requirements 
of section 6 of the Executive Order. This proposed rule would not have 
federalism implications and would not impose substantial direct 
compliance costs on state and local governments or preempt state law 
within the meaning of the Executive Order.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (2 U.S.C. 
1531-1538) (UMRA) establishes requirements for federal agencies to 
assess the effects of their regulatory actions on state, local, and 
tribal governments, and on the private sector. This proposed rule would 
not impose any federal mandates on any state, local, or tribal 
governments, or on the private sector, within the meaning of the UMRA.

List of Subjects in 24 CFR Part 91

    Aged, Grant programs--housing and community development, Homeless, 
Individuals with disabilities, Low- and moderate-income housing, 
Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, HUD proposes to amend 
part 91 as follows:

PART 91--CONSOLIDATED SUBMISSIONS FOR COMMUNITY PLANNING AND 
DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS

0
1. The authority citation for part 91 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 42 U.S.C. 3535(d), 3601-3619, 5301-5315, 11331-11388, 
12701-12711, 12741-12756, and 12901-12912.

0
2. In Sec.  91.100, add a sentence to the end of paragraph (a)(1) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  91.100  Consultation; local governments.

    (a) * * *
    (1) * * * When preparing the consolidated plan, the jurisdiction 
shall also consult with public and private organizations, including 
broadband Internet service providers, organizations engaged in 
narrowing the digital divide, agencies whose primary responsibilities 
include the management of floodprone areas, public land or water 
resources, and emergency management agencies.
* * * * *
0
3. In Sec.  91.105, add a sentence at the end of paragraph (a)(2)(ii) 
to read as follows:


Sec.  91.105  Citizen participation plan; local governments.

    (a) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (ii) * * * The jurisdiction shall encourage the participation of 
public and private organizations, including broadband Internet service 
providers, organizations engaged in narrowing the digital divide, 
agencies whose primary responsibilities include the management of 
floodprone areas, public land or water resources, and emergency 
management agencies in the process of developing the consolidated plan.
* * * * *
0
4. In Sec.  91.110, add a sentence at the end of paragraph (a) to read 
as follows:


Sec.  91.110  Consultation; States.

    (a) * * * When preparing the consolidated plan, the State shall 
also consult with public and private organizations, including broadband 
Internet service providers, organizations engaged in narrowing the 
digital divide, agencies whose primary responsibilities include the 
management of floodprone areas, public land or water resources, and 
emergency management agencies.
* * * * *
0
5. In Sec.  91.115, add a sentence at the end of paragraph (a)(2)(ii) 
to read as follows:


Sec.  91.115  Citizen participation plan; States.

    (a) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (ii) * * * The State shall also encourage the participation of 
public and private organizations, including broadband Internet service 
providers, organizations engaged in narrowing the digital divide, 
agencies whose primary responsibilities include the management of 
floodprone areas, public land or water resources, and emergency 
management agencies in the process of developing the consolidated plan.
* * * * *
0
6. In Sec.  91.200, redesignate paragraph (b)(3)(iv) as paragraph 
(b)(3)(vi), and add new paragraph (b)(3)(iv) and paragraph (b)(3)(v) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  91.200  General.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (iv) Public and private organizations, including broadband Internet 
service providers and organizations engaged in narrowing the digital 
divide;
    (v) Agencies whose primary responsibilities include the management 
of floodprone areas, public land or water resources, and emergency 
management agencies; and
* * * * *
0
7. Revise Sec.  91.210(a) to read as follows:


Sec.  91.210  Housing market analysis.

    (a) General characteristics. (1) Based on information available to 
the jurisdiction, the plan must describe the significant 
characteristics of the jurisdiction's housing market, including the 
supply, demand, and condition and cost of housing and the housing stock 
available to serve persons with disabilities, and to serve other low-
income persons with special needs, including persons with HIV/AIDS and 
their families.
    (2) Data on the housing market should include, to the extent 
information is available, an estimate of the number of vacant or 
abandoned buildings and whether units in these buildings are suitable 
for rehabilitation.
    (3) The jurisdiction must also identify and describe any areas 
within the jurisdiction with concentrations of racial/ethnic minorities 
and/or low-income families, stating how it defines the terms ``area of 
low-income concentration'' and ``area of minority concentration'' for 
this purpose. The locations and degree of these

[[Page 31201]]

concentrations must be identified, either in a narrative or on one or 
more maps.
    (4) The jurisdiction must also describe the broadband needs of 
housing occupied by low- and moderate-income households based on an 
analysis of data for its low- and moderate-income neighborhoods in the 
National Broadband Map. Jurisdictions may also use broadband 
availability data in the FCC Form 477 or other data identified by the 
jurisdiction, for which the source is cited in the jurisdiction's 
Consolidated Plan. These needs include the need for broadband wiring 
and for connection to the broadband service in the household units, the 
need for increased competition by having more than one broadband 
Internet service provider serve the jurisdiction.
    (5) The jurisdiction must also describe the vulnerability of 
housing occupied by low- and moderate-income households to increased 
natural hazard risks associated with climate change based on an 
analysis of data, findings, and methods in:
    (i) The National Climate Assessment, the Climate Resilience 
Toolkit, the Impact of Climate Change and Population Growth on the 
National Flood Insurance Program, or the NIST Community Resilience 
Planning Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems;
    (ii) Other climate risk-related data published by the Federal 
government or other State or local government climate risk-related 
data, including hazard mitigation plans approved by the Federal 
Emergency Management Agency that incorporate climate change; or
    (iii) Other climate risk data identified by the jurisdiction, for 
which the source is cited in the jurisdiction's Consolidated Plan.
* * * * *
0
8. In Sec.  91.300, remove the word ``and'' following the semicolon at 
the end of paragraph (b)(3)(iii), redesignate paragraph (b)(3)(iv) as 
paragraph (b)(3)(vi), and add new paragraph (b)(3)(iv) and paragraph 
(b)(3)(v) to read as follows:


Sec.  91.300  General.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (iv) Public and private organizations, including broadband Internet 
service providers and organizations engaged in narrowing the digital 
divide;
    (v) Agencies whose primary responsibilities include the management 
of floodprone areas, public land or water resources, and emergency 
management agencies; and
* * * * *
0
9. Revise Sec.  91.310(a) to read as follows:


Sec.  91.310  Housing market analysis.

    (a) General characteristics. (1) Based on data available to the 
State, the plan must describe the significant characteristics of the 
State's housing markets (including such aspects as the supply, demand, 
and condition and cost of housing).
    (2) The State must describe the broadband needs of housing in the 
State based on an analysis of data in the National Broadband Map. 
States may also use broadband availability data in the FCC Form 477 or 
other data identified by the jurisdiction, for which the source is 
cited in the jurisdiction's Consolidated Plan. These needs include the 
need for broadband wiring and for connection to the broadband service 
in the household units, the need for increased competition by having 
more than one broadband Internet service provider serve the 
jurisdiction.
    (3) The State must also describe the vulnerability of housing 
occupied by low- and moderate-income households to increased natural 
hazard risks due to climate change based on an analysis of data, 
findings, and methods in:
    (i) The National Climate Assessment, the Climate Resilience 
Toolkit, the Impact of Climate Change and Population Growth on the 
National Flood Insurance Program, or the NIST Community Resilience 
Planning Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems;
    (ii) Other climate risk-related data published by the Federal 
government or other State or local government climate risk-related 
data, including hazard mitigation plans approved by the Federal 
Emergency Management Agency that incorporate climate change; or
    (iii) Other climate risk data identified by the jurisdiction, for 
which the source is cited in the jurisdiction's Consolidated Plan.
* * * * *

    Dated: April 15, 2016.
Harriet Tregoning,
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and 
Development.
[FR Doc. 2016-11350 Filed 5-17-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4210-67-P