The Community Development Block Grant program, one of the longest continually running programs at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs. One important caveat of CDBG funding is that at least 70 percent of CDBG funds must be utilized for activities that benefit persons with low- to moderate-incomes. Other national objectives for the program include prevention or elimination of slums or blight and addressing community development needs with particular urgency because existing conditions pose a serious and immediate threat to the health or welfare of the community for which other funding is not available.
For the 2015-2016 program year, the city of Asheville received $1,083,621 in CDBG funding, and on March 17, the Asheville Housing and Community Development Committee listened to presentations from area applicants. And while many interesting and timely projects are proposed each year, those with the most potential were vetted and recommended for funding. Funding recommendations for use of CDBG funds were made at the Housing and Community Development meeting on March 19. The following is a rundown of the projects the city intends to present for funding commentary at its April 28 meeting:
Applicant: Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity • Project: Homeownership Education • Activity Type: Housing Services • Amount Requested: $75,000 • Amount Funded: $50,000 • Project Description: AAHH will qualify and educate 15 low-income individuals or families for our homeownership program. After a careful homeowner selection process, AAHH requires at least 200 hours of sweat equity (volunteer hours) from each adult in a household who will live in the new home. Included are 50 hours of required coursework, taught mostly by Habitat staff, with courses in money management, home maintenance, predatory lending, homebuyer education and more.
Applicant: Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity • Project: Financial/Lending Services • Activity Type: Housing Services • Amount Requested: $50,000 • Amount Funded: $40,000 • Project Description: Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity provides 0% interest mortgages and home repair loans for families making 70 percent or less of AMI so they can purchase new Green Built NC affordable housing. AAHH currently holds $14.7M of receivable mortgages. Our staff underwrite the mortgages, qualify the families, manage the closings on the houses and continue to hold the mortgages and loans until they are paid in full. We sell homes to those unable to obtain a conventional mortgage sufficient to purchase a home comparable to those AAHH provides.
Applicant: Asheville-Buncombe Community Relations Council • Project: Fair Housing Outreach and Education • Activity Type: Public Services • Amount Requested: $25,000 • Amount Funded: $10,391 • Project Description: ABCRC serves as Asheville’s point-of-contact for issues of housing discrimination, engaging, educating and providing support to vulnerable populations (racial/cultural minorities, people with disabilities, female heads of households, LGBT individuals and people with special needs) so that individuals know how to address discrimination and improve or sustain their housing situations.
Applicant: Arc of Buncombe County • Project: Housing Case Management Program • Activity Type: Housing Services • Amount Requested: $15,320 • Amount Funded: $15,000 • Project Description: The Arc of Buncombe County is applying for funding for our Housing Case Management Program (HCMP) that is offered under our Augmented Case Management Program. The program provides the housing location and stabilization component for the continuum of services that empower individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live independently.
Applicant: Asheville City Schools • Project: Improving Success for Asheville’s Youth After School • Activity Type: Public Services • Amount Requested: $25,000 • Amount Funded: $14,850 • Project Description: The Asheville City Schools Foundation seeks funds for In Real Life (IRL), a high-quality after-school program that serves low-income students at Asheville Middle. IRL coordinates 30+ service providers and teachers so that low-income students can get academic help and participate in community service, sports and arts activities. Students design a unique schedule of programs to meet their needs. IRL removes barriers for children in poverty by providing transportation, snacks and effective outreach.
Applicant: Christian United, Inc. • Project: United Contracting Green Infrastructure Jobs • Activity Type: Economic Development • Amount Requested: $24,613 • Amount Funded: $0 • Project Description: Christian United, Inc. will catalyze a social enterprise — United Contracting to provide needed living wage jobs and training in landscaping and green infrastructure. A project to connect low income people, particularly African-Americans, to job training, living wages and portals of advancement for further training, career opportunities and entrepreneurism. United Contracting will install and maintain rain gardens, bio-swales, vegetative roofs, streetscapes, islands and other green systems which capture stormwater and efficiently use it at its source point.
Applicant: Eagle Market Streets Development Corporation • Project: Empowering Residents to Transition into Home Ownership • Activity Type: Economic Development • Amount Requested: $150,000 • Amount Funded: $45,920 • Project Description: “Empowering Residents to Transition into Home Ownership” is an economic development model that focuses on transitioning individuals from public housing to conventional, affordable housing through creating living wage employment and microenterprise opportunities, thus improving quality of life indicators for individuals and communities.
Applicant: Green Opportunities • Project: Job Training and Placement for Asheville Residents in Poverty • Activity Type: Economic Development • Amount Requested: $150,000 • Amount Funded: $125,000 • Project Description: GO’s Jobs Training & Placement program will provide newly incentivized technical and life skills training and case management to 65 low-income individuals with significant employment barriers. These services, combined with new paid social enterprise activities in the renovated Edington Center, will facilitate access to well-paying jobs with local employment partners and post-secondary education opportunities. Ongoing support services will also be provided to at least 40 additional graduates.
Applicant: Homeward Bound of Western North Carolina • Project: AHOPE Coordinated Assessment • Activity Type: Public Services • Amount Requested: $100,000 • Amount Funded: $59,400 • Project Description: For individuals and families experiencing literal homelessness in Asheville, Homeward Bound’s (HB) AHOPE Coordinated Assessment program serves as the center of the city’s Coordinated Assessment (CA) System. The CA System is a locally developed, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) mandated system that improves and streamlines referrals of individuals and families who are literally homeless to the community’s homeless housing programs. The AHOPE Coordinated Assessment program prioritizes and targets literally homeless individuals and families by utilizing an evidence-informed, standardized tool to assess the vulnerability of persons in terms of their age, homeless/housing history, use of health and emergency services, socialization and daily functions and wellness to house those households with the highest acuity. The assessment tool produces a score, helping the community’s Coordinated Assessment workgroup determine the most appropriate housing intervention (general housing assistance, rapid re-housing or permanent supportive housing) to move individuals and families into housing and end their homelessness for good.
Applicant: Homeward Bound of Western North Carolina • Project: Pathways to Permanent Housing • Activity Type: Housing Services • Amount Requested: $85,000 • Amount Funded: $85,000 • Project Description: Homeward Bound’s Pathways to Permanent Housing (PPH) program supports the Asheville-Buncombe 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness. Based on the Housing First best practice model, the program helps the most vulnerable hard-to-house, hard-to-keep housed individuals and families locate and procure permanent supportive housing, providing in-home, intensive case management services to assist them in maintaining their housing long term.
Applicant: Helpmate, Inc. • Project: Domestic Violence Services: Shelter and Crisis Stabilization • Activity Type: Public Services • Amount Requested: $28,000 • Amount Funded: $15,840 • Project Description: This project supports our Domestic Violence Crisis Stabilization Program (shelter and case management), specifically the Case Manager and Shelter Coordinator. These positions help survivors develop and implement safety plans and individualized case management plans. Shelter staff conduct emergency intakes and coordinate post-crisis services such as permanent housing, legal remedies, mental health/substance abuse services, etc. to promote long-term healing and safety from abuse.
Applicant: Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind, Inc. (application for affiliate IFB Asheville) • Project: Renovations at IFB Asheville Plant • Activity Type: Commercial Property Improvement • Amount Requested: $97,974 • Amount Funded: $0 • Project Description: IFB Asheville is in dire need of spacial improvements. The manufacturing plant employs 115 individuals, including 51 of those who are blind, brings $35 million in annual sales and contributes $3 million in payroll to be spent in the community. The renovations will help us improve safety and quality of working conditions for our constituency, allow to conserve water and energy, and to sustain efficient manufacturing processes for order acceptance, processing and shipping to our government and commercial clients in the United States and abroad. More operational funds will be used to fulfill our mission.
Applicant: Mountain Housing Opportunities • Project: Housing Development and Lending Services • Activity Type: Housing Services • Amount Requested: $145,000 • Amount Funded: $90,000 • Project Description: MHO seeks $145,000 of CDBG funds for our Housing Development and Lending Services Program (HDLS). HDLS staff administer critical housing programs identified by Asheville’s Consolidated Plan — detailed in Sections II E. 1 & 2. Total development and lending in this program averages $10-30 million annually. HDLS staff are leveraging private and public dollars at approximately $5-12 for every $1 of local funding.
Applicant: Mountain Housing Opportunities • Project: Emergency Home Repair Tier I • Activity Type: Other • Amount Requested: $75,000 • Amount Funded: $75,000 • Project Description: This proposal is a request for $75,000 to assist in the repair of imminent threats to life, health and safety in 12 homes owned and occupied by low-income elderly, disabled, single parent or large families with three or more dependent children.
Applicant: Mountain Housing Opportunities • Project: Emergency Home Repair Tier II • Activity Type: Other • Amount Requested: $75,000 • Amount Funded: $75,000 • Project Description: To assist 4 low-income special-needs homeowners of the city of Asheville whose housing repair needs go beyond the scope of the Emergency Repair Program Tier I. This will include housing repairs that address issues beyond imminent threats and will attempt to stabilize the home for 5-8 years.
Applicant: Mountain BizWorks • Project: Business Training for Asheville’s Entrepreneurs • Activity Type: Economic Development • Amount Requested: $115,878 • Amount Funded: $70,000 • Project Description: Mountain BizWorks (MBW) makes loans to entrepreneurs who are unable to access traditional financing. For many low-to-moderate income (LMI), African-American and Latino entrepreneurs, high-quality business coaching and classes can better position them for a loan approval and better position their businesses for long-term success. As a result of our program, LMI, African-American and Latino entrepreneurs will start or grow businesses that generate extra family income and create jobs.
Applicant: OnTrack Financial Education & Counseling • Project: Financial Capabilities Program • Activity Type: Public Services • Amount Requested: $20,000 • Amount Funded: $11,880 • Project Description: Through OnTrack’s Financial Capabilities program clients will create and use a realistic budget to meet the challenges of high housing costs and will have tangible support to understand and address credit problems that keep them trapped in high cost financial products. Relevant/timely information and planning action steps with realistically attainable goals will help clients move toward financial self-sufficiency, behavior change and achieving their financial goals.
Applicant: Pisgah Legal Services • Project: Homelessness Prevention Project • Activity Type: Public Services • Amount Requested: $65,000 • Amount Funded: $44,550 • Project Description: Pisgah Legal Services will prevent and reduce homelessness by providing free legal assistance to: help very low-income residents prevent or delay eviction and foreclosures; stabilize housing for families by obtaining or protecting housing they can afford; and improve or preserve the quality of housing conditions.
Applicant: Partners Unlimited, Inc. • Project: Academic Enhancement • Activity Type: Public Services • Amount Requested: $40,000 • Amount Funded: $4,950 • Project Description: The Academic Enhancement Program is an after-school dropout prevention program that serves students who need to recover lost high school credits, allowing them to graduate with their peers. The program operates Monday-Thursday from 10:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. The curriculum is delivered via GradPoint online learning system, which is correlated with state and national standards (Common Core Standards and Essential Learning).
Applicant: The Support Center • Project: TSC Women’s Business Center of WNC Program • Activity Type: Economic Development • Amount Requested: $120,000 • Amount Funded: $45,920 • Project Description: The Support Center’s (TSC’s) Women’s Business Center of Western North Carolina (WBCW) seeks funding to support our Asheville-based small business owner programs, which are designed to help those in affordable housing, creative artists, veterans and minorities build and grow successful businesses that create jobs. Specifically, we seek funding for our Business Ready program, our Creative Industry Management (CIM) Curriculum, Jus Folks project and our ongoing networking events and workshops.
Applicant: YWCA of Asheville and Western North Carolina • Project: Drop In Child Care • Activity Type: Public Services • Amount Requested: $25,000 • Amount Funded: $0 • Project Description: The YWCA’s Drop-In Child Care Center offers case assistance and no-cost child care to families seeking economic security by pursuing education, job training, job interviews or accessing vital social services. Child care is available 58 hours per week, Monday through Saturday. Each adult participant works with the program coordinator, a trained community navigator, to identify and set empowerment activity goals and is provided with information and referral services to help achieve their goals.
A draft plan is available for review on the city’s website and at the Community and Economic Development Department in city hall. A public hearing on the plan will be held at the City Council meeting starting at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 28, 2015, in Asheville City Hall. Residents are encouraged to offer comments. Written comments should be sent to: Heather Dillashaw, Community Development Manager, City of Asheville, P.O. Box 7148, Asheville, NC 28802. Comments must arrive by April 28, 2015.
Are you an agency interested in applying for a CDBG in the future? Each December, workshops are announced on the city’s Funding Programs website, where one can also view applications and presentation material from last year’s application process. Prospective applicants are strongly encouraged to attend.