Distressed Cities Technical Assistance

The Distressed Cities 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) that are economically distressed. The economic distress 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 to successfully implement projects and 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 economic stabilization and recovery, federal development programs, affordable housing financing, community engagement practices, cross-sector partnerships, and plan implementation.

Approved TA engagements begin with an assessment of your local government’s fiscal health and financial management practices. 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 UGLG’s technical assistance.

This program is designed to help small UGLGs:

  • Improve Financial Management: Adopt effective, efficient, and sustainable (long-term) financial management practices that improve fiscal health
  • Build Program Capacity: Based on the UGLG’s interests, build capacity in one program area, 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
  • Improve Internal Processes: Based on the UGLG’s needs, improve at least one internal process, 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

This program allows HUD to develop a set of best practices and recommendations to share with other communities facing similar challenges.

Capacity Needs Assessment

The first phase of DCTA is a capacity needs assessment (CNA). To learn more about the CNA process, as well as the financial management component of the CNA, view the resources below.

If you have any questions about the DCTA program please contact the DCTA Team at distressedcities@hud.gov.

Learn More

Learn more about the DCTA program, including program basics, terminology, eligibility and selection criteria, and TA.

English Fact Sheet

Spanish Fact Sheet

DCTA Resources

Access resources, webinars, reports, and other information relevant to small UGLGs, including COVID-19 resources.

View the DCTA Resources

Eligibility Criteria

Distressed Community

Meets at least one of these criteria:

  • Average unemployment rate of 9 percent or more over the past three years, using American Community Survey (ACS) 5-Year Estimates

    View the "Employment Status" Table, click on the "Geographies" button above the table, and search for your community. Make sure you find the data for the three most recent ACS 5-Year tables. These can be selected using the "product" dropdown menu.

  • A poverty rate of 20 percent or more among individuals not enrolled in higher education, as of the most recent ACS 5-Year Estimates

    View the "Poverty Status in the Past 12 Months by School Enrollment by Level of School for the Population 3 Years and Over" Table, click on the "Geographies" button above the table, and search for your community. The calculation of the poverty rate should not include individuals enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs, which are listed under their own columns.

  • A population decline of 5 percent or more between the 2010 Decennial Census and the most recent ACS 5-Year Estimates

    View the Decennial Census data and the ACS 5-Year Estimates for your community.
If you need assistance accessing the data described above, please email distressedcities@hud.gov with “Data Assistance [Your UGLG Name]” in the subject line.

Population Size

Community's population is less than 40,000 people, according to the most recent ACS 5-Year Estimates.

Communities with populations between 8,000 and 40,000 will be prioritized for TA under this program. The DCTA Team is working on alternative resources to assist communities with populations under 8,000.

Visit https://data.census.gov to locate the total population for your community.

Request Technical Assistance

If your community meets these criteria and may benefit from Distressed Cities TA, you may request TA via an email to distressedcities@hud.gov.

It is recommended that your city manager, mayor, or the equivalent submit the request for TA. This person will be encouraged to participate in preliminary phone calls with the DCTA Team. The request must be submitted by an employee of the UGLG.

The request should be submitted as a PDF document which includes the following details:

  • Name of UGLG:
    e.g., City, County, Township, Village, etc., for example Sample City

  • State:

  • HUD Field Office:
    Note: It is encouraged that you contact your HUD Field Office prior to submitting a request for TA.

  • Point of Contact:
    Name, Title, Organization, Email, Phone Number

  • HUD TA Background (if any):
    i.e., Dates and details of TA consultations in past three years

  • Unemployment Rate:
    Please provide the UGLG’s average unemployment rate from the three most recent ACS 5-Year Estimates.

  • Poverty Rate:
    Please provide the UGLG’s poverty rate among individuals not enrolled in higher education from the most recent ACS 5-Year Estimates.

  • Population Decline %:
    Please provide the UGLG’s population change (as a percentage) between the 2010 Decennial Census and the most recent ACS 5-Year Estimates.

  • Total Population:
    Please provide the total population from the most recent ACS 5-Year Estimates. If your community’s total population is not within the range of 8,000 and 40,000, you may still submit a request, however your request may not be prioritized.

  • Please select the program area(s) for which your UGLG requests assistance. If other, please state the program area(s). Please state which program area is your highest priority:
    • Economic development in general
    • Economic development in a specific area (for example, workforce development, Main Street/commercial corridor revitalization, or small business supports)
    • Expanding housing options in general
    • Expanding housing options using a specific strategy (for example, preserving existing housing stock, acquiring and redeveloping vacant or rundown houses, providing temporary housing for persons experiencing homelessness; or financing new multifamily housing developments)
    • Other

  • If known, please list the internal process(es) for which your UGLG requests assistance:
    • Gathering and analyzing data that is representative of the community and illuminates unmet needs
    • Developing policies and procedures for financial management and programs
    • Implementing or tracking progress of recently adopted planning documents
    • Building cross-sector partnerships
    • Establishing equitable community engagement practices
    • Other

  • Please attach relevant documents. The following documents are recommended for consideration:
    1. Organizational chart (or written description of information useful for understanding current staff capacity and skill areas)
    2. Most recent comprehensive plan (master plans and consolidated plans are appropriate alternatives)
    3. Most recent annual report/update on your community's comprehensive plan
    4. Most recent financial audit

Contact distressedcities@hud.gov if you have questions about the requested information.

Eligibility Note

Only UGLGs are eligible to receive this TA. Please do not submit a request to the Distressed Cities email if you are not a representative of a UGLG.


Review the FAQs to get answers to common questions.

View the DCTA FAQs

If you have questions about this TA after reviewing the FAQs, you can email the DCTA Team.

Email the DCTA Team