City to use or lose federal grant for affordable housing

Use it on time, or lose it. That’s what a federal agency has been telling the city about unspent grant money meant to help the needy.

According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, the city has failed a timeliness test four out of the last eight program years which put millions of dollars of grant money at risk.

As much as $26 million was sitting idle in city coffers. The money is part of the community development block grant program intended to go toward things like affordable housing.

The city budget director told the City Council on Thursday that it has come to terms on an agreement with HUD promising the federal government a number of fixes. The city will get grant-management software, better managed contracts and track recipients, avoid funding projects that aren’t ready to move forward quickly, and report back to the feds monthly for the near future.

To learn more about it, click here.


UPDATE: After our initial report, the city provided more details on what’s already been done to comply with the federal requirements.

1. Pre-qualification of project proposals in the Selection Process: The City utilizes a Project Selection Review Committee (Selection Committee) to select CDBG, HOME, ESG and HOPWA projects in its regular selection process. Since 2013, city staff, who had previously summarized proposals and areas of issues or concerns for the Selection Committee, have screened proposals before they are provided to the committee. Projects that do not meet minimum threshold requirements, including environmental requirements and timely project completion, are not recommended to the Selection Committee for approval. This helps the committee choose projects that meet HUD requirements, including timeliness.
2. Training for Project Selection Review Committee: The City is providing more training to the Selection Committee on subjects including CDBG program rules and regulations, timeliness requirements, risks and past problem areas, ethics and conflicts of interest.
3. Strategic funding of projects: The City revised the applications for CDBG grant funding to include a scoring system which emphasizes readiness to proceed in order to avoid selecting projects that are not ready to proceed in a timely manner.

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