County finding new uses for CDGB funds

9

The Colusa County Board of Supervisors dissolved the county’s long-running Community Development Block Grant Housing Revolving Loan Fund and Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund in order to establish a new fund that could provide citizens as well as non-profit organizations far more access to low-interest loans, grant funding, or a combination of both.  

Greg Plucker, Colusa Community Development director, said that the change is based on the 2014 U.S. Department of Housing and Human Development determination that California’s CDBG revolving loan program funds were inconsistent with federal rules and regulations. 

As a result, jurisdictions with less than 50,000 people can choose to roll their existing funds into Revolving Loan Funds or transfer the money into a single Program Income Fund.  

The county has nearly $458,000 in the housing loan fund and nearly $563,000 in the economic loan fund.

“As of September, we have over $1 million in those funds,” Plucker said. 

Plucker said as of the September 2018, the county was at risk of having to return the money, but the establishment of the new Program Income Fund will keep the money local and remove many limitations on how its used. 

While only two active projects can be funded at a time, the list of eligible projects includes not just economic development, housing rehabilitation, and homebuyer assistance, but also code enforcement and non-residential historic preservation, 

“You can have senior meals-on-wheels types of programs; food banks,” Plucker said. “You can help establish facilities, such as a woman’s shelter or abused children’s shelter – things of that nature. You can do job training, infrastructure improvements and a whole host of activities.” 

The Board of Supervisors agreed to begin soliciting projects countywide. 

Applications would have to be analyzed to make sure the projects meet the national objective, and satisfy low-income eligibility requirements before being reviewed by the CDBG Committee and offering recommendations to the Board of Supervisors.  

“This is an incredible opportunity for our community to get some projects done,” said Supervisor John Loudon, a member of the committee. “I think we should move expeditiously on it.” 

The Board could select a large project or develop a list of projects that benefit the community, so they can rapidly start spending down the existing funds as required by the state.  

“Not only do we have to get it out the door, but we have to get it out the door so that we can apply for additional funds,” Plucker said. 

With the new, less-restrictive uses for CDGB money, the county hopes to eventually target business development, job creation, and infrastructure projects with the subsequent rounds of funding, but the immediate push will be to get the existing $1 million out into the community as soon as possible, officials said. 

“Given the amount of money we have, I think we can make a significant impact on some of our service needs,” Plucker said. ■