AUBURN — The city of Auburn identified 12 areas in the community that will benefit from its 2018-2019 Community Development Block Grant funding from the federal government.
The funding, which the city has received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development since 1974, is used to fund services and projects that benefit low-to-moderate-income city residents, Senior Planner Renee Jensen said Thursday during a presentation of the CDBG Annual Action Plan to the Auburn City Council.
There are two categories of projects eligible for funding: Direct-benefit activities and area-wide activities.
Direct-benefit activities include housing assistance, domestic violence programs and programs for youth, senior citizens and the disabled. Anyone who meets a certain income criteria can benefit from these programs. Repairing sidewalks, playground renovations and neighborhood improvements qualify as area-wide activities. Only areas where more than 51 percent of residents are low-to-moderate income, according to U.S. Census data, can benefit from CDBG funding.
The largest portion of the money goes to housing-related projects, such as home repair assistance, grants for first-time home buyers and homelessness prevention. According to the projects outlined in the action plan, $952,129 will be put to use for housing.
Up to 15 percent of the city's entitlement can be spent to benefit Auburn human service organizations. A total of $120,000 will be divided among 15 agencies to fund programs for low-to-moderate-income persons. For example, the Booker T. Washington Community Center will receive $7,500 to fund its summer youth program, while the Calvary Food Pantry will be given $10,000 to purchase food.
According to the action plan, $100,000 is allocated for park and playground improvements. Saint Francis park and playground, Casey Park playground, Sherwood Street playground and the Owasco River Trail will benefit from the money. Nearly $170,000 will be used for the annual sidewalk replacement program. This year, the city intends to replace sidewalks on State Street, on Perrine Street from State Street to the railroad tracks and on Cottage and Seymour streets, both from State Street to North Street.
Approximately $76,000 is budgeted for business loans, while $143,500 will cover administrative costs associated with "the delivery of CDBG programs and funds," according to the action plan.
A public hearing was held Thursday night so residents could give their input about the city's action plan. No citizen spoke during the hearing. However, the city held a public meeting in October and a hearing in November. Jensen said the input from those meetings, along with an online survey, "really helps shape and influence our annual action plan and the projects prioritized within."
According to the online survey, cleanup of abandoned properties, substance abuse services and park and playground improvements were the top three areas where citizens would like to see the CDBG money spent.
The city council will vote to approve the action plan during next week's meeting. Then, the city must wait for HUD to approve the plan before any work can begin on the projects. Director of Planning and Development Jennifer Haines said she hopes the plan will be approved by July 1.