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City asks public for ideas on spending up to $4 million in federal entitlement funds

       A series of public meetings are being held in August to hear citizen ideas for a city "action plan" to spend up to $4 million in federal entitlement block grants.
       None of the meetings are on or near the Westside, but the city's Housing and Community Initiatives Division will also take non-meeting comments at housingdevelopment@springsgov.com or 385-5421, a division official said in response to a Westside Pioneer question.
       "The information gathered will be used for the preparation of the Annual Action Plan for the period of April 1, 2016-March 31, 2017,” a city press release states.
Homeless camps - such as this one in 2008 along Fountain Creek west of the Cimarron/I-25 interchange - were more prevalent in Colorado Springs before City Council approved a public no-camping ordinance in 2010. In keeping with its Annual Action Plan, which directs the use of nearly $4 million in federal entitlements, the city is spending more than $200,000 on homeless issues in fiscal year 2015. Public feedback is being sought for the 2016 plan.
Westside Pioneer file photo
“The Annual Action Plan outlines the strategies for addressing housing, economic and community development needs of low- and moderate-income residents.”
       The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) gave Colorado Springs a total of $3,846,557 in three block-grant categories for the 2015 fiscal year that began April 1. The amount for 2016 has not yet been announced. An "Expected Resources" graph in the city's 2015 Action Plan anticipates a 5 percent decline in stipends to the city over the next five years; indicating that somewhere between $3.6 million and $3.7 million can be expected for 2016.
       The bulleted items below break down the 2015 total by block-grant category (note: quoted segments regarding fund uses are extracted from the 2015 Action Plan):
       · Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) - $2,620,268 (used for public improvements, homelessness, housing rehabilitation, economic development and other needs, “principally for persons of low- and moderate-income levels”).
       · Home Investment Partnerships (HOME) - $998,094 (used for housing rehab and housing-related programs and services to provide “affordable rental and ownership housing for low- and moderate-income households.”)
       · Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) - $228,195 (used for “outreach to and shelters for homeless individuals and families [as well as to] prevent homelessness or rapidly re-house [the] homeless.” Funds can also cover related “database costs.”
       The 2015 Action Plan additionally points out that former geographic strategies for distributing HUD money - which had included a Westside Neighborhood Strategy Area (NSA) for more than 35 years - have been changed. However, individual households in the Westside NSA may still be eligible for assistance, a city official has said.
       For those wishing to attend any Action Plan meetings, they are as follows (all from 6 to 7:30 p.m.):
       - Aug. 3, Meadows Park Community Center, 1943 S. El Paso Ave.
       - Aug. 6, YMCA - Southeast, 2190 Jet Wing Drive.
       - August 10, Deerfield Hills Community Center, 4290 Deerfield Hills Rd.
       - August 17, Fire Station 8, 3737 Airport Rd.
       - August 24, Fellowship Bible Church, 5590 N. Nevada Ave.
       Regarding the choice of meeting locations, city spokesperson Krithika Prashant exlained in an e-mail that only one "public hearing" was technically required for the Action Plan but the city decided to schedule five, "focusing primarily in target areas."

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 7/30/15; Community Ongoing Issues)

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