Pueblo is expected to receive approximately $2.4 million in federal funding over the next year for 21 different projects meant to provide decent affordable housing and create suitable living environments in the city.
City council approved the 2021 action plan Monday to guide spending for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME programs, an annual funding source from the federal government to municipalities.
The action plan for this year is guided by the city’s consolidated plan, a five-year outlook approved in June that outlined the city’s need for affordable housing and broke down which demographics are the most cost burdened.
Pueblo will receive approximately $1.5 million in CDBG funding and approximately $850,000 in HOME funding over the next fiscal year, which is slightly more than the city received in 2019. There is also approximately $440,000 in HOME program income.
In 2019, 2,226 people were assisted by CDBG funds and 72 households were assisted by HOME funds.
The HOME funds will be used for tenant-based rental assistance for 17 households, rehabilitation for 10 rental units, construction of two infill housing units and development of five rental units.
“That’s a little misleading. Just a few weeks ago, council approved the Fuel & Iron project, which is 28 units of housing. But we only took five of those. This is a low number. We’ll assist five but we hope to stimulate more than five,” said Pueblo’s Director of Housing and Community Services Bryan Gallagher.
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Nearly $130,000 of the HOME funds will be used to support the rehabilitation of the Sunset Motel, creating 10 single-room occupancy units for low-income older adults, though that plan is still in negotiations.
Approximately $125,000 of the HOME funds are designated for administration and planning.
The CDBG funding is designated in four focus areas: infrastructure improvements, homeless support services, youth and senior services and housing assistance programs. A bit over $300,000 of the CDBG funds will be used for administration and planning.
Of those CBDG funds, $400,000 will be used for ADA curb ramp upgrades — the largest project in the action plan meant to improve sidewalk accessibility along Abriendo Avenue between Washington Street and Cleveland Avenue.
Another $100,000 will be used for ADA upgrades specifically in the Sunnyside neighborhood. The Grove neighborhood also applied for, and was granted, $180,830 in infrastructure improvements.
Pueblo County Emergency Services and Essential Repairs will get approximately $45,000 in CDBG funds for emergency repairs in eight households, fixing urgent issues such as a lack of water, heat or electricity. Another $102,000 will be used to conduct minor repairs in 17 households.
The Pueblo Rescue Mission will get $40,000 for staffing; that organization benefits an estimated 200 people who are experiencing homelessness or close to homelessness.
Posada will get $20,000 for its youth program and $50,000 for its homeless support service. It’s a small fraction of the non-profit’s over $2.2 million operating budget and less than the approximately $120,000 in projects they applied for. Still, it helps with staffing and operational support.
“This is really instrumental in funding the support service staff positions, and some of the things that are not glamorous at all, but essential to our operations. That’s helping us with things like utilities, like insurance,” said Posada Director Kim Bowman.
“In general, operating support is helpful in keeping our lights on and our doors open.”
Overall, however, Bowman said she has seen an increase in need and a reduction in available resources, especially as she anticipates the end of the eviction moratorium and expanded unemployment payments. Posada has already presented projects for future rounds of CBDG funding.
“The needs are tremendous and only increasing, but the available resources to support our work is diminishing,” she said. “It’s highly competitive. There’s so much important work that’s getting conducted here in our community.”
Chieftain reporter Sara Wilson can be reached via email at SWilson@gannett.com or on Twitter @WilsonSaraJane.