Fort Smith group makes final recommendations on 2017 CDBG/HOME funds

by Aric Mitchell ([email protected]) 304 views 

The Fort Smith Community Development Advisory Council (CDAC) finalized recommendations on $668,943 in grant funding at Thursday night’s (March 2) marathon deliberation from the Creekmore Community Center.

The five-member panel convened for over two hours to make final deliberations after over two additional hours of public hearings earlier in the day.

Funds were divvied up to area nonprofits from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program in the amount of $391,458 with the remaining $277,485 coming from the HOME Investment Partnerships Program.

CDBG is a flexible program that provides communities with resources to address a wide range of community development needs. Started in 1974, the CDBG program is one of the longest continuously run programs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The CDBG program provides annual grants on a formula basis to 1,209 general units of local government and States.

Annual appropriations are allocated between states and local jurisdictions called “non-entitlement” and “entitlement” communities, respectively. Entitlement communities are comprised of central cities of Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs); metropolitan cities with populations of at least 50,000; and qualified urban counties with a population of 200,000 or more (excluding the populations of entitlement cities). States distribute CDBG funds to non-entitlement localities not qualified as entitlement communities, while HUD determines the amount of each grant by using a formula comprised of several measures of community need, including the extent of poverty, population, housing overcrowding, age of housing, and population growth lag in relationship to other metropolitan areas.

Fort Smith organizations receiving funds in 2017 include the Crisis Intervention Center and RSVP facilities, which received $20,000 apiece. RSVP’s funding is to be split evenly between its Medicare and Tax Preparation assistance programs. Next Step’s case management program received $18,000, while its traditional housing program – intended to fund two homes that will support area homeless families – was awarded an additional $173,818.

Other notable awards include the Children’s Emergency Shelter ($49,583 for flooring, $19,000 for fencing); the Community Dental Clinic ($15,000); the Good Samaritan Clinic ($11,000); Girls Inc. ($6,000); Fountain of Youth Adult Daycare ($5,184); River View Hope Campus ($10,000); Bost ($16,845); and Harbor House-Gateway ($10,000 for mattresses, 17,028 for fencing).

The HOME Program provides formula grants to states and localities which communities use – often in partnership with local nonprofit groups – to fund a wide range of activities including building, buying, and/or rehabilitating affordable housing for rent or homeownership or providing direct rental assistance to low-income people. HOME is the largest federal block grant to state and local governments designed exclusively to create affordable housing for low-income households. The $277,485 in Fort Smith’s case will go toward the building of six affordable housing units on the north side of town.

All of the above recommendations are just that for now. CDAC will bring these numbers to the Fort Smith Board of Directors for a study session on March 28. The Board will likely place the recommendations up for a final vote at its April 4 regular meeting.