Local cities discuss 2019 CDBG funding

By: Mike Koury | C&G Newspapers | Published November 26, 2018

OAKLAND COUNTY — The cities of Ferndale, Berkley, Huntington Woods and Pleasant Ridge recently discussed plans for their respective Community Development Block Grant funds next year.

CDBG money is federal funding that comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, through Oakland County.

The Ferndale City Council discussed and approved its 2019 CDBG application at its Nov. 13 meeting. The proposed funds amount to $78,943, where $30,000 would go toward tree planting, $33,943 would go to minor home repairs, $10,000 would go to yard services and $5,000 would go to a program that addresses domestic violence.

Some of the groups benefiting from this money include HAVEN of Oakland County and the Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency.

Blair Grinn, civil advocacy supervisor for HAVEN, thanked the council for its continued support of the organization. She estimated that because of last year’s funding, HAVEN was able to help approximately 65 Ferndale residents.

“Tragically, one of the things I did want to bring to mind, over the 2017-18 year, we did have a domestic violence-related homicide in our city,” she said. “So I think that shows the heightened importance of having services accessible to folks, because as upsetting and disturbing as it is, Ferndale is not immune. Intimate partner violence is something that affects all communities everywhere, and as great as our city is, some of our citizens and some of our neighbors are currently experiencing domestic and sexual violence in their homes. So we want to make sure that we can serve those people and serve them well.”

Berkley’s City Council met Nov. 19, when it approved its own CDBG application for $33,419 in funding. Its proposed funding would cover $23,394 for removing architectural barriers, $3,500 for yard waste services for seniors who qualify, $3,025 for services that would purchase large-print library books, and $3,500 for HAVEN.

“We’re happy to participate,” City Manager Matt Baumgarten said about the CDBG funds. “We would certainly receive far less if not for our partnership with other communities, as well as Oakland County, and we look forward to putting this (funding) to very good work throughout the community.”

At its Nov. 13 meeting, the Pleasant Ridge City Commission approved its CDBG application for $7,000, which City Manager James Breuckman said is the minimum funding level through Oakland County.

“We can program that for a very limited range of uses,” he said. “The CDBG program has a wide range of services and projects you can do using that money, but it has to be used in low-income areas.”

Breuckman said Pleasant Ridge doesn’t really have a low-income area, so the money would go toward senior services.

“Within CDBG, there is a presumed benefit for persons who are 62 years or older,” he said. “It’s assumed they qualify for the low income without having to provide income verification or showing that they meet the income requirements for using CDBG money. It might be the only thing we can provide locally here and still meet the requirements of the CDBG program.”

There was a request from HAVEN for funding as well. While the city approved the application as is, Commissioner Jason Krzysiak said he wants Pleasant Ridge to possibly find money in the budget to help HAVEN.

The Huntington Woods City Commission met Nov. 20 to discuss its CDBG application, where it expects to receive $9,350. According to City Manager Amy Sullivan, the proposed application would have $2,805 go toward transportation for the senior bus program, and $6,545 to the Oakland County Home Improvement Program.

“The balance of the money needs to be used on areas that are low income or to make things ADA-compliant,” she said, referring to the Americans with Disabilities Act. “We haven’t identified any projects this year, so we’re recommending that that money be turned back to the Oakland County Home Improvement Program, which is a program for low-income residents, which Huntington Woods residents may use if they meet those requirements for necessary home repairs.”

Some commissioners expressed during the meeting their unease at returning money to Oakland County without looking at more options as to where the money could go in the city, with replacing some park equipment as a potential use.

As the CDBG applications aren’t due until December, the commission decided to table its application and meet during a special meeting on Nov. 26, which occurred after the Woodward Talk went to print, to discuss other possible options.