Hearing set for $64,000 Maplewood grant; Trump budget recommends elimination

The city of Maplewood will hold a Public Hearing to discuss the allocation of $64,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. The hearing will be held at the  May 9 city council meeting, which begins at 7:30 p.m. In past years much of it has gone to the city’s home improvement grant program.

Update: According to the city’s notes for the meeting, President Trump has recommended in his proposed budget that community development block grants be eliminated. At this time, Congress has not begun to act on the budget.

The council is scheduled to discuss how to use the funds this year, and possibly take a vote. If the council is not ready to vote on it at Tuesday’s meeting it can be voted on at the next city council meeting.

See a map of the areas eligible for a block grant.

Any residents not able to make the council meeting who would like to comment on how to use the funds can submit a written comment to the city.

The CDBG is a program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which funds community development such as affordable housing, anti-poverty programs and infrastructure development.

How the funds ($64,000 each year) have been used in past years:

2016 — The city had $31,000 remaining from from 2015; an additional $64,000 will be available. City staff recommended that all of it be used for the home improvement grant program. Resident, Adelina Mart asked that the city use it to put in a trail through Kellogg park connecting the Metrolink station with the north side of Maplewood. She said people use a dirt path through the park. The council decided to use the funds for the housing program.

2015 — The city staff recommended that all $64,000 be designated for the home improvement grant program.

2014 — Thirty thousand of it was already allocated to the home improvement grant program. The council discussed that the remaining $34,000 could be used to irrigate Ryan Hummert Park (it’s now irrigated), sidewalk repair, putting selected utilities underground or other projects.

15 thoughts on “Hearing set for $64,000 Maplewood grant; Trump budget recommends elimination

  1. There are several houses that our in our area that are falling apart. Since the owners have moved in they have not done any type of improvement to their property and have not kept them up. They treat their homes like renters. Their grass grows tall, their gutters full, etc. The property has become an eyesore. Even with reporting to the City it is terrible how the property looks. They simple use the home as a place to sleep.

  2. To follow-up, maybe the city did one of the following…just not sure. Truth be told, I didn’t read the last Mapleleaf…maybe it was in there?

    Publish notice at least 10 calendar days in advance of the public hearing using at least one of the following methods:
    • Publish the notice of public hearing in a newspaper of general circulation;
    • Distribute a flyer advertising the public hearing to every household in the community;
    • Publish the notice of public hearing in a municipal newsletter or other publication that is delivered to every household in the community; or
    • Post a notice of public hearing at a minimum of three public sites within the jurisdiction. Please note the Countian may not be used for public hearing notices per HUD. The Notice of
    Public Hearing is on page 7 of this application and must be used in its entirety.

    • Hi Owen, If you click on the “public hearing” link you can see the public notice with the information that it was posted in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on April 26th, 2017. I agree that a notice posted in the paper is effectively no notice at all. I did not see any word about this hearing on the city’s facebook page or on the city website. I am signed up for every possible email alert from the city, and haven’t seen anything. I was in attendance at the last city council meeting, and there was no announcement. How were you made aware of this Doug? If we care about citizen engagement and transparency in our municipal government, we must do better than the bare minimum requirement when soliciting feedback from the community.

      • Jon-Erik, I found out about the hearing when one of the new council members sent me the the info, hoping to stir up some interest. At first I thought, nah, because it’s been a small item taken care of quickly usually without resident input in the past (other than Adelina’s idea last year). But I changed my mind and put it up – glad I did! Seems Maplewood is getting quite a lot of involved citizens lately!

  3. Announcing a public hearing on this less than a week before seems odd to me. I wasn’t able to attend the last city council meeting but did attend the one before it and it wasn’t brought up. I’m also on the city’s email list serve and didn’t get a notification; it’s not mentioned in news and announcements on the city’s website.

    So…does city leadership really want the public to weigh in?

    Thanks Doug!

  4. Putting the money in the home improvement grant program is a win win for all MW residents. As MW continues to become more desirable there will be a need to find ways of keeping diversity socio-economically. This program allows improvements to be made to homes that would not have them done otherwise which helps property values across the city. Although, I am glad people like Adelina are looking to come up with alternative uses.

    • Hi Joe, I agree with you that this is a great initiative, but I wonder if there is an opportunity to have a broader impact on the low income community. The majority of low income residents are in rental housing, and this would not be accessible to them. It also makes me wonder why half the money went unused last year. And, I believe there is cap of $5,000 per household, which doesn’t go far when it comes to home modifications.

      I found this resource on the STL County website that administers the Grant, which describes all of the allowable activities.
      http://www.stlouisco.com/Portals/8/docs/document%20library/planning/community%20development/Web%20Content/Forms/New%20Activity%20Description2016.pdf

      There are a lot of opportunities for a variety of programs to help low income, or elderly/disabled populations in Maplewood. A utility assistance fund, a local food bank, a low income homebuyer program to help residents locate permanently here, financial aid for children of low income families, help with medical costs, a veteran’s assistance fund. Not that the current program doesn’t serve a need, but as housing stock is being bought and flipped at a premium, we are going to see fewer and fewer low income home owners benefiting.

      • You bring up some good points. I agree that as a whole renters in MW tend to be lower SES (socioeconomic status) than those who own (granted some luxury apartments do exist and more are being built). But this generalization just emphasizes the need to help out those low SES who have been able to buy but are now struggling to get by month to month on their mortgage payment. And as you correctly state, the housing stock is being flipped more frequently. So to me that means there are going to be more lower SES home owners who just decide to move instead of stay in the community. I want those people in the community and I know you and others do as well. A lot of those funds you listed are necessary to help in everyday costs. But the major repair often gets put off because of the savings it requires. While the $5,000 cap does have its limitations, this program could mean the difference in doing that necessary repair and not falling behind on the payment.
        That being said, it is possible the program looks much better in theory than the reality of it. One of the first steps needs to be to use the funds and report how the funds have been used (which I hope to hear more on). This could be more of an issue with MW needing to be more proactive in letting citizens know funds are available rather than where the funds are going. It is nice to have a decent option on the table already. Looking forward to other ideas you have on May 9th.

        • My understanding is that funds were used in 2015 to irrigate one of the parks, but I could be mistaken. If this is true, I would say that irrigating a park is an inappropriate use of the funds.

          • I’ve noticed that the lower field at Ryan Hummert is irrigated, though I don’t know the when it was installed or any other circumstances.

  5. Does anyone have additional information on this home improvement grant program that our CDBG funds have been going to in the past?

      • So does this program help individual homeowners? A previous owner removed the corbels from my house, which was a stupid move because they functioned to support the overhanging part of the roof, which is now dipping. I need new corbels for the house, especially on the east and west sides of the house. This is something I can’t do myself.

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