Community Development Block Grants address needs in low & moderate income communtiesChristopher G. Cox / March 31, 2017
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Editor’s Note: The federal budget “blueprint” recently introduced by the administration of President Trump virtually eliminates CDBG funding for every state in the nation, jeopardizing such programs as Meals on Wheels, as well as the other programs described in this column.
Every year hundreds of states, cities and localities compete for billions of dollars in Community Block Grant Development (CDBG) funds available from the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Department. Since 1974, more than $144 billion in CDBG funds have been distributed to address a wide range of community needs in virtually every state in the nation.
There are currently well over a thousand grantees throughout the country with funding dispersed to more than 7,000 local governments for any of 28 eligible activities, including economic development projects, installation of public facilities, community centers, housing rehabilitation, code enforcement and much more.
“Without the regular infusion of CBDG funds from HUD,” said Lamont Taylor, division manager in Greensboro’s Neighborhood Development Department, “the quality of life for thousands of low- and moderate-income residents would be severely impacted.”
The CDBG program is designed to ensure that communities offer decent affordable housing, as well as to create and retain jobs by supporting economic development activities. The amount of each CDBG allocation is determined by HUD using a formula that evaluates several measures, including the extent of poverty, population level, the extent of housing overcrowding, age of housing and population growth in relation to other metropolitan areas.
Not less than 70 percent of CDBG funds must be used for activities that benefit low- and moderate-income residents. In addition to benefiting low- and moderate-income individuals and preventing or eliminating slums and blight, activities must address otherwise unfunded solutions to conditions that pose a serious and immediate threat to the health and welfare of a community.
As an entitlement community, Greensboro is eligible to receive an annual CDBG grant of just over $2 million. The most recent grant was $2,022,321, a 2.8 percent increase over the previous year’s grant. The city’s CDBG funding is used for housing rehabilitation, homelessness prevention and neighborhood/economic area redevelopment activities.
A recent success of the program is the development of the first component of Union Square at South Elm, which is an 83,000 square foot state-of-the-art building for the training and education of health care professionals from the University North Carolina at Greensboro, North Carolina A&T State University, Guilford Technical Community College, and Cone Health. CDBG and other funds provided significant resources for land acquisition, environmental assessment, and remediation of the South Elm Street Brownfields Redevelopment area. The master plan for redevelopment includes apartments, retail, structured parking and a hotel, which is anticipated to bring hundreds of residents and over $100 million in private investment to downtown Greensboro by 2025.
Citizen participation is an important component of every CDBG grant. The city reaches out to the community through a citizen participation process, which includes public hearings that provide an opportunity for public input about the proposed uses of funding for development of the Annual Action Plan it submits to HUD.
Additional information about how Greensboro uses CDBG and other HUD funds can be found on the city’s Web site at www.greensboro-nc.gov.
Christopher Cox’s articles focus on community and economic development.