City staff making CDBG funding recommendations during Tuesday’s commission meeting

City staff are making their recommendation Tuesday night on funding priorities for this year’s Community Development Block Grant allocation.

Staff is recommending 50 percent for public improvements; 45 percent for residential housing rehabilitation and five percent for public services.

Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the funding priorities during their May 15 meeting.

These percentages would apply to the upcoming allocation of an estimated $702,000 and the $569,000 of unallocated program income within the Revolving Loan Fund; as well as the $228,000 in unallocated CDBG funds from prior years, minus the $274,000 for administration of the programs approved in the grant policies.

Commissioners approved the grant policies on April 17, which included funding the administration of the CDBG and HOME programs and to continue to support fair housing through a fair housing specialist position and a code enforcement officer.

Commissioners approve CDBG grant policies, citizen participation plan

Staff is also recommending that the City Commission authorize staff to have the limited authority to adjust the percent recommendations by 0 to 10 percent based in timeliness needs under U.S. Housing and Urban Development regulations. The timeliness regulation requires the city to have no more than 1.5 times their annual allocation by May 2 each year. Staff is asking for the ability to respond to that requirement as needed, while remaining within the identified and approved priorities, according to the staff report.

The city faced potential noncompliance with the timeliness requirement for the last two years and staff wrote in their report that allowing them some flexibility with the percentages would allow them to be proactive in meeting that requirement.

Commission approves CDBG funds for Great Falls park, sidewalks, housing authority

Through the city’s public engagement process, which include Neighborhood Council meetings, a survey, stakeholder meetings, a public hearing during a commission meeting and a public comment period, the top need identified was public improvements.

Community members returned 355 surveys with comments on the CDBG priorities and there will be a 30-day comment period on the city’s annual action plan.

Staff making recommendations for revised Great Falls CDBG process; grant funding

Staff has recommended the largest allocation of 50 percent, or about $622,000, toward this category to enhance public infrastructure, including sidewalks, curb ramps, city facility accessibility and playground equipment to improve ADA access. The public improvements designation includes that at a minimum, 20 percent, or about $249,000, of the total annual budget must be specifically allocated to retrofit ADA access projects.

City sent response letter to HUD on conflict of interest issues, awaiting response

Residential Housing Rehabilitation was the second need identified and staff is recommending 45 percent, or about $560,000, for this category to provide funding toward low-interest loans for property owners; to assist very low to moderate income people to bring properties up to code; and upgrade the city’s housing stock to provide safe, affordable housing. This category includes funding for housing education and counseling.

City considers $346,670 contract for ADA sidewalk ramps

Staff is recommending 5 percent, or about $62,000, for public services, which includes projects focused on homelessness services, senior services, or alcohol and drug treatment. All projects in this category must be new and/or expanding services that benefit low to moderate income individuals.

Mayor issues apology on CDBG process; staff addresses recent HUD letter

The city also gets an allocation of HOME Investment Partnership Program funds for new construction and homeownership. The estimated $530,000 in HOME funds can be used for building, buying and/or rehabilitating affordable housing for rent or homeownership or providing direct rental assistance to low-income people.