Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs - Building Homes and Strengthening Communities

Program Services Announcements

Attention! Possible Delays for Environmental Clearances in August

Environmental reviews may be delayed due to activities related to end of fiscal year close-out and external monitoring activities.  We anticipate any delays will be confined to the period of August 18 – 29, 2014 and that normal environmental review and clearances should resume September 2, 2014.  Requests for review received by August 4th will receive prioritized consideration prior to this anticipated delay, as long as Program Services receives all necessary materials and finds no deficiencies. 

To avoid delays in the environmental review and clearance process use the following list of common deficiencies to double-check your submission.

Common mistakes that Delay Environmental Clearance Reviews:

  1. Conclusions insufficient for some elements on the checklists (leaves unanswered questions for reviewer)
  2. Support documentation missing
  3. Lack of Tribal review as part of historic review
  4. Floodplain mapping missing or inadequate
  5. Noise studies incorrect and all three distances not noted on the checklist
  6. Toxic Chemicals insufficiently reviewed, must include a review through EPA's website: NEPAssist (www.epa.gov/compliance/nepa/nepassist-mapping.html)
  7. Format incorrect (visit Environmental Clearance Process Documents and Forms)

Send any questions regarding this announcement to environmental@tdhca.state.tx.us.

Environmental Clearance

Mandatory Format for Submitting Environmental Review Documents Required for Multifamily Projects (August 2013)

HUD Part 58 Environmental Review always suggested a certain format.  TDHCA now makes this formatting mandatory.  All HUD Part 58 Environmental Review Submissions must follow the prescribed format and document order as explained in the following documents:

Effective August 1, 2013, all environmental review submissions MUST adhere to this format or the Department will reject the submission and return it to the submitter.  This requirement should enable the Department to provide a quicker and more streamlined review for our multifamily partners.

Vapor Encroachment Screening

Project applicants must screen for vapor encroachment as part of the Phase I ESA following ASTM 2600-10.  If the project applicant did not perform a vapor encroachment screening as part of the original Phase I ESA, the applicant must perform an update to include this additional scope item.

These requirements apply to all projects with HOME funding not yet "closed on" as of August 1, 2013.

Choice Limiting Actions - Don't Jeopardize your Project!

A signed Certification is a part of all applications. Signing this certification affirms an awareness of and intention not to take any "choice limiting" actions until environmental clearance from TDHCA is obtained. The consequences to moving forward on a project without environmental clearance are both time and loss of funding.

Does this apply to my project?

If the answer is yes to either of the questions posed below, then you must not take any choice limiting actions prior to environmental clearance or project funds will be placed in jeopardy.

  • Was an application submitted for funding (Tax Credit or other) that includes federal funds (HOME, CDBG, NSP), or
  • Was an award received that includes federal funds (HOME, CDBG, NSP) including federal funds from a locality rather than TDHCA?

What are choice limiting actions?

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development regulations provide guidance as follows:

  • Neither a recipient nor any participant in the development process, including public or private nonprofit or for-profit entities, or any of their contractors, may commit HUD assistance before receiving environmental clearance.
  • In addition, neither a recipient nor any participant in the development process may commit non-HUD funds on or undertake an activity or project or limit the choice of reasonable alternatives before receiving environmental clearance..

What does all that mean?

Bottom Line: Participants in TDHCA programs using federal funds cannot take a "choice limiting action" until a Part 58 environmental clearance is received from TDHCA. In addition, the environmental requirements are not met solely by the Phase I ESA nor are they related to the Site and Neighborhood Requirements (this requirement is dealt with within the Multifamily Division).

What are Some Examples of Choice Limiting Actions? (The definition has been expanded)

The following actions are restricted after submission of an application but before environmental clearance occurs. It includes all funding (not just the portion paid by federal funds).

  • Closing on land or signing a lease regardless of price or funding source.
  • Signing contracts for construction or purchasing materials for any portion of project including those items not paid for by federal funds.
  • Transfer or sale of property between any entity within the ownership structure regardless of funding source.

For additional guidance contact the environmental team by e-mail at environmental@tdhca.state.tx.us