DeSoto Town Hall Meetings On Fair Housing

DeSoto Fair Housing

DESOTO—The City of DeSoto will hold two Town Hall meetings on June 11 to obtain input from citizens regarding an upcoming Community Development Block Grant.

The morning meeting will be held at 10 a.m. at the DeSoto Senior Center. The evening meeting at 5 p.m. at the City Council Chambers at the Jim Baugh Government Center. The meetings are being held to encourage public comment regarding the housing and community development needs of the City of DeSoto.

Comments will assist in the preparation of the yearly plan created in order to obtain funds from the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The program begins October 1 and ends September 30 each year and the amount for 2018 – 2019 is $268,987.

Kathy Jones, Public Information Officer for the City of DeSoto said “The City of DeSoto has been applying for and receiving this grant for at least the last five years.”

Over the year funds have been used to upgrade infrastructure and reconstruct homes in low to moderate income areas. In recent years the money has also be used to fund an additional Code Enforcement Officer and to provide access to transportation for low to moderate income residents.

To this end, DeSoto has previously funded projects such as the Public Services Transportation Assistance Programs that provide eligible seniors and low to moderate income persons with a taxi cab fare card used to pay for transportation to essential services, the 2016 Williams/Gilbert Alley reconstruction project and an enhanced level of housing code enforcement in order to increase maintenance and preservation of housing and neighborhoods in low and moderate- income census tracts.

Ongoing Application Process

The meetings are a required part of the application process and are intended to give the public an opportunity to voice their opinion and suggestions for CDBG projects in DeSoto.
Following the Town Hall meetings the city will host a Citizen Commentary Period to invite comments on the draft of the action plan. The citizen commentary period will be from June 15 to July 16.

Donielle Suber, Assistant to the City Manager in DeSoto who is coordinating the project said the City of DeSoto is designated as an Entitlement Jurisdiction and therefore is able to participate in the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program. The city was designated a participating jurisdiction in 2014, and as a participant in the CDBG Program is required to prepare and submit the Annual Action Plan.

The Community Development Block Grant program was enacted through the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 and took effect in January 1975. In 1978, Congress instituted a formula distribution for determining the allocation to individual participating jurisdictions. A city’s proportion of the overall CDBG allocation is based on a number of factors including the average of the area’s fractions of the United States total population, total poverty, total amount of housing overcrowding, and total age of housing.

Other Opportunities To Weigh In

CDBG projects funded by the City of DeSoto must be consistent with broad national priorities benefiting low- and moderate-income people, the prevention or elimination of slums or blight, or other community development activities to address an urgent threat to health or safety. CDBG funds may be used for community development activities such as real estate acquisition, relocation, demolition, rehabilitation of housing and commercial buildings; construction of public infrastructure, facilities and improvements such as water, sewer, and other utilities, street paving, and sidewalks; and construction and maintenance of neighborhood centers, public services, and economic development and job creation/retention activities.

Before receiving the funds DeSoto is required to submit three performance and evaluation reports. Every five years the Annual Action Plan is submitted alongside a Consolidated five-year Strategic Plan that outlines the area’s long-term community development needs, priorities, and strategic plan.

Following the Town Hall meetings and citizen commentary period, the final 2018 – 2019 Annual Action Plan will be presented to the DeSoto City Council as part of a Public Hearing and final opportunity for public comments before consideration for approval during the Council Meeting on Tuesday, July 17, 2018.