City Council to vote on CDBG plan

The Santa Clarita community presents California legislators with a "Thank You" certificate on April 2. Crystal Duan/The Signal

Santa Clarita City Council plans to approve the Community Development Block Grants Annual Action Plan at its May 8 meeting.

The annual plan allocates thousands of federal dollars that pay for Santa Clarita’s public services, infrastructure improvements and programs to help low-income residents.

The current plan is on its second public hearing and, if approved, would go on to federal authorities at the Department of Housing and Urban Development for the official disbursements.

This year, the HUD has dictated the total amount of CDBG funds available for the city of Santa Clarita in 2018-19 is $1,177,714, based on funds available and money saved from previous years. The CDBG allocations for the next fiscal year, starting July 1, will be released later than usual, according to city documents.

The city identified 77 local nonprofits as eligible to receive funding, with 15 grant applications from those nonprofits sent in and 11 approved.

In accordance with the plan up for approval, the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center would receive an estimated amount of $54,000 and Bridge to Home would receive $53,750. Other organizations that would receive funding include the Boys and Girls Club, Family Promise, Carousel Ranch and Fostering Youth Independence, among others, for a total of $166,200 among nonprofits.

Each application was scored by a team of five city staff that discuss the needs in the community, said Erin Lay, the city’s Housing Program Administrator.

“We get out every dime we can to these programs,” she said.

Capital projects such as the Senior Center’s Handyworker Program and the Canyon Country Inclusion Playground total at $789,772, while administrative costs for personnel and fair housing services total $221,742.

President Donald Trump’s proposed federal budget for the fiscal year 2018 originally would have stripped all funding for the CDBG program. In September 2017, Congressman Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, along with California senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, supported a spending package that retained the CDBG program from being cut by President Donald Trump’s official budget, increasing funding for the program by $100 million.

Because of changes in Washington, the final allocations haven’t been determined, Lay said. For now, the city is going off the numbers it’s received in previous years.

The city has used about $1 million in program funds annually to help low-income families and various other programs for over 20 years, Mayor Laurene Weste said at an April 2 conference.

Allocations to each city are usually based on factors such as how old the homes in an area are, and city demographics, Lay said.

Disabled accessibility projects in Santa Clarita received over $55,000 during the 2016-17 fiscal year. Housing rehabilitation programs have also received over $1.6 million over the last five years to keep low- and moderate-income homeowners’ houses in good shape.

Nonprofits received $173,510 in the 2016-17 fiscal year and have received over $800,000 in the last five years.

The Newhall Community Center, constructed in 2004, also received over $1.1 million in funds through the CDBG program.

Federally, CDBG grants are proposed to be funded at $3.24 billion, $235 million (7.8 percent) more than the fiscal year 2017.

If approved by the city and HUD, the funds for the Santa Clarita programs would begin disbursement in July 1.

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