Columbians who would like to get federal grants to improve low- to moderate-income neighborhoods or to provide additional affordable housing to people in that income range are invited to three public forums this month.
The forums are part of a federally mandated five-year plan on how City Hall would spend Community Development Block Grants, known as CDBG money, during fiscal years 2015 through 2020, said Deborah Livingston, the city’s Community Development director.
But the forums also will affect decisions on two other federally financed programs, the Home Partnership Investment and the Housing Opportunities for Persons with Aids programs.
Residents concerned about lower-income people or neighborhoods are asked to attend with suggestions on drainage or road improvement projects, medical or mental health needs – or they may request that whole neighborhoods be designated as eligible for the federal aid, Livingston said.
Currently, the city has designed five parts of town as eligible: the East Edisto, Booker T. Washington Heights and Martin Luther King/Lyon Street neighborhoods; portions of Eau Claire between Elmwood Avenue and I-20 and scattered areas around Beltline Boulevard and Two Notch Road.
CDBG funding has been dropping in recent years, Livingston said. Four years ago, Columbia received $1.1 million. This year’s allotment is $951,000. Next year’s allocation has not been determined, Livingston said.