DeKalb seeking public input on plans to spend community grant

By Scott Nicol

DeKalb is seeking public input through Sunday on how to use the expected $395,000 in funding this year from the Community Development Block Grant.

The Community Development Block Grant program, funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is a program that provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs. The program provides annual grants on a formula basis to 1,209 local governments and states, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website.

“[The Community Development Block Grant] is given to communities to support the creation and maintenance of affordable housing to address the needs of the homeless, victims of domestic violence, the frail elderly, people with disabilities and other special needs populations,” said Rehabilitation Project Specialist Joanne Rouse at a City Council meeting Monday.

In addition to the $395,000 from this year’s appropriations, DeKalb has $97,000 from the prior year totaling $492,000. The grant is in year two of a five year program ending in 2019, according to the city of DeKalb website.

“We are actively seeking comment from the community,” Rouse said. “What their feelings are regarding the use of this funding and the plans we have set forth.”

Before the proposed plan can be adopted, 30 days must be allotted for public input by the community and City Council. The 30 days began on Jan. 15 and end Sunday. The grant allocation amounts must then be approved by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Public comment may be submitted to Community Development Director Ellen Divita, according to the city of DeKalb website.

In the first year, 2015, the grant funded the Hope Haven homeless shelter and the First Street water main, street and sidewalk repairs, according to the Community Development Block Grant action plan.

DeKalb’s plan for the second year will emphasize on three main areas for funding, private property rehabilitation, public facilities and public services, Rouse said.

The final $79,000 will be used to support staff, Rouse said.

Nineteen percent of DeKalb County’s population is below poverty level, according to the city of DeKalb website.

All proposed activities budgets will be proportionally increased or decreased from the estimated funding levels to match actual allocation amounts once they have been determined, according to the city of DeKalb website.