The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) distributes Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to cities, having a population of 50,000 or more, to help them address a wide range of housing and community development needs of low income residents. The amount of the CDBG allocation is determined by one of two formulas based on either: (1) age of housing, extent of poverty, and growth lag, or (2) population, poverty, and the extent of housing over-crowding. The City of Stamford receives approximately $1,100,000 in CDBG funds annually.
HUD’s primary objective for the CDBG program is "the development of viable urban communities by providing decent housing, a suitable living environment, and expanding economic opportunities principally for persons of low income." The five major areas in which CDBG funds may be used are: affordable housing, public improvements, economic development, public services and planning/administration.
While HUD recognizes that the localities know their community development needs better than it does, HUD emphasizes community involvement in the determination of local needs and the allocation of CDBG funds to projects and programs. Stamford’s form of government provides for the division of the City into 20 districts with an average of 2,700 voters each. The voters of each district elect two representatives to the Board of Representatives. As a result, each Representative is in touch with and is responsive to the small population of their neighborhood/district.
The Housing-Community Development-Social Services Committee (HCD-SS) of the Board of Representatives, in cooperation with the Mayor, is charged by ordinance with carrying out the citizen participation process, determining community needs and recommending CDBG allocations to projects and programs to be carried out by many local organizations.
In December of each year, a legal notice announces the beginning of the process to consider the needs of Stamford and solicit proposed uses of the anticipated CDBG funds. The notice also announces the deadline for submitting applications for CDBG funds and the date of the public hearing. Non-profit agencies and individuals who ask to be on the Stamford Community Development email list receive an emailed notice of the availability of CDBG funds. The HCD-SS Committee holds its first public hearing in late January to allow the not-for-profit and city agencies an opportunity to present their requests. In February the HCD-SS Committee reviews the requests and recommends grant awards. Simultaneously, the Mayor submits his funding recommendations to the Committee. The Committee then meets to coordinate the two recommendations. Once the Mayor and HCD-SS Committee and the Mayor come to an agreement on a proposed budget, a legal notice announces the availability of the proposed budget and the date for a second public hearing that is held by the HCD-SS Committee in March.
In addition to the CDBG funding, the HCD-SS Committee also approves the HOME program budget. The HOME program is a federal program designed to increase the supply of safe affordable housing. Stamford’s HOME Program provides funding to income-eligible households for down payment and closing costs to purchase a home as well as funding to developers (both for-profit and non-profit) for the creation and rehabilitation of affordable rental housing and new affordable owner-occupied housing.
The proposed budget for the Annual Action Plan for the use of CDBG and HOME funding is then transmitted by the Mayor to the Board of Finance for approval in April.
Thereafter, the proposed CDBG/HOME budget is presented by the HCD-SS Committee to the full Board of Representatives for its approval in May.