Applications open through Feb. 26 for roughly $630,000 in HUD grants
photo by: Rochelle Valverde/Journal-World
For the next month, local organizations can apply for approximately $630,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant and HOME Investment Partnerships Program funding through the City of Lawrence.
Late last week, the city announced in a news release that it will be accepting applications for both grant programs, which are facilitated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as part of Lawrence’s 2024 Annual Action Plan — a summary of the actions and resources that will be used to address the needs and goals outlined in a broader five-year Consolidated Plan, both of which are provided to HUD. The Annual Action Plan will include projects to be undertaken during the next CDBG and HOME grant program year, which starts Aug. 1, 2024, and runs through July 31, 2025.
In Lawrence, applications are open through Feb. 26 at 5 p.m. and can be found either on the city’s website or in the Planning & Development Services office at 1 Riverfront Plaza.
For the 2024 program year, the city says it anticipates there will be approximately $150,000 in CDBG funding and approximately $480,000 in HOME funding available.
“Actual award figures from the federal government should be available in March 2024,” the release reads. “However, the final entitlement amounts may be significantly less than prior years, depending on federal budget decisions.”
As it stands, that much is already true, even considering those approximations. Last year, the city’s CDBG and HOME grant allocations combined for nearly $1.3 million alone — and more than $1.65 million when including $200,000 in reallocated funding from previous grant years and $180,000 in forecasted program revenue.
According to HUD, the Community Development Block Grant program provides annual grants on a formulaic basis to states, cities and counties to develop viable urban communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment, and by expanding economic opportunities for low- and moderate-income individuals.
In Lawrence, one type of CDBG project won’t be on the table for any new funding this grant cycle, however. There are two types of CDBG projects, public service and nonpublic service, and the city said in its release that it is only accepting applications for nonpublic service projects. “Public service activities,” as defined by HUD, can include the following areas: services for unhoused people, employment services, crime prevention and public safety, child care, health services, substance abuse services, fair housing counseling, education programs, energy conservation, services for senior citizens, welfare services, down payment assistance and more.
Instead of accepting applications for new projects of this type, Lawrence will keep the same level of public service funding allocations as what was awarded in 2023, allowing those agencies to continue their ongoing programming in the area. Per the release, that’s part of an effort to align with the city and Douglas County’s collaborative “A Place for Everyone” plan.
That should account for about $112,000 in funding for the 2024 grant year, according to the allocations approved for the previous cycle. That includes $58,900 that went to the Lawrence Community Shelter for stabilization services for guests, $50,220 to the Housing Stabilization Collaborative for emergency rent and utility assistance and $3,135 to Housing and Credit Counseling Inc. for a counseling program.
Nonpublic service projects funded as part of last year’s allocations accounted for the vast majority of CDBG funds, totaling $836,444. Just over $700,000 of that amount went to the City of Lawrence for various department projects; a list of potential projects subject to eligibility and funding availability included owner-occupied housing emergency loans, street restoration projects and neighborhood projects, among others.
The HOME Investment Partnerships Program, meanwhile, provides grants to states and localities that communities use to fund a wide range of activities, such as building, buying and rehabilitating affordable rental or homeownership housing, and providing direct rental assistance to low-income individuals. It’s also the largest federal block grant available to state and local governments that’s designed exclusively to create affordable housing for low-income households.
For the 2023 grant year, HOME program funding went to three agencies: the Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority for tenant-based rental assistance, Tenants to Homeowners to help fund its Community Housing Development Organization and Lawrence Habitat for Humanity to help fund the construction of two homes.
Those with questions about the application process or who wish to discuss a specific funding proposal can contact the city’s Housing Initiatives Division at 785-832-7700.