|On May 11, 2015, the City Council adopted the City of Mankato 2015-2019 Consolidated Plan for utilization of CDBG funding. The plan details how the annual funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will be used in conformance with CDBG guidelines and guides the use of funds for each annual action plan. The funding level for the 2019 program year is $376,417, which is a slight increase from the $350,000 estimated previously. The draft Action Plan has been updated to reflect the actual appropriation amount.
The plan requirements included citizen participation in areas of community housing and homeless needs, social services, and economic development. In 2015, public meetings were held for each area with citizens and stakeholders. During preparation of the 2019 Action Plan, staff talked with homeless shelters and public service providers. The proposed 2019 Action Plan incorporates the needs identified from all sources. Below is a summary table of proposed activities and funding:
||Owner-occupied housing rehabilitation
||Administration and Planning
Proposed activities within the Action Plan are similar to previous years. The Action Plan proposes $100,000 to provide park improvements to neighborhood park, improving the quality of life in a neighborhood with a high concentration of low-to-moderate income households.
Owner occupied housing rehabilitation is proposed in the amount of $51,417 to benefit low-to-moderate income households. The demand for rehabilitation continues to be strong.
Affordable housing is proposed in the amount of $125,000 to leverage affordable housing. These funds will be granted to a successful Low Income Housing Tax Credit project to preserve or create affordable units in Mankato. For this program year, Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership has requested $100,000 for the Gateway Apartments project and Tapestry Management has requested funding for the rehabilitation of Colonial Square Apartments. The recommendation is to consider $25,000 for Colonial Square Apartments for this year, with the potential for an additional $75,000 in CDBG funding for next year, contingent on a sufficient allocation from HUD. Should a Low Income Housing Tax Credit project not be awarded, funds would be reallocated to owner-occupied housing rehabilitation.
Similar to last year, funding for public services is proposed for VINE, ECHO Food Shelf, Open Door Health Clinic, Feeding our Communities Partners (Back Pack Food Program) and Minnesota Council of Churches (Tapestry program). Staff would advise that funding for public service providers is limited to 15 percent of the total grant allocation and the suggested levels are near this limit. Request for Proposals (RFP) were solicited to reach providers of public services and provide the opportunity to access the public services funds. Selection criteria for proposals identified for funding were based on quality services provided that would meet needs identified in the 2015-2019 Consolidated Plan, would provide high benefit to low-income persons; maximize use of outside funds or leveraging and services which are coordinated with other public and private efforts; clearly defined scope, location, need, budget, goals, and means for evaluation of program progress; help people with special needs achieve better access to and use of existing services; demonstrate capacity of application and capability to be carried out successfully; clearly stated goals and evaluation criteria that are specific, measurable, and realistic; support or coordinate with other community development efforts; present a reasonable and sound budget; and are to be implemented by organization with solid track record. To guide awards, the review panel (made up of City Council members and staff) used the City's Consolidated Plan priorities.
The 2019 Action Plan also includes a summary of housing-related activities that are completed outside of the CDBG program, such as coordinating with area homeless service providers to update the Coordinated Entry System and actively participating in initiatives through the Continuum of Care. Other examples of housing-related activities not funded through CDBG include the ongoing operation of the Housing Choice Voucher program (sometimes referred to as Section 8), the Public Housing program, Shelter Plus Care, Bridges, Mainstream and the Veterans Administration Supportive Housing (VASH) program, as well as partnerships with other service providers such as Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MAC-V), Minnesota Valley Action Council (MVAC), Blue Earth County Human Services, Lutheran Social Services, the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund and MN Housing.
As noted in the Action Plan, efforts to address homelessness include the administration of the Shelter Plus Care, VASH and Bridges programs. Staff are attempting to take a regional approach to address the issue and have worked with providers throughout the South Central Community Mental Health Initiative region to seek 75 Bridges vouchers for our region. These would assist households with mental illness transition from homelessness or other segregated settings in the nine county area. The outcome of this request is still pending. Additionally, the Mankato (and Blue Earth County) EDA approved a preference under the Housing Choice Voucher program to assist households from the Coordinated Entry list. This helps to address homeless needs faster than we were able to previously. Staff continues to stay connected with local shelter providers on any potential expansion plans, as the Council may consider the expenditure of future CDBG funding or other EDA funds for capital needs of a new or expanded shelter. Two local providers are looking into this possibility and staff expressed that there has been previous support of CDBG funds for such items such as feasibility studies and rehabilitation to allow for a shelter expansion. Staff will continue to maintain these conversations and bring forward any future plans for Council consideration, should one of the shelter providers find the appropriate opportunity.
The 2019 Action Plan was posted for public comment starting on April 5, 2019 and the comment period concluded on May 5, 2019, with no comments received. A public hearing will occur during the May 13, 2019 Council meeting. Any additional comments made at the public hearing can still be considered by the City Council and if it is determined that a change to the plans is warranted, city staff will modify the plans prior to submission to HUD.