CDBG theme addresses homelessness in Carlsbad

CARLSBAD — More than half a million dollars of Community Development Block Grant funds is heading the city’s way.

On Nov. 7, the City Council approved the CDBG Funding Plan, for which the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development allocated $513,746 to Carlsbad for Fiscal Year 2018-19. Of the total, $77,061 is eligible for public service activities, $166,968 is eligible each for affordable housing opportunities and public facilities and $102,749 for program administration. Federal regulations allow the city to use 20 percent of the funds for administration costs and fair housing services.

The funds have no impact on the General Fund.

The council also voted, 3-2 to adopt a theme for the Notice of Funding Availability which will be homelessness. Councilwoman Cori Schumacher, along with Mayor Matt Hall and Councilman Keith Blackburn, said the funds are appropriate to combat the issue in the city.

“Homelessness is a concern and issue this year,” Hall said. “Organizations like Solutions for Change … are taking people off the streets and trying to put them back into productive life and part of that is providing housing for a number of years. I know there is more than one organization doing that. Those types of organizations are going at the heart of the problem.”

Applications for the CDBG program will be available on the city’s website on Nov. 15 and entities have until Dec. 15 to apply.

The Citizen Advisory Committee, a seven-person board, assists the city in application reviews and makes recommendations on which programs, projects or services to fund. There are two vacant positions on the advisory committee, the northeast quadrant and housing commission. Each term expires in June 2019.

Since the funds are limited and administrative costs high, Hall suggested doubling the amount organizations receives to $20,000 to have a greater impact. He added his reasoning is organizations with larger impacts, that reach hundreds or thousands, can do with more money and should receive greater priority for the funds.

Councilman Mark Packard cautioned the council to avoid dictating policy to the committee and ensure it remains independent. The minimum amount of funds, though, remains at $10,000 unless the committee decides otherwise.

Debbie Fountain, Carlsbad’s director of Housing and Neighborhood Services, said applications for the public service funds are typically low due to the “strings attached” from HUD.

“The discussion stepped up a bit when HUD came back to the city and said it takes about $8,000 to administer a single grant,” she said. “But if you give small amounts, it really can’t help them significantly. When we give money, we want to make sure it is having an impact. (HUD) has given information saying they would like to see the city giving larger amounts to have more impact on low-income households.”

Entities seeking CDBG funds must meet objectives including affordable housing, general social services and social services for adults and children and projects serving lower income households.

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