Rural nonprofit organizations increasingly rely on a combination of funding sources, including U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development (RD) as well as state and local funds, to develop affordable housing. Both HUD and RD require environmental reviews for housing projects to be completed prior to approval of financial assistance.
An environmental review may also be required when state or local funds are used. An environmental review (ER) is undoubtedly a valuable step in the development process. The environmental review allows HUD, RD, and applicants to make better decisions and take appropriate actions that protect, restore, and enhance the environment by considering environmental issues early in the planning process.
The environmental review can decrease project expenses and delays, and allow the public a chance to participate in the decisionmaking process in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act. The environmental review requires an understanding of a variety of laws, Executive Orders, and regulations. In order to fulfill the requirements of differing funding sources, rural nonprofit organizations need clear instructions and tools to navigate HUD’s and RD’s similar – but distinct – processes. The Housing Assistance Council developed this guide to familiarize rural developers with the environmental review processes required when requesting HUD or RD financial assistance.
This guide is divided into two major sections: 1) guidelines for the HUD environmental review and 2) guidelines for the RD environmental review. This guide was drafted using HUD regulations on “Environmental Review Procedures for Entities Assuming HUD Environmental Responsibilities” at 24 CFR part 58, and RD Instruction 1940-G (7 CFR 1940 subpart G). Included in this guide are the steps in an environmental review, a discussion of the various levels of environmental review, factors that are reviewed