Bayonne is accepting applications for its Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. Created in 1974, the program was started to help cities with more than 50,000 residents fund redevelopment projects.
The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). CDBG is a reimbursement program that awards funds to applicants that fit specific criteria within the community. For the city of Bayonne, the CDBG allocation for 2020 is approximately $1.4 million.
The city held its annual public hearing on community development on Jan. 9 at the council chambers in Bayonne City Hall.
The meeting was led by Samantha Howard, executive director of the Bayonne Economic Opportunity Foundation (BEOF). Mayor Jimmy Davis was scheduled to give opening remarks but couldn’t attend due to a meeting.
Director Howard said that the city partnered with consultant Triad Associates to ensure the city’s CDBG programs adhere to HUD regulations and compliance.
At the hearing, members of the public were invited to voice their opinions and offer input regarding the development of both the Five Year Consolidated Plan and the Annual Plan.
Members of the public addressed concerns, issues, and ideas regarding housing, community, and economic development needs, and commented on the development of proposed activities and the review of the program’s performance.
Melissa Walsh, a consultant from Triad, answered questions at the meeting regarding CDBG program guidelines and regulations.
“We’re happy to be a partner in making that excellence continue,” Walsh said, referring to Bayonne’s excellent standing with the CDBG program.
CDBG funding is eligible for applicants that meet one of the “Three National Objectives.” Activities funded by the program must benefit low-and moderate-income persons, prevent or eliminate slum or blight, or meet an urgent need.
Urgent need refers to emergencies like floods, hurricanes, or fires.
A number of activities are prohibited from receiving CDBG funding. They include political activities, direct income payments, and the purchase of equipment other than fire equipment.
The operation and maintenance of public facilities is also considered an ineligible activity. No general government expenses are permitted, including improvements, construction or repairs of any government buildings such as city hall, public works garages, and police stations.
The applicant must also fit the needs of the city’s five-year development plan, fit within the CDBG funds caps, and be within the city budget.
“Unless you’re asking for two or three dollars, no application will receive one hundred percent of the funds that they requested,” Howard said.
HUD also requires new services to be brought into the program, which can lead to new projects taking precedence over existing projects, according to Howard.
Public services can qualify for CDBG reimbursement. However, only 15 percent of the total $1.4 million grant can be allotted for these public services. Employment services, health services, education programs, child care programs, recreational services, and senior services are examples of potential services that qualify for the $210,000 made available from the CDBG grant.
To qualify for the funds in the grant each year, the Bayonne community must develop and submit a Consolidated Community Development Plan of all approved programs by May of each year.
Residents of Bayonne interested in applying but unable to attend can still inquire about their program and receive an application by contacting Samantha Howard at CDBG@baynj.org.
The city will hold its first CDBG think tank meeting on Thursday, Jan. 16. The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the Bayonne Museum at 229 Broadway, at 9th Street.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Dan Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.