Distressed Cities and Persistent Poverty Technical Assistance

The Distressed Cities and Persistent Poverty Technical Assistance (DCTA) program is designed to improve fiscal health and build administrative capacity of relatively small units of general local government (UGLGs or local governments) and their nonprofit partners in places experiencing persistent poverty and economic distress. A community’s needs may be attributable to multiple factors including but not limited to changing market dynamics, emigration, and/or natural disasters.

DCTA considers good fiscal health, strong financial performance, and effective financial management practices to be the foundation for local governments and nonprofits to successfully obtain funding, implement projects, and accomplish goals. These are viewed as the central components of the technical assistance (TA) offered through this program. Other possible areas of TA under this program include governance and management, leadership development, data and research, building partnerships, community engagement, strategic planning, plan implementation, and program evaluation.


What are the benefits of participating in the DCTA Program?

This program is designed to help small local governments and their nonprofit partners:

  • Improve Financial Management: Adopt effective, efficient, and sustainable (long-term) financial management practices that improve fiscal health
  • Improve Internal Processes: Based on the local government and nonprofit’s needs, improve internal processes, such as:
    • Developing financial policies and procedures
    • Gathering and analyzing data that is representative of the community
    • Implementing or tracking progress of recently adopted planning documents
    • Building cross-sector partnerships
    • Establishing equitable community engagement practices
  • Build Program Capacity: Based on the local government’s interests, build capacity program areas, such as:
    • Creating opportunities for economic revitalization and growth
    • Planning for economic stabilization and recovery post disaster (including prolonged disasters and public health crises)
    • Strategizing around housing and community development projects, including identifying funding
    • Leveraging federal development programs such as opportunity zones

Key Phases of the DCTA Engagement

A flow chart of three circles each encompassing one of the three phases of the DCTA engagement. First circle contains Phase I: Capacity Needs Assessment. Second circle contains Phase II: Technical Assistance. Third circle contains TA Closeout. There is a bubble under the first circle with an arrow pointing to the circle describing the three parts of the CNA Phase: Part 1 Financial Management Assessment, Part 2 Assessment of UGLG Needs and Capacity, and Part 3 CNA Summary & TA Recommendations

* The timeline for each phase depends on the scale and challenge of the needs for each engagement. The average duration of engagement (Phase 1 through Phase 3) is estimated to be 18 months.

Phase I: Capacity Needs Assessment

The first phase of DCTA is a capacity needs assessment (CNA). Importantly, this not a community needs assessment, this assessment focuses on the local government itself and its operations as an entity. The CNA helps the local government and the TA team identify strengths, as well as needs, within current fiscal management, funding acquisition, and community development activities. Key areas of capacity assessment, beyond financial management and fiscal health, include economic development, affordable housing, community engagement and partnerships, and disaster recovery as needed. To learn more about the CNA process, as well as the financial management component of the CNA, view the tool below.

View the Capacity Needs Assessment Tool

Note, any information gathered through this assessment is not used by HUD or any other agency for program monitoring or compliance; it is only used to guide your technical assistance.

Phase II: Direct Technical Assistance

The second phase of DCTA provides direct assistance from field experts to address the needs identified during the CNA process. These activities may involve the provision of training and assistance in using tools, templates, and best practices for maximizing financial capacity and funds administration. TA teams often help the local government with community partnership development, downtown development, and affordable housing plans. Direct TA helps connect the local government with federal funding opportunities, regional and state initiatives, and local nonprofits focused on the priorities identified through the CNA. This phase builds capacity and long-term sustainability for growth and development.


Learn More

Learn more about the DCTA program, including program basics, eligibility, process examples, and current recipients. If you have any questions, please contact distressedcities@hud.gov.

Visit the DCTA Program page on HUD.gov


Request TA

If your community is eligible and might benefit from the DCTA program, please submit a request for TA.

Request TA

Engagement Spotlight

Each quarter, a new Engagement Spotlight will showcase some of the exciting achievements by local governments and nonprofits participating in the DCTA program. Watch this space as we uplift and share positive outcomes in communities actively engaging with the DCTA program!

Current Spotlight: New Castle, PA

New Castle, PA Spotlight Logo

View Spotlight

Resources, Tools, Webinars, and Guidance

In addition to direct support from field experts, the DCTA program provides a wealth of resources compiled in the DCTA Resources Library which is updated bi-weekly.

  • Stay up to date on key information to help guide local strategies and decisions.
  • Access the latest tools, guidance, studies, reports, training, funding opportunities, and more.
  • Explore topics such as navigating federal funding streams, improving community engagement, developing affordable housing initiatives, recovering from natural disasters and public health emergencies, and facilitating economic development in downtowns and business corridors.

View the DCTA Resource Library