House Bill Would Broaden Availability of HUD BEDI Grants
On December 13, 2005, the U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 280, which, if enacted, would authorize the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") to award Brownfields Economic Development Initiative ("BEDI") grants without requiring that the grants be coupled with Section 108 loan guarantees. The bill, referred to as the Brownfields Redevelopment Enhancement Act, would also appropriate $69 million for BEDI grants over the next five years. Although HUD's BEDI grant program has successfully assisted numerous communities in redeveloping brownfield sites over the past eight years, the requirement that a Section 108 loan accompany a BEDI grant has proven to be a barrier to many other communities' willingness or ability to apply for BEDI grants, because the Section 108 loan program requires communities to pledge their annual HUD community development block grant allocations as collateral for the loans. A similar bill was passed in the House of Representatives in 2002 but was never voted on by the Senate. At present, no similarly-worded bill has been introduced in the Senate, but sponsors of the House bill hope that a similar bill will be attached to other pending Senate legislation in early 2006.