Aling with TIF (tax increment financing), one of the most powerful community revitalization funding mechanisms in the United States is the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.
The CDBG Program provides annual grants on a formula basis to states, cities, and counties to redevelop viable urban communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment, and by revitalizing economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons.
The program was authorized under Title 1 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, Public Law 93-383, as amended 42 U.S.C. 5301 et seq. The program was designed to reinforce several important values and principles of community redevelopment:
- CDBG’s flexibility empowers people and communities to design and implement strategies tailored to their own needs and priorities;
- CDBG’s emphasis on consolidated planning expands and strengthens partnerships among all levels of government and the private sector in enhancing community redevelopment; and
- CDBG’s technical assistance activities and set-aside for grantees builds the capacity of these partners.
Here’s a small, very recent example of CDBG grans at work:
On June 20, 2023 in New York state, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined by the mayor of the Village of Depew, Kevin Peterson, Village of Depew Trustee Audrey Hamernik, Commissioner of the Department of Environment & Planning Dan Castle, plus local residents at the Village Senior Center to review Community Development Block Grant (“CDBG”)-funded community revitalization investments at the Center, and in the Village.
In the past five years over $674,000 in CDBG funding has facilitated an extensive sidewalk replacement project, the installation of a new inclusive playground at West Dawson Park, and improvements to the Senior Center that have resulted in improved quality of life for residents.
“Here in the Village of Depew, as in many communities across Erie County, residents are seeing improved quality of life thanks to the investment of Community Development Block Grant funds. More accessibility and walkability, more community-centered spots like playgrounds, and improved services for seniors are just some of the ways that our neighborhoods are growing,” said Poloncarz.
“We are also investing in local small businesses with the Storefront Revitalization grant program, a county-funded initiative to help theses businesses invigorate their storefronts and draw more business. Working together, we are building a better Erie County for the future,” he continued.
The group also visited Antoinette’s Sweets on Transit Road, the recipient of a county Storefront Revitalization grant of $40,000.
Announced by Poloncarz at his 2022 State of the County address, the program uses RENEW Plan funding to help small business owners with grants of up to $40,000 to renovate their storefronts to increase foot traffic and business.
This $10 million county investment program is assisting over 260 local small businesses this year with another phase of the program already planned.
Antoinette’s Sweets invested the grant funding in a new overhang, recessed lighting, and a synthetic stone façade panel for the business.
Green Acres Ice Cream, another Depew business, also received a Storefront Revitalization grant and is now welcoming guests on the brand-new deck owner Tom Straus installed with it. Erie County is investing $10 million in the Storefront Revitalization program, assisting over 260 local small businesses this year with another phase of the program already planned.
$400,000 in CDBG funding powered a Village sidewalk replacement project, replacing cracked, lifted and deteriorated Village sidewalks to alleviate safety concerns for residents and enhance their quality of life by increasing walkability.
Sidewalks were replaced on Gould, Terrace Blvd., Bloomfield, Meridian, Marengo, Warsaw, Argus, Columbia and Lincoln.
In 2022, the new playground at West Dawson Park on Columbia Ave. was completed, representing a CDBG investment of nearly $165,000.
Additionally, over $108,000 in CDBG funding was used to replace the HVAC system at the Senior Center and install COVID-related restroom safety improvements such as the installation of touchless faucets.
Dan Castle added, “Individually, the CDBG and Storefront Programs are helping to create better public places across Erie County, but when the benefits of each program combine within a community like Depew, it can be transforming for the neighborhood, residents, and businesses.”
Photo courtesy of the Village of Depew.