Tulare spending big on community development

With the help of a big windfall, Tulare will be handing out nearly $1.3 million to help fund a long list of community projects in 2019 and into 2020.

While the city makes annual allocations to various projects–mainly to low-income housing efforts–thanks to the payoff of an economic development loan to the tune of $590,000, the amount it will distribute from its Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) fund will nearly double its usual payout during this cycle.

“Normally, we get about $620,000 a year, because we’re a city of 50,000,” said Margie Perez, Tulare’s housing and grants specialist.


CDBG Sources

That state funding normally makes up the bulk of the CDBG funding the city has to offer, with other sources sweetening the pot, such as the payoff of first-time homebuyer loans. This year however, a large loan the city made to foster business development got a reimbursement late in the funding cycle, leading to an unusually oversize rollover from the 2018-19 CDBG account.

“We had one specific economic development loan paid off. It was a large amount, so this year we have quite a lot of income,” Perez said. “That’s not normal or typical.”

As it stands now, Tulare’s CDBG fund for this fiscal year should have $1,295,007 to allocate. That number, however, could change a bit.

“It may change by $10,000 up or down, hopefully up,” Perez said. “Sometimes, it’s right on the money.”


Big Projects

If that number goes up, Perez said the additional funding will likely go to one of the two biggest projects on the 2019-20 list of improvements. The city will be granting just more than $370,000 to help pay for a complete rehabilitation of the Bardsley Garden Senior Apartments.

“We’re only one part of the funding,” Perez said. “They’re going to make it fully ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant and energy efficient.”

The city’s other large outlay will also involve ADA improvements, this time at Sacramento Street and Maple Avenue. ADA upgrades there make up only part of that project, which will receive $390,000 in CDBG funding.

“They’re going to be doing water and sewer improvements,” said Perez. “They’re replacing all of the water and sewer piping, and updating the ADA sidewalks and replacing pavement.”

Despite the size of the two largest funding allocations, much of the money the CDBG fund distributes is allocated in much smaller amounts. The city’s graffiti abatement program will get $30,700 in CDBG money this fiscal year, and the Continuum of Care project, which hosts single-day events to connect homeless people with available services, will receive a payout of $10,000.


Picking Projects and Programs

While the Continuum of Care and the city’s efforts to abate graffiti receive yearly funding from CDBG, most of the other projects it funds are one-time recipients. Which projects will benefit from CDBG allocations is decided by the city’s CDBG committee.

The committee formulates a draft spending plan based on the availability of funds for the current spending cycle, earmarking varying amounts of funding for those applicants who qualify. It then refines the plan based on citizen input, which varies depending on who attends the public hearing sessions.

“We take public comments first for 30 days,” Perez said. “One of the things we heard was there was no ADA (access) at the Senior Center.”

That comment led to a $40,000 allocation for upgrades to disability access for the alleys near F and G streets, as well as on King Avenue. Other facility improvement funding by CDBG money includes upgrading lighting and benches at Parkwood Meadows Park, new showers at the Tulare Lighthouse Rescue Mission, as well as funding for a pair of low-income housing programs.


Housing and Jobs

CDBG funding will also help Habitat for Humanity’s housing rehabilitation program, as well as aiding Kings View’s programs for the mentally ill and those fighting drug addiction. Money from the CDBG fund will go to AmVets.

“They’re going to focus more on low-income veterans,” Perez said. “They’re also going to assist with employment services.”

A portion of the money earmarked for the United Way will assist in connecting other Tulare residents in need of housing with available services, as well as providing its clients with emergency rent and utility payments. Brook Chapel’s funding will be used to provide similar assistance.

“They have quite a bit who reach out to them,” Perez said.

Once the CDBG spending schedule is in its final form, it must be approved by the City Council. The 2019-20 CDBG spending was up for approval at the Tuesday, April 16 meeting.

For more information about Tulare’s CDBG program, call (559) 684-4256, or email [email protected].

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