By Tammy Murga
Signal Staff Writer
Santa Clarita residents have the opportunity once again to weigh in on the city’s priorities as it prepares a new five-year housing and community needs strategic plan.
As in previous years, the city has made available surveys for public input to identify high- and low-priority issues, ultimately guiding city leaders to best use federal funding.
“We’re getting ready to set new priorities,” said Erin Lay, Housing Program administrator for Santa Clarita.
Santa Clarita receives Community Development Block Grant funding every year from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to benefit lower-income communities. More specifically, these funds are supposed to go toward housing, infrastructure and public services.
While the purpose of the survey is to find out what the public believes should be at the top of the city’s list, Lay said she already has an idea of what residents may have to say.
“Based on what we have heard in the news and across the state of California, I assume we will hear about affordable housing and homelessness,” she said.
According to Santa Clarita’s 2018 Annual Action Plan, priorities for the previous strategic plan, known as the Consolidated Plan (2014-2018), included the ongoing issue of affordable housing. Infrastructure improvement and expansion, equal housing opportunities and providing supportive human services were also on the list.
Lay added that participants could expect to see several questions about fair housing to help the city create another plan required by HUD, titled the Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice. The plan should highlight what hinders residents from having fair housing options.
“You’ve heard of the concept of redlining (denying services to certain residents, often due to race),” said Lay. The HUD-required plan “looks at what’s going on statistically, where people are moving and if there are impediments.”
In its current year, Santa Clarita received $1.21 million in grant funds, as stated in the Annual Action Plan. Typically, Lay said, grants range around $1.1 million and a similar amount is expected for the coming 2019-2020 period.
These federal dollars were threatened to disappear after President Donald Trump proposed his 2018 fiscal year federal budget. But in September 2017, Rep. Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, was part of a congressional effort to retain the Community Development Block Grant program, securing the money for cities like Santa Clarita.
Now in the last year of the Consolidated Plan, public services, such as the Senior Center and the Boys & Girls Club, received $181,839.
Before knowing how figures will play out for the following term, the Housing and Community Development Needs Survey will be available in both English and Spanish through Sept. 30 at santa-clarita.com/Housing.
For more information on the survey or the Community Development Block Grant program, contact Lay at 661-286-4174.