The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) was back before Meridian City Council last night.
The City of Meridian receives annual funding for its CDBG from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. The money is used to meet a wide range of community development needs.
To decide how the money is spent, municipal leaders must develop a consolidated five-year plan that identifies and addresses community needs. Then they will create an action plan, which is submitted annually and outlines the projects funded by the grant. It also serves as a funding request for the next year. The next step is the implementation of the project, which is then followed by a year-end report.
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Community leaders working on the project outlined concerns they would like to see addressed with CDBG.
Dawn Tolan from the West Ada School District spoke to the board about fair housing issues and used examples of homelessness she sees working in the school district.
“The issues we have with homelessness for our students is, one is a big thing, especially over the last year or two, is affordable housing,” Tolan said. “So with the current economy, it’s really hard for them to find reasonable rent or accommodation. “
HUD funding is limited in what it can cover. For example, it cannot be used to build affordable housing. But it can help improve areas where people in need live. Elizabeth McNannay of Resource Consultants, who works with the city on the CDBG plan, said examples of eligible projects are adding streetlights, rehabilitating housing, installing sidewalks or generally improving certain areas.
“There are sites scattered throughout the city and in some of these eligible areas that could be ripe for a community garden,” McNannay said. “And supporting access to public services that improve health outcomes because we know that people who have access to parks and physical activity and services do better and cost less when they have access to these elements.”
The CDBG has two competitive nominations. A request for housing, public facility and infrastructure and a request for public services such as the Boys and Girls Club.
Last year, Meridian provided funding to Jesse Tree, a temporary rental assistance group that helps families at risk of losing their homes. They also used funding from the Boys and Girls Club and the Homeowner Repair Program, which helps residents live in comfortable and safe homes.