Carlsbad’s low-income grants in high demand

CARLSBAD — On Tuesday night the City Council heard an update on the housing and community development needs of lower income households.

For the past seven years, the Housing and Neighborhood Services department received a high performance ranking with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD.

While the department has received high rankings, it is also not able to accommodate any more people on the waiting list for Section 8 assistance.

Section 8 gives low-income people the chance to use federal funds toward rent.

Bobbi Nunn, Carlsbad housing program manager, said the waiting list has been closed since 2005, because it overwhelmed the department.

Currently, more than 500 applicants are on the waiting list and the average wait time it between seven and 12 years.

Nunn told the council that a neighboring city that recently opened their waiting list was flooded with more than 70,000 applications.

People that qualify for Section 8 make less than 30 percent of the median income in the city and don’t qualify if they make more than 50 percent.

Nunn said she has seen success stories come out of the program.

“We have some families that have been able to seize the opportunity of having rental assistance and continue their education. Some of them are having to finish their high school equivalent, many of them go on to college and we’ve had some that even went on to get their master’s degree,” Nunn said.

People stop receiving Section 8 funding after they’ve been able to support their family for six months.

The city department calculates the needed income that makes them ineligible for the grants.

Priority is given to people who live and work in Carlsbad and veterans.

There is no limit to the amount of time people can receive the grants.

When the waiting list does reopen, the Housing and Neighborhood Services department will make it public, as required by law.

“It’s clearly a huge task. There’s such an imbalance between the need and the supply so it’s not easy,” said Councilman Michael Schumacher.

The council also received a report on the status of the Community Development Block Grants, which help serve the needs of lower income residents.

The city plans to give out close to $77,000 to eight organizations, which offer public services.

Some of the grant recipients include Brother Benno, the Community Resource Center, Interfaith, Meals on Wheels, The Angel’s Depot and the YMCA.

Meals on Wheels Volunteer Cheryl Crawford told the council the grant goes towards providing seniors with two healthy meals a day, who aren’t able to make it to the grocery store.

“They’re able to stay in their home,” Crawford said.

The Angel’s Depot also provides food to low-income seniors.

Founder Susan Hall said they make emergency meal boxes for seniors to pick up.

They’re strategically planned so the senior has food in between social security checks.

Since 2005, they’ve donated more than 28,000 pounds of food, Susan Hall told the council.

The department recommended the majority of the organizations should receive about $8,000 and Management Analyst with the city Courtney Enriquez, said they were told by HUD to give larger sums to fewer organizations in order to make a bigger impact.

The grants will be finalized at a May 5 council meeting.

Mayor Matt Hall also directed staff to consider grants under $7,500, because it costs that much to administer the grant.

“When we look at grants that are less than $7,500, it’s more to administrate it than what they’re actually getting,” Hall said.

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