Westminster and Thornton city councils approved their annual action plans for the Community Development Block Grants on July 25 and 26 respectively.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development designates funds to municipalities every year to be used for programs and projects that benefit low- and moderate-income residents and areas. Those are defined as areas where at least half of the residents have annual incomes of less than 60% of the median gross income. For the Metro Denver area, 60% of the median income is $49,260 for a single person or $63,300 for a family of three.
Westminster received $585,031 and Thornton $837,776, though Thornton allocated an additional $191,114 from the Arts and Culture Division.
Most of Westminster’s money will fund affordable housing initiatives, according to the meeting’s agenda.
The city's Affordable Housing Rehabilitation and Preservation project will get $208,025. This will provide property owners of properties that serve lower-to-moderate income residents the ability to complete needed repairs and safety updates.
These properties are deed restricted to maintain affordability.
The next $160,000 will go to the Emergency and Essential Home Repair program, which helps low- and moderate-income residents for urgent repairs needed to stay in their homes. Up to $5,000 in eligible minor and emergency home repairs are available to those who qualify.
Jefferson County Housing Navigation Center will receive $100,000. They have begun efforts to assemble a campus of both transitional and permanent supportive housing.
The rest — $117,006 — will go towards administration costs.
Cheryl Steinberg, grant and housing supervisor, said the bulk of Thornton’s funds are going towards affordable housing. The city consulted with 30 public service organizations to understand the community needs, she said.
The first $159,500 will go to Help for Homes for owner-occupied, single-family, low-to-moderate income minor home repairs. So far, 21 households will be assisted.
The Paint-a-Thon Program will receive $40,000 for exterior home painting for senior residents, often for residents with disabilities who can’t paint their homes. 13 homes will be painted.
Alternative energy measures will get $100,000, specifically for GRID Alternatives to install rooftop solar panels on 12 low-to-moderate income homes. This will bring their electric bill down to zero for years to come. It is also a youth hiring program to train local youths in hard and soft skills for the solar panel industry.
A new $245,054 program will focus on code compliance assistance. This money will hire a staff member to operate the program, which will help homes identify code violations and help those residents upgrade to code.
Homeless Prevention and Support Services will get $125,666 and $167,555 will go towards grant administration.
From the $191,114 reallocated from the Arts and Culture Division, $40,500 will be added to Help for Homes, $66,000 will be added to GRID Alternatives and $24,614 to Code Compliance Assistance.
The other $60,000 will be placed in a new program called CAPABLE - an age-in-place program. This will work with travel nurses who will go into senior citizens' homes to help with anything they need.
HUD requires a 30-day public comment period each year for residents to comment on the plan. Since the annual action plans are five-year plans, it’s difficult to change the direction. However, it does provide council and city staff with ideas.
Andy Le, a spokesperson for Westminster, said community members have suggested using the money to create a park at 73rd and Lowell. Councilors supported the idea but chose to pay for it with local money rather than use federal CDBG funds.
This time around, Thornton didn’t receive much public comment, but Westminster residents brought forth ideas.
Beverly Bishop cheered on preserving and updating affordable housing units in the south of Westminster and suggested sending funds to Growing Home, which owns the Westchester Apartments. She said they are already tight on funds. She also suggested some of the funds be used to help rental inspections and to address homelessness.
Christopher Stimpson posed the idea for the funds to be used to give electric bikes to low-income essential workers.
Advocacy and Community Organizing Manager Whitney Leeds said the proposal should be submitted as is.