For the past 30 years, the All-America City of Pharr has used its Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Entitlement funds to provide housing programs, streets and drainage reconstruction, parks, commercial buildings, and public services to assist low and moderate income residents, as well as address deteriorated conditions in the City through a demolition of abandoned structures program. In accordance with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regulations, all activities supported with CDBG resources must directly benefit low and moderate income persons or eliminate slum and blight.
The fiscal year for the program is from October 1 to September 30. The Grants Management & Community Development Department (GMCD) is responsible for the planning and oversight of the City’s $1.2 million CDBG Entitlement grant program. The GMCD provides technical assistance, financial and program management analysis to sub-grantees, project sponsors and other City departments, and is responsible for monitoring all project activities to ensure compliance with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development regulatory and policy requirements.
What is CDBG?
CDBG stands for Community Development Block Grant. Through the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, local governments with populations of 50,000 or more become eligible for funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to implement a wide range of programs and projects dealing with neighborhood improvements and city services. In order to receive the funds under the CDBG Program, the City must submit to HUD a One Year Action Plan identifying the proposed utilization of the funds, performance measurements and the proposed beneficiary outcomes. The City submitted a Consolidated Plan & Strategy with its Action Plan 2013 which assesses, identifies, and predicts the trend of the Pharr residents needs and demands for the next five years. In addition, the City must comply with Federal laws concerning civil rights, payment of wages, environmental review, monitoring requirements, fair housing and other programmatic regulations. Most importantly, all funded activities must meet at least three national objectives which are: elimination of slum or blight and/or benefit of low-income families or persons and/or be of urgent need.
Title 1 of the Housing and Community Act of 1974 as amended, authorizes the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to improve and enhance the quality of life for the citizens of Pharr, with emphasis on low and moderate-income persons residing in targeted areas of the city.
Program Objectives must provide for the:
- Promotion of diversity and vitality of neighborhoods
- Elimination of slums and blight, and deterioration of community facilities
- Elimination of conditions detrimental to health, safety, and public welfare
- Enhancing, improving and expansion of the housing stock
- Reduction of income group isolation within communities
- Enhancing economic development opportunities, principally to low-income individuals
Census Tracts and Income
The U.S. Census Bureau has divided the nation into census tracts for statistical tabulation purposes. The City of Pharr has been divided into 7 tracts. Tracts of enumeration are generally designed to be relatively uniform with respect to population count and/or number of households. Census tracts are further divided into block groups for other statistical purposes. In order for a block group within a census tract to be eligible for CDBG target area designation, at least 51% of its population must have a median income at or below 80% of Hidalgo County median income. The City utilizes the most recent 2010 census data.
The citizens of Pharr are urged to identify problems that exist on a neighborhood scale by participating at scheduled public meetings and hearings during the Action Plan process, thus further expressing their needs and demands. The City Commission appoints 11 citizens to the Community Development Council (CDC). A Public Workshop is held allowing the agencies that submitted a Request for CDBG Funds applications to present their activity and the proposed use of the funds. Then after the CDC makes their recommendations, which are then presented to the City Commission and subsequently, it is the City Commission that approves the City’s Action Plan.
Environmental Policies and Review
The City is required to determine the impact of its community development projects or activities on environmental quality. Where applicable, multiple criteria including policies and various governmental regulations must be considered during the production of the Environmental Review Record, which is submitted to HUD with the One Year Action Plan in what is referred to as the Request for Release of Funds.
Upon notification of funding approval, project coordinators must make arrangements to begin their projects as soon as the City receives approval from HUD to disperse funds. Any proposed project not scheduled to begin during that upcoming fiscal year will not be considered for funding. The reason for this is that HUD monitors the City as the City monitors the fund recipients. If at the end of the grant year a City subgrantee or City project has not begun spending their allocated funds, the City’s funds/expenditure ratio may be affected. HUD imposes this ratio and if the City is not in compliance with this measure, future CDBG funds can be at-risk of being de-obligated or reduced.
General Requirements for CDBG Projects
- CDBG projects must be located within the low income areas of the City of Pharr
- Prospects should clearly indicate under which category the project should be funded
- Projects may be funded either in whole or in part
- Services may be funded based on negotiated unit cost to provide the service