By Stephanie Meador, posted Mar 16, 2023 on BizFayetteville.com
Fayetteville’s Economic & Community Development Department recently conducted four public meetings at various locations throughout the city to compile resident feedback on the Annual HUD Grant Action Plan.
Resident insight and input will assist with designing the programs and services offered with the Community Development Block Grant funds that the City will receive on behalf of low and moderate-income residents.
In addition to CDBG funds, the plan also describes how the City intends to use HOME Investment Partnership and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS funds for the 2023 program year. Input will be compiled and submitted to the Fayetteville Redevelopment Commission, the Fayetteville City Council, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
These grants total up to over $3 million received on an annual basis.
“It’s a really good opportunity to educate the public on these really cool programs that our department oversees,” shared Economic & Community Development Director Chris Cauley when asked about the benefit of these public meetings.
The process to alert people to these funding opportunities began in November with a series of stakeholder meetings and efforts to engage nonprofits and teach them how to apply for the grants. Grant applications were then opened mid-November and remained open until the end of January.
Once the application window is closed, Cauley explained that Economic & Community Development Department staff evaluate the applications based on their understanding of the City Council’s goals and the merits of the application, and how well the organization applying fits the grant criteria. Then it comes time to sit down and divvy up the estimated funds to as many nonprofits as possible.
“Now the funding for nonprofits is kind of limited even though we talked about that big, big number of almost three and a half million dollars,” stated Cauley. “The grants we give out to nonprofits are only about $250,000, and that’s due to HUD rules. So a lot of that money goes for social services and to help with job training things, kind of what we think of as soft costs. And then the rest of the money goes into really physical improvements. And so we fund some partner agencies like Fayetteville Urban Ministry and Habitat to help low income homeowners with repairs to their roof or their heating and air system or plumbing. And then we also fund small business programs to help businesses that are looking to grow and hire people.”
As they reevaluate their plan each year, there is plenty of room for growth and improvement.
“We have some pretty cool new things this year. One is I’m training one of our team members now to work with nonprofits on capacity building, so that we can build stronger nonprofits in our community. And so he’ll kind of lead nonprofits and boards through how to have a stronger board of directors and how to raise money and financial reporting requirements and all the legal stuff that goes into being a nonprofit because we’ve got a lot of really well intended, good hearted folks out there that don’t necessarily have the business and technical skills to be successful, and so we’re going to invest money in trying to get them those resources,” added Cauley.
The 2023-2024 Annual Action Plan can be viewed online on the City of Fayetteville’s website www. fayettevillenc.gov on the Economic & Community Development page under the “What’s Happening” tab.
Residents that did not have the opportunity to attend a public meeting can submit written comments to EconCommDev@FayettevilleNC. gov until March 19.
After the window for public comments has passed, Cauley shared that all of the collected information then gets gathered up and it goes to the citizen advisory board, which is called the Fayetteville Redevelopment Commission.
After this, the third step is to go to the City Council and have a public hearing. This three stage process allows for ample time for feedback and revisions to shape the plan.
“HUD wants to make sure that the community has an educated opinion about what we’re doing and also that they be involved and informed about how we’re spending these monies to better the community,” shared Cauley.
In addition to these plans, Cauley shared that there are additional courses of action being proposed to use other funding to increase affordable housing options in particular.
“The voters passed a $12 million housing bond. And so on top of that, 12 million that we now have available, we also have about $4 million from the American Rescue Plan, another seven or $8 million in federal grants and then some state money, and it totals up to about $25 million that we have available right now. And so, what I'm currently doing is, our team is meeting with nonprofits and for profit developers and folks who, build affordable housing, whether they are building single family or apartment complexes, and we’re talking to them about how they can partner with the city and what the city is able to do with those funds.”
“We’re really looking at doing more of that repair and rehab to try to keep people in their homes longer, and to increase our housing quality across the community, and then build new apartments and build new single family homes for first time homebuyers. And then we're also working to do like down payment assistance.”
“I think about what I really enjoy about Fayetteville and there’s a lot of really nice restaurants and I really love the arts and going to the theater and anything. A lot of folks in those jobs, they contribute to the character of the community, but they don't make a ton of money. And they need to live in the community that they work in,” said Cauley.
With that dilemma in mind, Cauley explained the thinking behind some of the proposed plans of action that aim to enable community members to afford to live in the place they contribute so much to.
“When we look at, how can a couple making $35,000 each a year with a kid be able to afford their first house and we're able to put down payment assistance programs in place where they've still got to go get a loan from a bank, but we can help give them a loan for down payment assistance for up to $20,000 so that they can buy their first home,” explained Cauley.
“Those are really cool programs that help the community out overall because those homeowners become more stable, they’ve become more financially secure. And so we’re looking at a lot of programs like that, but homeownership is not for everybody either. And so we really need to subsidize apartment complexes so that they can charge lower rents because rent keeps increasing more and more and more each year,” added Cauley.
It’s always reassuring to know that people in charge have the best interest of community members in mind. The development and implementation of these programs is sure to make Fayetteville an even greater place to live and do business.
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