Community block grants distribute $650K in Naperville

<p>File Photo</p>
File Photo

Naperville’s administration of federal funds through the Community Development Block Grant program is back on track.

The City Council last week accepted the 2013 Consolidated Annual Performance Evaluation Report, a required yearly assessment of the city’s use of the grant money it distributes on behalf of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The program is designed to help provide affordable housing; create jobs and expand business opportunities; and furnish services to low-income families and others considered particularly at risk for economic hardship.

For program year 2013, the city provided $383,878 in CDBG funds for rehabilitation of a dozen rental properties in the city. In addition to affordable housing, the funds address the needs of the homeless population, which were allocated $287,924. Six of the seven designated projects in that category were completed, taking up $170,191 of the sum, and the last one is still in progress.

“Those projects include supportive services in providing shelter for homeless as well as supportive services in the permanent and transitional housing for people who suffer from homelessness,” according to a portion of the CAPER reports.

Because of reporting deadlines, construction delays and other variables, not all of the money provided to the city for the program is documented as spent in the annual assessment. For 2013, a total of $1,130,835 was available, but just $650,062 was expended. In the homeless area, $100,000 remains unspent from 2013.

“Most of those projects get completed within two to three months of the new program year and are reported as expenditure in the following year,” said Anna Straczek, the city’s grants coordinator, in an email.

Also under the CDBG umbrella in Naperville is the installation of sanitary sewer backflow prevention devices, one of the remedies designed to prevent a repeat of the sewage-filled basements reported in the April 2013 floods. Those who qualify can receive reimbursement from city coffers for up to 75 percent of the cost of the devices, and CDBG funds are available to help cover the other 25 percent of the expense for those eligible to receive it.

The total available funds for 2013 included $128,065 in reprogrammed dollars stemming from a HUD audit three years ago that found the city was not in compliance with federal guidelines for distribution of the funds. The city — which had two key vacancies in the grants office at that time that have since been filled — is required to return the funds by allocating $384,195 to eligible projects, dividing the sum over three program years.

Including the reprogrammed money and funds not expected to be spent in the coming year, the sum available for next year will be $829,341, which includes the federal entitlement of $400,276. The federal funds allocated to local governmental agencies are based on barometers of local need such as poverty rates, population, housing age and overcrowding.

The 2014 funds are expected to help about 11,409 low- to moderate-income people in Naperville, according to the action plan for the upcoming program year. Of that group, almost 54 percent live in households earning less than 30 percent of the median income for the community.

Applications for portions of the grant money are accepted through September each year. More information can be found at www.naperville.il.us/cdbg.aspx.

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