By Theresa-Marie Wilson
The City of Grover Beach has extra funds in its coffers after receiving a $2.6 million Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the California Department of Housing and Community Development for waterline replacement, housing assistance funding, and a senior center feasibility study.
“I would commend the council in its leadership in seeking competitive CBDG funding,” said City Manager Matt Bronson. “Our track record of receiving over $4 million in five years speaks to our results in serving the community.”
Grover Beach was one of the only cities in the state to receive at least $2.5 million and also received $1.8 million in CDBG funding in 2013 primarily for water line replacement.
Additionally, Grover Beach is the only city in the county that participates in the CDBG “non‐entitlement” program that allows the city to apply for competitive grants rather than receive a set allocation of approximately $75,000.
“We felt that we had a compelling story to be competitive with the non-entitlement funding,” Bronson said. “Given the socio-economic demographics of parts of our community and our ability to deliver on these projects, the council felt that it was worth it to seek the competitive non-entitlement funding. I believe the results speak for themselves. Since 2013, when we received the first grant application, we would have received roughly $375,000, $75,000 annually as part of the entitlement program. In contrast we are receiving $4.3 million.”
The City was awarded the $2.6 million for the following three activities:
- Public Services ($500,000) – This will fund two programs administered by the 5Cities Homeless Coalition (5CHC) that include $410,000 for subsistence payments (eviction prevention) and $90,000 for security deposits (rapid rehousing).
Last year the 5CHC had done a similar pilot with the city for $80,000 that proved to be successful.
“We were able to work with people and provides some financial assistance to help stabilize them in their housing,” said Janna Nichols, 5Cities Homeless Coalition executive director. “Then we worked with them on budgeting and financial literacy — addressing whatever the issues were that had them on the edge.”
A financial spiral can come from relying on credit cards to pay for basic needs such as food or utilities. Another big problem is utilizing cash advance services that often charge exorbitant interest rates.
“We often find that they have bad credit or they have gotten themselves into some credit hole, and they just can’t out of it,” said Nichols. “This grant not only allows us to provide some stabilizing financial assistance, but also gives us the capacity to work with our case managers to really address the root causes of why they are in that situation.”
The city has executed the necessary contracts with the Department of Housing and Community Development and anticipates being able to begin expending funds by the end of the calendar year. Once the city has received final approval, the 5Cities Homeless Coalition can use the funds for housing assistance.
“It is going to do a lot of good,” said Nichols, whose organization does similar program countywide through an Emergency Solutions Grant. “We have been doing this program for several years; it’s kind of what we cut our teeth on. We have a good track record. We are really excited. We know what we need to do, and it will really enhance our ability to help folks.”
With the help of a case working and financial education, about 96% of the people 5CHC has housed or helped stay housed have stayed in their homes.
- Public Improvements ($2,000,000) ‐ This will fund the installation of approximately 2,100 lineal feet of waterlines and water system components that service residential areas in an area of the city bounded by West Grand Avenue, South Oak Park Boulevard, Mentone Avenue, and South 10th Street.
“This will ensure that we have new equipment to provide more continuous and better maintained systems,” said Bronson. “It will prevent future water shutdowns and just give us modern infrastructure. In many areas of the city, we still have waterlines that are decades if not 50 years old. The longer we have the waterlines, the more susceptible they are to breaking. Once a waterline breaks it can be very difficult and expensive to replace it.”
- Planning & Technical Assistance ($100,000) – This will fund a senior center feasibility study to analyze potential sites and develop a conceptual plan with preliminary construction estimates.
“The city council has long been interested in considering a senior center within Grover Beach, said Bronson. “The interest is to have such a facility that would reflect the needs of not just Grover Beach but the surrounding Five Cities area and have it be a key community facility.”
The city will now request proposals for the design of the water project and the consultant to prepare the senior center feasibility study.