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Delays put federal block grant program under spotlight

CARLSBAD — The city’s Community Development Block Grant program will expedite its efforts to meet its 2019 goals.

Approved on Nov. 27, 2018, the CDBG is a federal program distributing funds to develop viable urban communities by providing housing, sustainable living and economic opportunities for low and moderate income earners, according to the city’s website.

The City Council approved, 3-2, to revise the membership to appoint resident representatives from the four City Council districts, in addition to the mayor appointing Housing, Planning and Senior Commissioner representatives.

Also, it approved an application process for the Citizen Advisory Committee.

The delay is a result of the council asking for Neighborhood and Housing Services to bring back options for district appointments, since the city has transitioned to district elections.

In previous years, the city appointed committee members based on the four quadrants.

However, the Citizen Participation Plan requires a 30-day noticing period, which held up the department from moving forward.

Mayor Matt Hall urged the council to hold off on the application process for one year to allow staff and committee members an appropriate amount of time to vet the applications and reports.

However, Councilwoman Barbara Hamilton said the issue lends to a more open and transparent government.

The city will release the applications on Feb. 25 with a deadline of March 6. On March 19, the council will appoint the committee members. City staff will meet with the committee members twice between March 20 and April 3.

From there, a 15-day public notice will be issued on April 26 for the final report and resident participation. On May 7, staff will unveil the funding recipients.

Courtney Pene, management analyst with Neighborhood and Housing Services, said 10 applications were received for $470,000.

“Because we have a condensed timeline, we won’t go before the council twice,” she said. “There is very little wiggle room. The only wiggle room we have is from today to March 19.”

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) annual action plan must be submitted 45 days before the final day of the fiscal year.

HUD regulations require the final report to be due by May 15, which allows Pene a week to review and ensure transmitting the requests goes through.

If the May 15 deadline is missed, Pene said potential penalties could be levied.

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