City community development officials will dip into their kettle of acronym soup CDBG and CHAS and explain their recipe Thursday for neighborhood repairs and low-cost housing.
It boils down to improvements for low- and middle-income neighborhoods, including more affordable housing for small-family renters, the elderly and the homeless, says Lynn Goodell, community development director.
Goodell will discuss the Comprehensive Housing Afforability Strategy and Community Development Block Grant programs at a public hearing at 7 p.m. Thursday in the city commission meeting room of city hall, Sixth and Massachusetts.
"Basically what we want is a feel from the public on what they think of our direction and priorities," Goodell said.
THE CHAS helps identify who needs affordable housing in Lawrence and how to provide it; the CDBG program provides federal funds to repair housing for low- and middle-income residents, as well as other neighborhood improvements, such as sidewalk and street repairs.
"We'll essentially just explain what's going on and what the CHAS looks like this year and get people's comments on that," Goodell said. "We'll also take suggestions on where CDBG funds could be used next year."
The CDBG program was designed by the federal government in 1975 to help eliminate slum and blight in older city neighborhoods. It plugs the funding directly into the local governments, which have a better idea of how to spend it.
The city generally receives between $600,000 and $700,000 a year through the program, Goodell said.
ANYONE can submit a grant application for a project using CDBG funds. A 17-member advisory committee, made up mostly of Lawrence neighborhood representatives, reviews applications and sometimes submits its own projects for consideration. The Lawrence City Commission then decides which recommendations to advance to the federal government.
The 33-page Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy report identifies the housing needs of low- and middle-income residents and proposes a plan to meet those needs.
This year's edition of the strategy includes plans to apply for state grants and use CDBG funds for rehabilitation of 30 homes.
Another goal is to help pay down payments and closing costs for 30 prospective homeowners through a program set up through local lenders.
The department will record comments aired at the meeting Thursday and could make some changes to reflect the input, Goodell said.