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OKC- On September 5, 2013, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce held a public input session to gather citizen comments on the proposed use of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds (the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), the HOME Investment Partnership (HOME), the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) program, and the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program.) These block grant funds are the most flexible resources available to Oklahoma to address infrastructure, community and economic development, homelessness, and housing. Thirteen individuals representing nonprofits and communities from across the State attended the session.

The Consolidated Plan is designed to help states assess their affordable housing and community development needs and market conditions, and to make data-driven, place-based investment decisions. The consolidated planning process serves as the framework for a community-wide dialogue to identify housing and community development priorities that align and focus funding from four block grants noted above.

A public hearing is scheduled for 1:00 p.m., October 7, 2013 at the Metro Technology Center, OKC Springlake Campus-Business Conference Center, Room J.  A draft plan will be posted online at www.OKcommerce.gov/funding approximately two (2) weeks prior to the public hearing. The purpose of the hearing is to engage the community, both in the process of developing and reviewing the proposed plan, and as partners and stakeholders in the implementation of block grant programs. By consulting and collaborating with other public and private entities, grantees can align and coordinate community development programs with a range of other plans, programs and resources to achieve greater impact.

Comments accepted via email or US Postal mail through November 7, 2013. Submit to OK Dept. of Commerce, Attn: Steven Hoover, Community Development, 900 N. Stiles Ave., OKC, OK 73104-3234 or email steven_hoover.

A summary of proposed activities for 2014 follows:

Community Development– Estimated funding at $13,497,021. Proposed activities include water, wastewater, economic development, other public facilities, planning and capacity building, community revitalization, small cities and CDBG REAP. Two changes are to increased Economic Development grant maximum to $1,000,000 and all towns/cities must submit an updated audit. Counties are exempt from the rule. Contact Scott Myers, phone (405) 815-5356, or email Scott_Myers@odoc.state.ok.us.

The State expects to receive approximately $10.6 million in CDBG Disaster Recovery funds. U.S. HUD has not published fund availability yet. Disaster Recovery grants can be used to rebuild the affected areas and provide crucial seed money to start the recovery process. Since CDBG Disaster Recovery assistance may fund a broad range of recovery activities, HUD can help communities and neighborhoods that otherwise might not recover due to limited resources.

Housing- HOME estimated funding at $6,000,000. Funds administered by the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency. Proposed funds distribution 10% to OK Housing Finance Agency for administration; 20% for Community Housing Development Organizations; 25% for Other Rental/Homeownership; 40% used for rental activities in conjunction with Low Income Housing Tax Credits; 5% for Community Housing Development Organization Operating assistance. Changes to the plan include 5 bonus points for projects in the nine disaster area counties eligible for individual assistance, remove set-asides for Tenant Based Rental Assistance and Continuum of Care. In the event OHFA is eligible for temporary increase to administration funding due to disaster, they intend to take funds from the Other Rental/Homeownership set aside. View powerpoint here http://sdrv.ms/183kk5W.  Contact Darcy Green, phone (405) 419-8145, or email darcy.green@ohfa.org.

Homeless-

Emergency Solutions Grant- Estimated funding $1,219,782. Funds allocated by Continuum of Care Region. Priorities emphasize rapid re-housing, broaden existing emergency shelter and homelessness prevention activities, help people quickly regain stability in permanent housing, enhance involvement and alignment of ESG regulations with other HUD programs, support more coordinated and effective data collection, performance measurement and program evaluation. Changes for 2014 included expanded authority of the Continuum of Care to create policies/procedures deciding dollar amount of grant awards and restrictions/requirements regarding scoring process. Additionally, several areas were clarified. View powerpoint here http://sdrv.ms/140EhuB. Contact Rebekah Zahn Pittser, (405) 815-5373, or email Rebekah_Zahn@odoc.state.ok.us.

HOPWA-Estimated funding level is just shy of $240,000. Distribution of funds mirrors the Ryan White CARE Act Program with 61 percent of funding going to Western Oklahoma and 39% into Eastern Oklahoma. OHFA Admin Fees is 3% and Project Sponsors receive 7%. Project Sponsors currently have a 5-year contact, which is renewable in 1 year increments that run through 2015. Project Sponsors are located in OKC and Tulsa and serve as hubs for rural clients. Project Sponsor in OKC is RAIN OK, located on North Penn in OKC and in Tulsa it is Tulsa CARES located on West Admiral in Tulsa, OK. Currently all eligible activities are funded under the program that relate to housing including long term rental assistance, short term rent and utility assistance, mortgage assistance. In addition, some funding for mental health counseling is provided. No plans on making programmatic changes. Two input sessions, one in Tulsa and one in OKC, were held. Contact Phil Elzo, phone (405) 419-8275, or email phil.elzo@ohfa.org.