Public invited to give feedback on city of Springfield’s HUD grant usage which includes affordable housing funding
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Want to have a voice in Springfield’s spending of federal funding?
Well from now through May 11 you can review and comment on Springfield’s Action Plan for the coming year.
It involves what the city will do with two grants totaling around $3 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The HUD funding plays an important role in one of Springfield’s biggest needs.... affordable housing.
Copies of the plan may be obtained at any of the branches of the Springfield-Greene County Library located within the city limits of Springfield or via the City’s website. Written comments may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The City recently received its annual allocation amounts from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD). The City is being allocated $1,584,058 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding and $1,274,238 in Home Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) funding.
In all the programs that use the funding a minimum of 70% must be used for projects that principally benefit low-and-moderate-income people.
“HUD requires us to have public comment on what we’re doing,” said Bob Jones, the Springfield Planning and Development Department’s Grants Administrator. “There’s a lot of data reported through the Census Bureau that let’s us know how many people are living at the poverty level and living in housing that’s substandard. So we use that data to determine what eligible usages we can spend it on. And affordable housing has always been one of the top-ranked programs we need to develop in the city of Springfield.”
Jones showed us a brand new 1,700 square-foot home on Grant Avenue that’s one of around 400 homes and apartments the city has financed over the years in building or renovating affordable housing to help low-income families.
“The typical family for a place like this would be a mom with two-or-three kids,” Jones said. “The Arc of the Ozarks has also used some of these homes where they have two or three people they’re helping because of their disabilities.”
And with part of the HUD money coming in this next year the city hopes to add 10-12 more houses.
“But there are hundreds of families who need a house,” Jones pointed out.
The same is true of public housing where the Springfield Housing Authority has 454 units but could use over twice as many.
“About another 766,” said Springfield Housing Authority Executive Director Karena Wolfram as she laughed and shook her head at the same time.
Wolfram explained that another roadblock in making progress in the battle for more affordable housing is that market rental rates are up since the pandemic. That’s a problem since privately-owned and managed rental units also provide housing for low-income families who pay what they can afford based on their income and then use HUD vouchers to pay for the rest.
“The landlords have increased their rents so even people who are on a voucher program are having trouble finding housing because of the rent amounts,” Wolfram said. “COVID changed a lot of things. We knew construction costs and interest rates were going up. Fortunately HUD has given some relief on that but not nearly enough. We need to get the word out to our government leaders that we need increased funding for affordable housing.”
It is these challenges that continue to work against finding enough permanent housing for the homeless and low income families despite the efforts of so many organizations in the area.
But the bottom line is...
“There’s not enough government money to build a house for everyone who needs one,” Jones said.
As for the details of the affordable housing HUD grants:
Housing activities will principally serve low- and moderate-income families in the targeted area. The targeted area boundaries include an area that is generally bounded by West Bypass, Glenstone, and Interstate 44 and south to Grand Street plus Census Tract 4. HOME activities will include rental housing new construction and rehabilitation, and down-payment assistance loans. Approximately 15% of HOME funds will be used for special nonprofit (CHDO) activities for rental housing rehabilitation or new construction. A CDBG-funded homeowner rehabilitation, weatherization and emergency home repair program will be conducted in the target area by four (4) local non-profit organizations.
Some of the HUD funding also goes towards a wide range of services to help the homeless such as rent and mortgage payments, utility bills, support for victims of domestic abuse, transitional housing for homeless youth and developing education and work skills.
The plan also includes money for the following public services:
- The Harmony House Domestic Violence Sustainable Shelter project will utilize funds to provide three meals a day to individuals and families fleeing domestic violence.
- The Good Samaritan Boys’ Ranch Transitional Living Program for Youth Aging Out of Foster Care program will utilize funds allowing foster-care youth to transition from group homes to apartments.
- The Child Advocacy Center’s Forensic Interviewer program will fund the forensic interviews of children within the CDBG catchment area.
- Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri’s LifeHouse Crisis Maternity Home program will fund a 24/7 residential program for homeless pregnant women and infants/children.
- Isabel’s House, Crisis Nursery of the Ozarks Preventing Child Abuse by Supporting Families in Crisis program will provide immediate refuge to children ages birth to 12 whose families are in crisis, while also referring the parents to appropriate resources for assistance.
- The Salvation Army’s Emergency Social Services program will provide emergency assistance to individuals and families who need rent, utility, or mortgage assistance.
- The Kitchen Inc.’s Rare Breed Youth Outreach Center will engage with and help youth who are experiencing or are at risk of experiencing homelessness.
- KVC Missouri’s (Formerly Great Circle) Empowering Youth program will help serve children and youth with issues pertaining to homelessness, abuse, neglect, domestic violence, poverty, abandonment, and substance abuse.
- Ozark Food Harvest’s Weekend Backpack Program will provide at-risk children with nutritious weekend meals.
- The Betty & Bobby Allison Ozarks Counseling Center’s Mental Healthcare for Low Income Springfieldians program will provide professional counseling treatment for low-income Springfield residents who would not otherwise be able to afford to get help for their mental health issues.
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