With an unexpected infusion of federal Community Development Block Grant dollars, the Anoka County Board July 27 funded two additional projects and one public service agency.

At the time the Anoka County Housing and Redevelopment Authority approved the annual allocation of CDBG funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to benefit low- and moderate-income residents in March, a significant cut from the 2016 amount was anticipated.

Congress had not yet taken action on the CDBG budget for the program year than began July 1, 2017, but braced for a reduction, community development staff reduced the available CDBG funds for 2017 by 15 percent to $1.19 million, according to Karen Skepper, HRA executive director.

However, the county was the recipient of $268,447 more in CDBG dollars thanks to the legislation eventually passed by Congress, Skepper said.

“I have never seen a year like this,” she said.

With that extra money, the HRA at its June meeting authorized $100,000 for Hope Place, a new transitional housing facility in Coon Rapids, for exterior improvements, including landscaping, parking lot repairs and a sport court at its Coon Rapids Boulevard location, as well as money to purchase a van to transport youth living at Hope Place to jobs, the county workforce center and medical appointments.

Hope4Youth, an Anoka-based nonprofit to meet the needs of homeless youth, had not sought CDBG dollars in the annual application cycle at the beginning of the year, Skepper said.

That was affirmed July 27 when the County Board, following a public hearing at which no one spoke and a 14-day public comment which brought no responses, authorized the additional projects.

Besides the Hope Place funding, the city of Columbia Heights received $130,000 for its City of Peace Park and Recreation Center project, which initially got funding in 2016, through a combination of 2017 dollars as well as unallocated 2014 and 2015 CDBG money, according to Skepper.

“The bids for the project came in higher than anticipated and without the supplemental CDBG dollars it would have been able to go ahead,” Skepper said.

The center will serve an area of Columbia Heights that has a high density of people in poverty, she said.

Also funded was Nucleus Clinic, a Coon Rapids-based nonprofit clinic, specializing in reproductive and sexual health and education since 1971. It was next in line for public service agency dollars after missing out by a couple of points in the annual allocation process, according to Skepper.

The clinic was awarded $49,280 for its health services, specifically to add more part-time staff.

In addition, the county board action allocated the city of Coon Rapids, an entitlement community under HUD regulations because its population is over 60,000, an additional $40,826, which will give a funding boost to the city’s housing rehabilitation program, and the county will use $48,653 from the unanticipated money to administer the CDBG program.

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