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Community Development Block Grant Program

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About the Program

Florida's Small Cities Community Development Block Grant Program provides an opportunity for eligible municipalities and counties to compete for funds to improve housing, streets, utilities, public facilities, and downtown areas, and to create jobs for low and moderate income Floridians.  To learn more about the program, please see the following:

 

What is the Community Development Block Grant Program?

The Community Development Block Grant Program is a federal program that provides funding for housing and community development. In 1974, Congress passed the Housing and Community Development Act, Title I, and created the program. The program, administered by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, consists of two components - an entitlement program that provides funds directly to urban areas and a small cities program which funds rural community activities. The program consolidated several grants relating to housing and infrastructure which did not adequately address local needs. In 1981, the law was amended to allow states to administer the program on behalf of small local governments, or non-entitlement communities. Since then several changes have been made to the law. The most recent was incorporated into the Cranston-Gonzales Affordable Housing Act of 1990. Mandates now require that the states:

  • adhere to many of the stringent requirements imposed by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on entitlement communities;
  • target low and moderate income persons (70% of the funds must be used for activities that benefit such persons);
  • provide for citizen and public participation;
  • allow home ownership assistance as an eligible activity.

The program has five preliminary categories:

  • Housing;
  • Neighborhood Revitalization;
  • Commercial Revitalization;
  • Economic Development; and
  • Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program.

The Florida Legislature requires that each of the first four categories be allocated funding based on a percentage of the total amount received from the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Neighborhood Revitalization receives 40%, Economic Development receives 30%, Housing receives 20% and Commercial Revitalization receives 10%. These percentages are subject to change.

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What are the national objectives of the Program?

  • To principally benefit low and moderate income persons.
  • To prevent or eliminate slum or blight.
  • To address other urgent community development needs.

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How much money does Florida receive?

Florida has received between $18 and $35 million each year since 1983. The U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development distributes money to states participating in the Small Cities Community Development Block Grant program based on a formula developed by Congress. State appropriation is made annually after Congress approves a budget for the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The state is also authorized to issue approximately $160,000,000 in Section 108 Loan Guarantees for eligible activities. An eligible local government may apply for up to $7,000,000 in loan guarantees.

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Who can apply for funding?

Non-entitlement cities, or cities who opt out of an urban entitlement program, with a population less than 50,000 and counties having a population less than 200,000 are eligible to apply for Small Cities Community Development Block Grant funds.

Applications for Economic Development grants may be submitted at any time, while applications for the other three categories are submitted on an annual basis. Applicants may apply for Housing, Neighborhood or Commercial grants only if they have no open grants. Grant contracts are written for two year periods.

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Criteria for Funding An Activity

To be fundable, an activity must meet certain eligibility and national objective requirements.

  • To qualify under the Low-Moderate National Objective, at least 51% of the beneficiaries must be low and moderate income persons. The U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has defined a low and moderate income person as one whose total family income is at or below 80 percent of the area's median income.
  • Under the Slum and Blight National Objective, the area must be a slum or blighted area as defined by state or local law.
  • Activities funded under the Urgent Needs National Objective must alleviate existing conditions which pose a serious and immediate threat to those living in the area and are 18 months or less in origin. Additionally, the local government must demonstrate that it is unable to finance the activity on its own and that other funding is not available.

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Examples of Eligible Activities

Funds may be sought only for eligible activities. Examples of activities that are eligible include:

  • rehabilitation and preservation of housing;
  • water and sewer improvements;
  • street improvements;
  • economic development activities;
  • downtown revitalization;
  • parks and recreation; and
  • drainage improvements.

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What is the Community Wide Needs Score?

The Community Wide Needs Score is a numerical representation of the needs of a community based on the low and moderate income population, number of persons below the poverty level and number of housing units with more than one person per room. Community Wide Needs Scores are calculated by the Department of Community Affairs based on 1990 census data and constitute 25% of the total score.

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Important Considerations

Community Development Block Grant funding is an excellent way to obtain funds for projects that the community cannot otherwise afford and provides a means to implement projects that local governments may not have staff to complete. The program also gives the community the ability to determine which projects are most needed within the overall eligibility and scoring priorities.

When an eligible city or county desires to apply for Community Development Block Grant funds, the local government must create a Citizen Advisory Task Force and hold at least two hearings prior to submitting an application. At the public hearings, community needs and potential projects should be discussed.

The U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the state of Florida requires the communities receiving Community Development Block Grant funds to comply with a number of requirements relating to record keeping, procurement and public participation. The community must also make an effort to include minority businesses in the implementation of their grant. Other federal laws must also be complied with. For example, laws that relate to the protection of the environment, acquisition and relocation, civil rights and non-discrimination, wages and construction standards are applicable.

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