Environmental Clearance means HUD’s provision of an Authority to Use Grant Funds (AUGF) following approval by the Responsible Entity (RE) of an ER conducted under 24 CFR part 58 and submission of a Request for Release of Funds/Certification (RROF/C), or final approval from a HUD Approving Official of an ER conducted under 24 CFR part 50. (See PIH Notice 2016-22.) PHAs are responsible for providing the RE or local Office of Public Housing (Field Office) with a full description of the activities in connection with the demolition and/or disposition (including relocation, known future use of the site, use of disposition proceeds) to comply with aggregation requirements. The site re-use is not limited to future actions by the PHA, but includes any future known re-use by future owners.
ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW CONDUCTED WITH IN THE LAST 5 YEARS
Environmental Reviews (ER) must be conducted within the last five years and must contemplate the same project description and scope as proposed as the future use in the SAC application. However, SAC strongly encourages PHAs to have the ER conducted within one year prior to submission of the SAC application, to ensure it fully captures the planned future use and current condition of the property.
COMPLETE PRIOR TO SUBMISSION
The Environmental Review (ER) must be completed PRIOR to the submission of the SAC application in IMS/PIC.
Exceptions are made when the demolition or disposition meets the emergency requirements stated in 58.33 (i.e., there is a Presidentially or locally declared disaster and an immediate need for the proposed action to protect the public safety). In this instance, 24 CFR 58.33 allows for a Notice of Intent to Request Release of Funds (NOI-RROF) and FONSI to be published simultaneously with the submission of the RROF/C 7015.15 to HUD. If the project meets requirements of 24 CFR 58.33, the public comment period and objection period can be held concurrently over one 15-day period. The public notice must state that the public comment and objection periods have been combined. All comments must be submitted to both the Responsible Entity (RE) and HUD. In this case, the RE publishes the public notice AND submits the RROF/C simultaneously. Then the 15-day comment and objection periods are held concurrently, followed by HUD’s approval of the RROF (by issuing the AUGF)(added this to stay consistent with the description above). On a case-by-case basis, if there are timing issues related to the need to obtain HUD approval of the SAC application (i.e., LIHTC closing deadline), SAC may allow a PHA to submit a SAC application during the public comment for the FONSI notice, so that SAC can begin its review of the application. SAC may also allow a PHA to submit an (incomplete) SAC application (i.e., an application without completion of the ER) in order to secure Emergency Tenant Protection Vouchers (TPVs) and issue the families tenant-based HCV assistance. (See Appropriations language for TPVs in PIH Notice 2021-10.) Please contact SACTA@hud.gov.
SCOPE/PROJECT CHANGES MAY AFFECT ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW
If the scope/project changes to the extent that it is materially different from what is in the SAC approval, pursuant to 24 CFR 970.7(b), the PHA is required to request that the SAC approval reflect this change (generally through the request for a rescission of the current SAC approval under 24 CFR 970.7(b) and the submission of a new SAC application (but may be able to be processed through an amendment, on a case-by-case basis).
If a new SAC application is submitted, it will require a new ER or reevaluation of the original ER, pursuant to 24 CFR 970.13. The ER requirements for the new application may be able to be satisfied through a re-evaluation by the RE of the ER completed with the previous SAC application. It is up to the RE to make the determination as to whether a new ER is required (based on the updated project description, project scope, and environmental conditions, refer to 24 CFR 58.47 for a complete description of the reevaluation criteria). If a new review is required, the RE may choose to use the past ER to guide completion of the new ER. If the PHA delays the approved Section 18 demolition or disposition and continues to operate a public housing project in accordance with public housing requirements, the project is subject to the normal environmental requirements for public housing property. (See PIH Notice 2016-22.)