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Biden-Harris Administration Announces Uniform Act Final Rule with Enhanced Protections, Assistance for People Affected by Federally-Funded Projects

Friday, May 3, 2024

First update in almost 20 years makes important changes to help those displaced or otherwise impacted such as raising benefit levels to account for inflation

WASHINGTON – The Biden-Harris Administration today announced a final rule to update the government-wide Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970 (Uniform Act), which provides protections and assistance for people affected by federally-funded projects. The final rule is the first update in almost 20 years and makes important changes to help those displaced or otherwise affected by federally-funded projects. It also includes important equity considerations, including raising the benefit levels to account for inflation, provides new authority to ensure future benefit levels are adjusted expeditiously, and improves benefits and services for displaced individuals to advance the Administration’s equity goals. 

“Congress passed the Uniform Act over half a century ago to protect people whose lives were impacted by federally-funded projects,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Buttigieg. “This final rule includes critical updates that make sure those protections match the needs of the 21st century—and offer fair compensation and moving assistance to the people impacted by projects.”  

“This update to the Uniform Act demonstrates the Biden-Harris Administration’s continued commitment to improving equity for all Americans,” said Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt. “Increasing benefit levels helps keep pace with inflation and makes a big difference for those impacted. This update ensures we meet the needs and preferences for folks impacted by displacement and helps the federal government minimize impacts throughout the relocation process.”

The final rule enhances benefits and services focused on improving equity and fairness for tenants, homeowners, businesses, and other entities. Enhanced benefits and services include:

  • The rule updates key Uniform Act benefit levels to account for inflation since 2012, resulting in a 33% increase in benefit levels for people and businesses that are required to move as a result of federally-funded projects. 
  • The rule clarifies that additional fees, such as credit check fees and application fees, are eligible for reimbursement. 
  • The rule clarifies that to the extent feasible, comparable replacement dwellings are to be selected from the neighborhood in which the displacement dwelling was located or, if that is not possible, in nearby or similar neighborhoods where housing costs are generally the same or higher.  
  • The rule highlights the information that should be gathered during the interview of a person to be displaced to understand the displaced person’s preferences and needs in replacement housing. 
  • The rule includes a focus on the purpose of the relocation planning process, requiring agencies to plan projects to better identify problems and solutions to minimize adverse impacts of displacement on individuals, families, businesses, farms, and nonprofit organizations. 

Additional Uniform Act updates include streamlining government processes by reducing paperwork and administrative burdens of government regulations on the public and agencies subject to Uniform Act requirements.

The U.S. DOT was named as the lead agency for the Uniform Act making it responsible for developing, issuing, and maintaining government-wide regulations and assistance to the 17 Uniform Act Federal agencies. USDOT is also required to submit an annual report to Congress.

For more information on the Uniform Act, please visit FHWA’s Uniform Act web page. The Final Rule can be found in the Federal Register. A webinar will take place on May 21, 2024, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. EST, to inform stakeholders of the latest updates.  

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