What is CRRSAA?
On December 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Act of 2021 (CRRSAA) was signed into law. For Enhanced Mobility for Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities Program (Section 5310) grantees, this means that for the first time during the pandemic, there are relief funds specifically for Section 5310 programs. This is welcome news in particular for those who receive no other Federal transportation funding yet have been working hard to adapt and provide transportation and other essential services during the pandemic.
The main hub for CRRSAA information from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is found here on the CRRSAA landing page. https://www.transit.dot.gov/funding/grants/coronavirus-response-and-relief-supplemental-appropriations-act-2021. This website includes links to the bill language, apportionment table and frequently asked questions.
Below are some highlights about the CRRSAA funding specific to the Section 5310 program that will help you determine how you may access the funds and some of the requirements.
- If you are subrecipient, check with the entity that currently awards the Section 5310 funding which may be your state Department of Transportation, or Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). Each state or MPO has discretion on how and to whom they choose to award the CRRSAA funding. You do not necessarily have to be a current recipient, so it is worth reaching out to see if you may be eligible.
- If you are a direct or designated recipient, you can work with your FTA Regional Office if you have questions about how to award and track the CRRSAA funding.
- In this relief funding bill, there is a new requirement that prioritizes operational funding. Ensure you are aware of how this affects distribution of funding, how you can use the funding, and that all appropriate guidelines are followed.
- The CRRSAA funds can cover expenses that date back to January 20, 2020.
To help grantees, both direct and subrecipients, understand more about the available CRRSAA funding for Section 5310, the National Aging & Disability Transportation Center (NADTC) hosted two webinars with FTA staff.
During the NADTC webinar focusing on direct and designated recipients on February 9, 2021 https://www.nadtc.org/event/webinar-1-crrsaa-for-5310-direct-recipients/, Jenna Henning from Massachusetts DOT noted that while not finalized yet, they are looking at prioritizing non-profits during their CRRSAA Section 5310 award process. They are one of many states where non-profits are current subrecipients who use Section 5310 funds for operational expenses as well as capital. These programs are essential in their communities as they fill gaps in time of service, area of service, and level of service that are needed by many older adults and people with disabilities.
The webinar on February 11 was targeted to subrecipients. https://www.nadtc.org/event/webinar-2-crrsaa-for-5310-subrecipients-and-tribes/ Jane Skinner from the Peninsula Jewish Community Center noted that their expenses during the pandemic increased due to the need for personal protective equipment, physical barriers on vehicles, additional mailings to customers, and additional time needed to clean the vehicle between rides. These expenses are above and beyond their normal operating costs and additional funding would help to offset these costs.
During the question and answer time during both webinars, a question about the use of CRRSAA 5310 funding for rides to get vaccinations was asked. FTA has an updated response (CE18) to this question in their FAQ section. It states:
Under the Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities Program (49 U.S.C. § 5310), providing transportation for seniors and individuals with disabilities to COVID-19 vaccination sites is eligible at a 100-percent Federal share when using CRRSAA or FY 2021 or prior year unobligated funds.
For answers to additional questions, visit their Frequently Asked Questions page: https://www.transit.dot.gov/frequently-asked-questions-fta-grantees-regarding-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19
As many grantees of Section 5310 funding continue to provide rides for COVID as well as non-COVID related purposes, it is important to recognize that whether they have used 5310 funds for vehicles and/or operating expenses in the past, they need to follow CDC guidance on masking while on public transportation.
Here are two links to help you, as an FTA grantee, follow the guidance.
FTA website https://www.transit.dot.gov/TransitMaskUp
CDC FAQ website https://www.transportation.gov/safety/mask-travel-guidance
The Enhanced Mobility for Seniors and People with Disabilities Program, Section 5310, is a critical funding source for the provision of transportation to older adults and people with disabilities. These programs are often the only transportation services available in their community and provide targeted services to a vulnerable group of people most in need of accessible transportation options. As vaccinations roll-out and communities again begin to open, these transportation programs will be even more valuable for those who rely on them.
Visit the NADTC COVID-19 Resource page for more resources. https://www.nadtc.org/covid-19-resource-center/
Carrie Diamond is the Training & Technical Assistance Specialist for the National Aging & Disability Transportation Center and Easterseals.