With all the talk and excitement surrounding the revitalization of downtown Kent, it might be easy to overlook the continued needs of those folks in Kent that are unemployed (and under-employed) who struggle to make ends meet on a daily basis.
But we won’t forget them because they are actually a big part of why we’re doing what we’re doing in downtown Kent.
The plan is to leverage economic growth in an area where we think we have the greatest opportunities (and competitive advantages) to allow us to continue to serve those areas that don’t generate revenues and have seen funding decline through the years.
Downtown redevelopment isn’t the end point, it’s the starting point that we need to support the numerous goals of the Kent community that have seen federal and state funding supplies dry up.
Kent is proud of its longstanding commitment to serve all segments of the population, especially those that need it the most, but pride only gets you so far. At the end of the day, money still makes the world go ’round — which is why economic success is so critical to everything Kent residents expect from their City government and there’s a lot more riding on downtown Kent thriving than meets the eye.
With all the election ads and debates I think it’s safe to say that there’s a fair amount of disagreement over what the Federal government should or shouldn’t be funding as it struggles with it’s own finances, and I have no intention into venturing into those turbulent waters, but it’s fair to say that the fedleral funds that the City receives to support low to moderate income household needs have not kept pace with local needs.
Over the last couple of years the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) programs have been on the federal chopping block and while it has survived, it’s not at the levels that it used to be and the City has had to get as creative as possible to stretch the reduced funding across an ever increasing spread of needs.
It’s been tough times for CDBG funding but that hasn’t diminished the City’s commitment to make it work. Here’s a summary of how those CDBG dollars were put to use in the last program year (excerpted from the City’s CAPER report).
The City of Kent is required by Title I of the National Affordable Housing Act of 1990 to submit a Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report (CAPER) to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) within 90 days of the end of its Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program year (PY). This report contains information concerning CDBG expenditures and accomplishments covering the PY2011 program period which began August 1, 2011 and extended through July 31, 2012.
The PY2011 CAPER highlights the activities undertaken during the program year and compares actual accomplishments to the goals the City set for itself in its 2010-2014 Five-Year Consolidated Plan, which was adopted in May 2010. The FY2011 program year represents the second year of the 2010-2014 Five-Year Consolidated Plan period.
The CAPER also incorporates reports downloaded from HUD’s Integrated Disbursement and Information System (IDIS) program, as required by the CAPER reporting requirements. These reports provide detailed information on funded activities, program performance, demographical information on persons assisted, and CDBG program financial data.
The City of Kent spent a total of $250,238.50 in CDBG funds during the PY2011 program period. This total expenditure includes portions of the City’s PY2011 CDBG allocation, unexpended funds from prior year allocations, and program income funding deposited into revolving loan funds (RLF). The City utilized these funds to support activities that benefitted low-to-moderate income persons residing throughout the community and provided direct assistance through available housing programs to 15 low-to-moderate income households. In total, 22,160 low-to-moderate income persons were assisted through various housing, public service, economic development and public facility improvement projects. Activities undertaken this year include:
- Two (2) houses were rehabilitated through the CDBG Owner-Occupied Rehabilitation Program.
- Thirteen (13) households were assisted through the CAC Energy Efficiency Program.
- Funding was provided to a nonprofit organization to assist with the acquisition of a site for the construction of a 4-8 unit permanent supportive housing (PSH) facility that will provide housing for extremely low income persons suffering from a severe and persistent mental illness.
- Eighteen (18) low-to-moderate income residents were provided business development training services as part of the Small Business Development Center. Tenants of the Kent Business Incubator were provided with technical assistance in various areas, including implementing a business plan, financing and how to manage operating costs.
- One Hundred Eighteen (118) homeless households, comprised of 118 persons, received shelter and essential supportive services through the emergency and domestic violence Homeless Programs.
- The City also committed and expended CDBG funds on several public facility and improvement projects during the PY2011 program period. These projects generated a city-wide benefit or benefitted low-to-moderate income persons residing in specific block groups in various areas of the City. The City expended a total of $67,864.83 of its CDBG funding in PY2011 to support two (2) public facility and improvement projects. The two projects include the commitment of $90,000.00, of which $47,194.86 was expended, to assist with the costs associated with the full depth reconstruction of Pine Street, which is a residential street located in an area of the community that has a high concentration of low income households. An additional $20,510.97 in CDBG funding was used to assist with the costs associated with the replacement of deteriorated portions of the Redmond Bridge. The bridge extends over a narrow portion of theCuyahogaRiver and acts as the only access point to the City’sKramerPark baseball fields. The wood pilings supporting the bridge are rotted from decades of exposure to water and need to be replaced.
- The City continued using a portion of its annual CDBG allocation to support the Community Policing Program. A total of $23,000.00 in PY2011 CDBG funding was committed to support this important program and of that amount, $17,216.82 was expended during the 2011 program year. This program is implemented in various neighborhoods in the City that have increased levels of reported disturbances and criminal activity. It is estimated that approximately 11,080 low income residents benefitted from the program.
In summary, PY2011 CDBG expenditures were allocated to the following funding categories:
- Public Facilities and Improvements (27.12%)
- Housing (35.6%)
- Economic Development (11.41%)
- Public Services (12.87%)
- Grant Administration, including Fair Housing Services (13%)