August 02, 2013

CDBG funds

There have been alot of stories about the 6,000,000 in the newspaper this week.  Here is my take.

The NRSA, which I was involved in with the Chandler Buiness Group, was funded with CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) monies.  We found out that these monies are handed out by HUD (Housing and Urban Development) and that we could not spend the monies any way that we wanted.   The underlying project needed to meet what HUD called a National Objective and be an eligible use.  Here is a good link.

Every single thing we proposed to City of Worcesters employees (who are no longer there), they would basically say it did not qualify. One day we would be told that a project qualified and then three months later told it did not?  Every single thing except housing monies for their pet projects was met with resistance.   We would have to argue and fight and come up with reasons, why it qualified. We even met the HUD rep, Rick Potaski.  

After months and many many e-mails, we were finally able to get many of our projects approved:
  1. Facades
  2. Summer work crews
  3. Cameras
Remember even asking once if they could tell us some things that we could do that HUD would consider as being eligible.  We were told that was our job, not theirs?  It was extremely frustrating and not very user friendly.  In fact Paul and I drove to Somerville to meet people there who ran the same programs with the same CDBG monies monitored by HUD to get answers.  They were great! 

The part that I find amazing after reading these reports is why weren't these agencies held to the same standard as the Chandler NRSA?    The thing that is really too bad about this whole report is that the people, who were responsible for the mismanagement have all moved on.  The people remaining, who are doing a good job, fixing their mess and setting the right systems in place are left to answer these questions.   

I guess the silver lining here is that these past mistakes are not happening now.  Lets make sure this, however, this does not happen again and all people utilizing CDBG monies are held to the same standard.