HUD has announced the eCon Planning Suite, new tools for the Consolidated Plan to support need-driven, place-based decision-making that will engage informed public participation and improve community and economic development outcomes. These new tools will make expanded data available online for anyone to access through CPD Maps, a sophisticated and easy-to-use mapping tool to help interpret the data. In addition, HUD has created an online template for the Consolidated Plan, which will help facilitate place-based discussions and make all local and state plans available online. HUD anticipates that these resources will make it easier for community members to participate in the decision-making process.
These tools will help communities target resources and improve community outcomes, provide a framework to guide other funding coming into communities from foundations and other sources, build a library of local strategies and best practices, empower more informed community participation, and ultimately provide better information about the effectiveness of these local efforts.
Communities receiving HUD block grant funding face diminishing resources to address community needs and comply with grant regulations. In 2012 there 1,250 grantees are subject to Con Plan requirements, and since 2008 the number of grantees has increased while overall funding has declined.
Because of limited information about market conditions and lack of useful tools, HUD’s review of Consolidated Plans has focused on whether the plans met regulatory requirements. Now, HUD seeks to shift this focus to need-driven planning and decision-making that results in decent housing, a suitable living environment, and expanded economic opportunities for low- and moderate-income persons. HUD understands that—in addition to ensuring compliance—its role is to support communities in their efforts to design data-driven strategies to address fundamental affordable housing and community development problems.