Archive for Monday, May 20, 2013

City expecting 5 percent reduction in Community Development Block Grant funding

May 20, 2013


From billions of dollars in defense spending to hundreds of dollars in neighborhood newsletter expenses: You never know where the federal budget cut known as sequestration will rear its head.

Lawrence city commissioners on Tuesday are set to approve a new budget for the city's Community Development Block Grant program — which funds everything from home rehabilitation to neighborhood newsletters — that is 5 percent less than a year ago, in part anticipating sequestration cuts.

“It has been a tougher process this year,” said Danelle Dresslar, community development manager for the city. “We still don’t have the final numbers yet on how much federal funding we’ll receive.”

City officials, however, are estimating funding for the program will drop to about $1.14 million, down from about $1.2 million a year ago.

The city’s Community Development Advisory Committee is recommending the funding shortfall be made up largely through reduced funding for Lawrence neighborhood associations, fewer neighborhood capital improvement projects, and a reduction in an affordable housing program for homebuyers.

The group, however, is recommending that funding be boosted for a city-run program that helps rehabilitate low-income housing, as well as for a program that provides tenant-based rental assistance.

Here’s a look at some of the funding recommendations city commissioners will consider at their Tuesday evening meeting:

• Operational funds for the city’s five federally designated low-to-moderate income neighborhoods — Brook Creek, East Lawrence, North Lawrence, Oread and Pinckney — will drop to about $23,400, down from about $32,500 a year ago. The funding is used to pay neighborhood coordinators, to print neighborhood newsletters and other such expenses. The Oread Neighborhood Association will receive the largest cut, dropping to about $3,500 compared to about $8,000 a year ago.

• Operating funds for the Lawrence Community Shelter will drop to $45,000 compared to about $52,000 a year earlier.

• Lawrence-based Tenants to Homeowners, which builds below-market-rate housing for homeowners who have qualifying incomes, will see its funding drop to about $75,000, from about $94,000 a year ago.

• Funding will increase for the city’s comprehensive housing rehabilitation program, which makes repairs to qualifying low-income homes that have problems — everything from electrical to roofing — that could make the home unlivable. Funding will increase to about $333,000, up from about $244,000 a year ago. Dresslar said demand for the program has been high. She said 41 homes applied for assistance during the last two-month application period.

• A rental assistance program run by the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority will have its funding boosted to about $173,000, up from about $155,000 a year ago.

• The commitee proposed to fund fewer capital improvement projects for neighborhoods through the program. Last year the city provided funding for about $100,000 in sidewalk, crosswalk, stormwater and other neighborhood-oriented capital improvement programs. This year, the city is proposing just $40,000 for a project to add a signalized crosswalk near 10th and Connecticut streets in East Lawrence. The crosswalk is on a route to nearby New York Elementary School.

• The advisory committee is recommending $25,000 in funding for a refrigerated food truck for Just Food, the Douglas County-based food bank. Just Food would use the truck to pick up donated meat, produce and dairy items from area grocery and convenience stores. The organization is run by Lawrence City Commissioner Jeremy Farmer. He has said he’ll abstain from voting on the funding request because of a conflict of interest.

Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. on Tuesday at City Hall.


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