Clovis Provides Funding Plan for Community Development

Several community development projects will be receiving block grant funds from the  Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through the 2021-22 annual action plan following the Clovis City Council’s July 20 meeting.

Also adopted was the 2021-25 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) consolidated plan, a plan for using funds for the next five years.

CDBG eligible projects must qualify as a benefit to low to moderate-income (LMI) people. Projects must also meet one of three national objectives: benefiting LMI people, eliminating slum and blight, and meeting an urgent need.

Last year, CDBG funding went to senior citizens and households with an urgent renting need caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2021-22 annual action plan

In the following year, Clovis will be allocating $749,000 focusing on housing rehabilitation, microenterprise, area-based policing (code enforcement), administration, and alley reconstruction on Dennis and Mitchell Avenues, along with Dennis and Beverly Avenues.

“The goal is to really assess the needs of the entire community and then look at spots where those resources aren’t being met,” said Community and Economic Development Director Andy Haussler.

When processing and deciding which projects the city would prioritize, Clovis coordinated with city leadership and departments, reviewed past performances, and engaged in talks with the city’s stakeholders and citizens.

“We did interviews with almost 50 different individuals that represent different organizations regarding the needs in our community, as well as citizens and users of our programs,” Haussler said.

Those involved in the discussion also completed a survey listing the highest community development priorities.

On the community development list were 14 high, 10 medium, and two low priorities.

The top five priorities listed were job creation/retention, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) sidewalk improvements, street/alley improvements, homeless services/shelters, and fire stations/equipment.

Job creation/retention and street/alley improvements were listed in the upcoming year’s funding allocation, with $50,000 going toward job creation at the Clovis Culinary Center and $290,000 to alley improvements.

Code enforcement and housing rehabilitation were also high on the list. As a result, the City will be allocating nearly $137,000 to the housing efforts and $112,000 to code enforcement.

Almost $150,000 will go toward the administrative portion of the grant. Haussler said the CDBG program is administratively intense, and federal regulations allow up to 20% of the funding to be used for administrative purposes.

“We’ve traditionally come in about 12 to 14% [usage],” Haussler said. “But, we allocate that upfront in case we have the need, and then we provide those savings back into the program.”

Haussler said if any project doesn’t spend its total funding, the money would roll over and be reallocated to other projects next year. He said the City routinely finishes under regarding the administration portion of the budget.

While CDBG funding is only going toward six items, Haussler said Clovis funds many other items on the list by other means like general fund allocations, housing programs, state funds, and many more.

Five-year plan

Over the next five years, the goals laid out by the City include public facility improvements, preservation of affordable housing units, job creation for low-income individuals, creating sustainable living environments, and CDBG administration.

Clovis intends to utilize approximately $1.5 million in CDBG funds, focusing on improving its water system, sewer system, street and drainage, solid waste facilities, neighborhood facilities, and parks and recreation.

Additionally, the City will use funds to remove architectural barriers for people with disabilities and to improve public buildings to meet ADA requirements.

The city intends to utilize around $683,500 funds to provide rehabilitation services to LMI owner-occupied units regarding housing.

LMI neighborhoods will also see a rise in code enforcement, with Clovis planning to allocate around $561,500 toward this effort.

Approximately $250,000 in funds will go toward the purpose of economic development. Projects included are revitalization, business expansion, and job creation.

Councilmember Vong Mouanoutoua said this upcoming plan is better than what he has seen in years past.

“This report was remarkably better than the first one I saw five years ago,” Mouanoutoua said. “I liked how detailed it was with the outreach, review, and reaching out to who responded. And I think that was excellent.”

Councilmember Drew Bessinger was in agreement with Mouanoutoua on how well the city handles the CDBG program.

“We have a very measured response…helping good citizens who are just having a hard time closing the deal on some things,” Bessinger said.

Anthony De Leon
Anthony De Leon is a journalist who started his career in 2017, covering sports for the Fresno City College Rampage, earning his Associate Degree in the process. He then moved on to Fresno State, working for The Collegian serving as Sports Editor, Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in print journalism. In August, he will begin attending Reynold’s School of Journalism Master’s program at the University of Nevada, Reno.