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CDBG Funds- How do you use?


I have recently started working in a new entitlement community that handles their CDBG funds very differently than the last place I worked. So it got me thinking that I would like to hear from other entitlement communities:

1. Do you use your funds mostly in-house or give them out to other municipal departments? E.g. if you fund a park project do you have a parks planner in your CD department that manages the design or do you give the money to a separate parks department?

2. Do you use CDBG funds to staff your department or other departments? If so, do you hire project managers that work on projects and are billed to the project areas or do you stick to the 20% "overhead" allowance?

3. How many people do you have administering your grant program? Is that enough?

4. Have you ever had problems with "timeliness" eg. not spending funds fast enough?

Any other entitlement stories would also be welcome. I am particularly interested in how communities can use CDBG funds to advance land use and transportation planning objectives in addition to the more conventional housing and social service objectives.

mike gurnee

Do you get 5 million a year, or 300,000? The best CDBG programs are in the same department as planning. That way, planning objectives can be kept in the forefront.

I have many horror stories with what politicians want to do with CD funds. Bottom line for a good program: have a good finance person on board. The money flows too quickly (or not fast enough) for a planner to grasp. And don't forget to suck up to the state HUD people.


Staff member
i'm in an entitlement city and i have been the cd planner, n-hood planner, and asst director in my tenure.

1) we have a dedicated department of redevelopment with a staff of five full time employees. in the past, the director, assistant director and cd planner all worked p/t redevelopment, p/t city planning. (the previous administration changed this and now all staff are f/t.) salaries all come under planning and program administration -- 20% cap, except when salary is built into service delivery costs for each activity. i would say that five staff is sufficient to administer our program.

2) one of our activities is youth recreation in target area n-hoods. we pay salary of the parks dept staff providing the services, with quarterly reporting to ensure eligibility. cd funds never go directly to parks department (or any other department for that matter).

3) timeliness? you bet we've had problems, mostly of our own making. we have had to partially fund activities that had big price tags, meaning money sat and didn't get used until we had gone through 2-3 years of one-year plans. that inactivity counted against us, and for the past two years we have had to spend down on some major projects to get under the 1.5 year cap. stress all around and even enough to share. (this january we were at 2.6 and got down to 1.46 by may 1 -- but it was not fun...)

as to land use and transportation objectives, obviously your five year and one plans need to address what you plan to do and how much you intend to spend on it. then there's that little issue with cd about how to show direct or area benefit to primarily low-mod folks.

like mike gurnee i've got lots of war stories, but i won't bore you.


I've been a community development planner with my City for just over two years. The CDBG/SHIP section of our planning division consists currently of two. We will hopefully get another planner if the budget passes so we will finally have enough time to monitor! We budget the 20% max for our admin activities and this pays for the three planners, as well as, the partial salary for our finance girl. We have two departments that run programs for us (utilities connection grant program and EDRL program)however, they are not paid with admin monies. As for timeliness.. i think we all have timeliness issues......I am obsessed with running the IDIS timeliness report...Our problem stems from the EDRL programs program income (which is dedicated to that program), and the fact that we can't convince anyone to take a loan from us!