Kent County is proposing to join with the cities of Grand Rapids and Wyoming to consolidate some aspects of their annual planning for Housing and Community Development projects funded by the federal Housing and Urban Development administration.
The three local governments have selected a Maryland consultant, Cloudburst Consulting Group, to prepare a regional Consolidated Housing and Community Development Plan, as required by HUD, for fiscal years 2016 through 2020.
The three jurisdictions are proposing to share the consultant’s services and fees of $83,900, in equal proportions of $27,967 each. Sharing that cost and staff resources will save each jurisdiction money, although the amount was not spelled out at last week’s meeting of the Kent County board’s Finance and Physical Resources Committee.
“Each jurisdiction will realize cost savings by doing it collectively,” said Linda S. Likely, director of Housing and Community Development at Kent County.
The ball began rolling in 2012 when Kent County was awarded a grant through the State of Michigan Competitive Grant Assistance Program to study potential consolidation of the Community Development Office with the cities of Grand Rapids and Wyoming.
A regional HCD plan will provide a comprehensive blueprint of housing and community development needs for the entire county. Kent County will be the lead agency while Grand Rapids and Wyoming are participating agencies in the regional HCD plan submitted to HUD.
While the three will use a single consolidated plan, each will continue to retain its individual status as HUD grantees and have continued oversight and administration of their respective grants, according to documents provided by Assistant County Administrator Wayman Britt to the commissioners on the FPR committee.
HUD provides funds through Community Development Block Grants to local governments to improve substandard housing for low-income families and individuals.
In the current federal fiscal year ending June 30, Kent County was allocated $1,498,798 in HUD CDBG funds. Grand Rapids received a little more than $3.5 million and Wyoming received $479,632.
Last year Kent County’s CDBG funds from the federal government were slightly more than $1.5 million.
Likely said CDBG funding has been declining for several years.
“Everyone’s taking cuts across the board,” she said.