City staff make CDBG funding recommendation

City staff made their recommendations to the City Commission this week for Community Development Block Grant funding priorities.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development notified the city that this year’s allocation for CDBG is $794,666. That’s up from last year’s allocation of $776,621.

The city is also receiving $273,088 in HOME funds, down slightly from last year’s $285,831 allocation.

CDBG process underway for 2019 funding cycle

The full list of CDBG allocations from HUD to communities nationwide is available here.

Of the total CDBG allocation, 20 percent, or about $158,000, goes to the city for administration of the program.

Park and Rec improvements underway, through park district, grants, CDBG funds

Another $61,000 goes into the revolving loan program and $21,000 goes into the fair housing program that the city splits cost responsibility with the Great Falls Housing Authority.

Of the remaining $554,000, staff is recommending:

  • 45 percent, or $249,000, go toward economic development;
  • 15 percent, or $83,000, go toward public services; and
  • 40 percent, or $221,000, go toward public improvements with 20 percent of that dedicated to Americans with Disabilities Act improvements.

Staff’s funding recommendation are based on the community needs survey that generated 318 responses; neighborhood council meetings; the public needs hearing; and stakeholder meetings with the Great Falls Development Authority and NeighborWorks Great Falls.

City conducting survey on CDBG funding priorities

The city is recommending $1.5 million into the HOME grant/revolving loan fund program, which includes HOME funds rolled over from past years.

City continuing tweaks to CDBG process to avoid conflicts of interest

Maria Porter, the city’s CDBG administrator, told commissioners this week that the focus within the economic development portion is increasing jobs. She said city staff met with GFDA to discuss possible strategies for how to use CDBG funding to accomplish that goal.

HUD closed case with city over CDBG conflicts of interest

The public services allocation is capped by HUD at 15 percent and rollover funds can’t be used in that category. Staff has said that those funds are for new and expanding services by community organizations that meet the goals outlined in the city’s CDBG plans and that are eligible under HUD guidelines.

Porter told commissioners that staff is using the same process as last year, with the exception of cutting the focus group that staff determined was unproductive last year.

NeighborWorks Great Falls said they would prefer to bring that focus group back and commissioners asked staff to look at options for doing so.

Porter said more marketing and awareness of the CBDG program and available funding is needed and that’s something staff is working on as they’re in the second cycle under the new process.

The commission will have to vote to approve the city’s CDBG annual action plan and the funding priorities this spring and the plan is due to HUD by June 30.