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Thread: CDBG positions

  1. #1

    CDBG positions

    What's the job outlook for CDBG specialists? Since the money is federal pass-through, is it a stable specialization to pursue? Anyone know where to find reliable data on local, state, and federal salaries?

  2. #2
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    I work in CDBG currently. It has stabilized more under the Obama administration. During the Bush years, it was getting routinely cut or threatened to be eliminated altogether. I would now consider it pretty stable.

    A lot of folks that work in CDBG currently, at least in my region, have been at it for 20-25 years. I expect you will see a ton of retirements with the local government CDBG entitlements. Also, with the new census you may see more entitlement jurisdictions appear. Familiarize yourself with HOME and ESG as well, since those programs are often administered together. Also, learn how to apply for the state HOME and ESG funds if the local jurisdiction is not already a participating jurisdiction with a direct allocation from HUD.

    During hiring, we place a premium on those applicants that already have CDBG experience. Some of that is because of the nature of our particular program, but I think it is a rule that holds true in most places. Also, there are a number of consulting firms, at least in Texas, that specialize in administering state CDBG grants in small towns. If you want to get your foot in the door that way, I suggest pursuing firms that are operating in areas with Presidentially-declared disasters, since those areas have often received large supplemental allocations for disaster recovery (i.e. the State of Texas has received about $3 billion in CDBG-DRS funds related to hurricanes Ike and Dolly). State agencies have to staff up in those situations to administer the funds, and often contract out portions of the administration. In addition, the grant administration firms that work with small towns also have to staff up. Chasing the disaster funds is a good way to get your foot in the door. If you don't have direct CDBG experience, then you need to at least have project management experience. You can also chase the neighborhood stabilization program funds to gain experience, but I think by this point most of those positions have been filled.

    CDBG programs are notoriously understaffed, so you will be busy. Also, if you thought your local land development regulations were a pain to administer and interpret, just wait until you deal with HUD's stuff. You never know which way the wind is blowing with them, and HUD staff direction is often disconnected with publicly stated direction from HUD's political appointed staff. In large CDBG programs and especially state programs, you will have to interact with large advocacy organizations that were built using the Alinsky approach to getting things done. Many of these organizations have really lost there way and are more about political capital and getting bones tossed their way than actually advocating best practices in community development and affordable housing. But for every one of those organizations, you'll find a Community Development Corporation or other group that actually has their head screwed on straight. CDBG can be very rewarding because you actually get to see projects done and programs implemented effectively. It is quite difficult to inject long-term planning and community resiliency into CDBG programs in many cases, despite them being required to submit 3-5 year plans to HUD along with annual action plans. The quality of CDBG programs varies widely from place to place.

    In a $575,000 CDBG local government entitlement near me, the program manager makes about $50,000. She is very underpaid. In my state agency, salaries for people working directly with CDBG grants start at about $33,000 for entry and go up to about $95,000 for senior management. Directors in our agency make about $120,000. Within the disaster division the salaries are a little more inflated because the positions are tasked with 'working themselves out of a job' and lack long-term stability guarantees.
    Last edited by Suburb Repairman; 04 Mar 2010 at 11:14 AM.

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    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    I would guess that if you work for an entitlement community, the job is stable once you land it.

    My first job out of college in 1990 was 50% funded by CDBG and later, HOME. We were not an entitlement community, so ever year I was fighting for funds, and my annual audits were the make-or-break. I was good AND lucky - every year we'd shine in the audit and go back to the State asking for more money. They actually pulled money from under-performers and gave it to me.

  4. #4
    Thanks,

    I was a little skeptical when I first started as I wanted to work in transportation planning, my specialization in grad school. However, some time has passed, and I'm really enjoying the work. Thanks again Suburb Repairman and Chet for the input.

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