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Thread: The CDBG entitlement community thread

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    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    The CDBG entitlement community thread

    this is a place to talk about the the pains and the greatness of receiving CDBG entitlement funds for your community and to ask questions to help each other

    I am working at an entitlement community and am currently awaiting applicaitons for our outlay to take to a committee - this is my first year doing this so any free advice is welcomed

  2. #2
    Moderator note:
    Title edited to be clear the thread is about "CDBG" entitlements.


    Wait till someone has an idea of using CDBG to do something in a floodplain. The simple, 17-step environmental review process is really, really enjoyable!
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
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    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    I just did a floodplain permit for a museum restoration - facade and windows only, no change to footprint and yeah, it was a 45 day process!

    I do understand that it is not good planning policy to put federal dollars to construction in the floodplain except for a very good reason -but a historic building in the floodplain that somehow magically never flooded over the last 150 years is a little different (actually on that one, I am changing the flood maps becasue it hasn't ever flooded and a surveyor has completed the analysis)

  4. #4
    Quote Originally posted by luckless pedestrian View post
    I just did a floodplain permit for a museum restoration - facade and windows only, no change to footprint and yeah, it was a 45 day process!

    I do understand that it is not good planning policy to put federal dollars to construction in the floodplain except for a very good reason -but a historic building in the floodplain that somehow magically never flooded over the last 150 years is a little different (actually on that one, I am changing the flood maps becasue it hasn't ever flooded and a surveyor has completed the analysis)
    Oh, good, then you enjoyed the historic preservation Section 106 process and finding of No Adverse Effect with the SHPO, and all that good fun stuff.
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
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    Warren Spahn

  5. #5
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker View post
    Oh, good, then you enjoyed the historic preservation Section 106 process and finding of No Adverse Effect with the SHPO, and all that good fun stuff.
    yes the museum board had to decide between restoration or rehabilitation and doesn't want to decide!

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    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    I sit on my city's Housing and Human Services board where we allocate the funds to the various non profits and city agencies. The board reviews the CDBG, city generaal funds, NSP and other givings and grants the city does to the non profit community. There has been such demand that we have created subcommittees to review the grants. I lucked out and got only 14 of the 50 that were submitted.

    LP, thank you for creating this thread. Now have another place to ask my "is this an eligible project" questions.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

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    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    CDBG is getting choked to death by increasingly strigent federal regulations and processes. The whole idea was to unleash the funds to do good in lower income communities. Instead you have to spend so much of it on process, and the choices of what you can use it for are increasingly limited. It's still a great program, but between lower entitlements and higher requirements for process, its a wonder anything gets done.

    Ideally the program would be amended and restated to almost be a new program. However, if you open that can of worms there is a chance that the whole thing would get eliminated in the name of budget cuts.

    As a counterpoint, I think of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program (EECBG) that exists on paper and got one round of funding as part of ARRA. Since the whole thing was so new to the Department of Energy, they let communities use the funds for what the legislative intents of the funds were. As as result, lots of different and interesting things happened with the program, and less was spent on administration.

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    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I once took on the CDBG wage compliance monitoring. After that I instructed the public works staff to build that into the RFQ for the engineering firm to do as part of their scope of work.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

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    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    yes administrating a 24,00 job is the same as a 2.4 million job for sure -

  10. #10
    Do you have to do IDIS or does someone else do it?
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
    "Once he timed your fastball, your infielders were in jeopardy."
    Warren Spahn

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    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Nope - my county HUD dude does that

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    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Masswich View post
    CDBG is getting choked to death by increasingly strigent federal regulations and processes. The whole idea was to unleash the funds to do good in lower income communities. Instead you have to spend so much of it on process, and the choices of what you can use it for are increasingly limited. It's still a great program, but between lower entitlements and higher requirements for process, its a wonder anything gets done.

    Ideally the program would be amended and restated to almost be a new program. However, if you open that can of worms there is a chance that the whole thing would get eliminated in the name of budget cuts.
    I agree, especially about the red tape aspect. There's also a lot of questionable non-profits that seem to pop out of the woodwork and chase CDBG dollars. Often times the money ends up being doled out to the most politically connected as opposed to those that need it most. I worked in a city where I don't think there was much net public benefit from the CDGB money, with all the wasteful projects it was spent on.

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    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Wow - I get a lot of oversight (black helicopter style) from the county on all of my projects so maybe it's different for us rural community folks...

  14. #14
    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    There's also a lot of questionable non-profits that seem to pop out of the woodwork and chase CDBG dollars. Often times the money ends up being doled out to the most politically connected as opposed to those that need it most. I worked in a city where I don't think there was much net public benefit from the CDGB money, with all the wasteful projects it was spent on.
    That's sad, especially in communities were there is real need.
    The content contrarian

  15. #15
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Does anyone put together a committee to review the applications? What type of folks are on it?

  16. #16
    Question to the folks working in CDBG, what value would you place on AICP credentials?
    The content contrarian

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    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Masswich View post
    CDBG is getting choked to death by increasingly strigent federal regulations and processes. The whole idea was to unleash the funds to do good in lower income communities. Instead you have to spend so much of it on process, and the choices of what you can use it for are increasingly limited. It's still a great program, but between lower entitlements and higher requirements for process, its a wonder anything gets done.

    Ideally the program would be amended and restated to almost be a new program. However, if you open that can of worms there is a chance that the whole thing would get eliminated in the name of budget cuts.

    As a counterpoint, I think of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program (EECBG) that exists on paper and got one round of funding as part of ARRA. Since the whole thing was so new to the Department of Energy, they let communities use the funds for what the legislative intents of the funds were. As as result, lots of different and interesting things happened with the program, and less was spent on administration.
    As a recipient, I find CDBG one of the most onerous and burdensome funding sources I have inherited in my portfolio. It does not help that the city is not particularly useful or helpful in explaining what is required as far as prevailing wage calculation and requirements are.

    No offense to Misters Davis & Bacon, but on a $60K CDBG grant that will employee approximately 5 subcontractors I have to pay a simple laborer $52.42 an hour. A skilled trade like a carpenter or electrician gets paid $75.66 an hour. You do the math and see what that buys me. My scope of work is automatically reduced to 1/5 of what it would be otherwise. Prevailing wage also does not endear me to many subcontractors because paying someone $52/hour for something they ordinarily get paid $12-$15 an hour for makes that worker no longer want to work at the ordinary rate. A $100,000 scope of work paying non-prevailing wage ends up being a $350,000 job....PURE MADNESS.

    If the powers that be really wanted to see impact they would ditch this requirement or tie it to minority/economically disadvantaged employment quotas which is what our city does for non-prevailing wage funding.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by luckless pedestrian View post
    Does anyone put together a committee to review the applications? What type of folks are on it?
    I sit on such a public body in the community that I live in. It is a suburb entitlement community. The city has a housing and community services committee that reviews all of the cdbg, nsp, home and general fund requests. The body is appointed of community residences. During allocation (which we are going through now) we divide the committee into subcommittees. Each review a grant area outlined in the consolidated plan (housing, youth, special populations and one other that I cannot recall.) Each area has a percentage of funding from the overall amount. From the subcommittees the committee as a whole recommends to the council how the funding should be dispersed. This process is heavily supported by staff. Every year staff has refined the process based on committee member feedback and agency feedback. The neighborhood services director is an amazing professional and she gets a ton out of her staff.

    It gives a public face to the process and has greatly reduced the complaints from the agencies on the arbitrary nature of funding. As a HHSC committee member and subcommittee chair it is a ton of work. We review 14-25 grants and make funding recommendations. Each application is 25-40 pages. From January to March I spend 30+ hours of volunteer time on the process. In 4 years on the committee the council has only changed the recommendation once.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  19. #19
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Interviewed for a PD job in metro deep south. Asked the mayor about CDBG. He told me they give the program to the local NAACP.

  20. #20
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mike gurnee View post
    Interviewed for a PD job in metro deep south. Asked the mayor about CDBG. He told me they give the program to the local NAACP.
    even the bricks and mortar funds?

    I can only give 20k as part of this year's 160k kitty I get - 35k goes towards my salary (a bone of contention with me) and the rest has to be stuff

    I am assembling my committe and no one wants to be on it

  21. #21
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by kjel View post
    As a recipient, I find CDBG one of the most onerous and burdensome funding sources I have inherited in my portfolio. It does not help that the city is not particularly useful or helpful in explaining what is required as far as prevailing wage calculation and requirements are.

    No offense to Misters Davis & Bacon, but on a $60K CDBG grant that will employee approximately 5 subcontractors I have to pay a simple laborer $52.42 an hour. A skilled trade like a carpenter or electrician gets paid $75.66 an hour. You do the math and see what that buys me. My scope of work is automatically reduced to 1/5 of what it would be otherwise. Prevailing wage also does not endear me to many subcontractors because paying someone $52/hour for something they ordinarily get paid $12-$15 an hour for makes that worker no longer want to work at the ordinary rate. A $100,000 scope of work paying non-prevailing wage ends up being a $350,000 job....PURE MADNESS.

    If the powers that be really wanted to see impact they would ditch this requirement or tie it to minority/economically disadvantaged employment quotas which is what our city does for non-prevailing wage funding.
    You need to request a wage review for your area--those sound really out of wack. Are you lumped in with the NYC wage rates?

    Davis-Bacon drove me nuts when I worked CDBG--particularly the requirements to do employee interviews to make sure their bosses were on the up & up. The environmental process, even the floodplain stuff & SHPO, never really bothered me. In fact, I kind of enjoyed it. I was exceptionally good at buttering up my SHPO representative and could get a 106 clearance in under two weeks most of the time. I got to deal with some of the weird environmental stuff though, like sole-source aquifers and endangered species. We were installing a pedestrian bridge over a river with endangered species habitat in that section of riverbed. I thought the environmental assessment would never be finished. Just to add to the fun, once we started excavating for the embankments we found archeological stuff. The next year we had a serious discussion with Council about why you don't want to use CDBG for messy projects like that.

    I've administered CDBG working for an entitlement city as well as a state agency. While entitlement can be a pain-in-the-ass, working it as a state agency is even worse. Particularly since for some strange damn reason the Feds like to use CDBG as the conduit for disaster recovery funding. Do you have any idea how many waivers it takes just to get a CDBG disaster recovery program to function in that regulatory environment, with a bunch of HUD people that have no goddamn clue about administering a real-world CDBG program or any understanding of disaster resiliency? Although I have to admit that it was fun when our state agency's disaster planning staff cornered Secretary Donavan at the APA Conference in NOLa.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

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

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    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Suburb Repairman View post
    You need to request a wage review for your area--those sound really out of wack. Are you lumped in with the NYC wage rates?

    Davis-Bacon drove me nuts when I worked CDBG--particularly the requirements to do employee interviews to make sure their bosses were on the up & up. The environmental process, even the floodplain stuff & SHPO, never really bothered me. In fact, I kind of enjoyed it. I was exceptionally good at buttering up my SHPO representative and could get a 106 clearance in under two weeks most of the time. I got to deal with some of the weird environmental stuff though, like sole-source aquifers and endangered species. We were installing a pedestrian bridge over a river with endangered species habitat in that section of riverbed. I thought the environmental assessment would never be finished. Just to add to the fun, once we started excavating for the embankments we found archeological stuff. The next year we had a serious discussion with Council about why you don't want to use CDBG for messy projects like that.

    I've administered CDBG working for an entitlement city as well as a state agency. While entitlement can be a pain-in-the-ass, working it as a state agency is even worse. Particularly since for some strange damn reason the Feds like to use CDBG as the conduit for disaster recovery funding. Do you have any idea how many waivers it takes just to get a CDBG disaster recovery program to function in that regulatory environment, with a bunch of HUD people that have no goddamn clue about administering a real-world CDBG program or any understanding of disaster resiliency? Although I have to admit that it was fun when our state agency's disaster planning staff cornered Secretary Donavan at the APA Conference in NOLa.
    Here it is in all it's glory http://www.wdol.gov/wdol/scafiles/da...n/NJ31.dvb?v=1
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  23. #23
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by kjel View post
    Wow... those are double to triple what mine were!

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

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

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    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Suburb Repairman View post
    Wow... those are double to triple what mine were!
    What stinks is Newark's household median income is $35K with 26% of the population is in poverty.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  25. #25
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by luckless pedestrian View post
    Does anyone put together a committee to review the applications? What type of folks are on it?
    We have a (slightly excessive, if you ask me) public process for CDBG funding. A committee combs through all the applications and scores them. Then there is an appeal process. Then the City Manager makes his recommendations, and the City Council chooses a final set of fundees. It's actually not this process that is too involved, it is the set of committees that keep examining how we use the funds and recommending changes to it. I swear, our staff spends more time looking at the big policy part of fund than actually funding projects.

    On the other hand, it beats it being the Mayor's walking around money with no real public process or vetting.

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