Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

NLR poised to approve two plans that’ll keep federal funds flowing


North Little Rock officials created a new five-year plan that will allow them to access federal funding to complete several projects, such as drainage work and assistance for the elderly.

The North Little Rock City Council is set to vote today on a resolution to adopt the 2021-25 Consolidat­ed Plan and the 2021 Annual Action Plan.

The required plans let the city continue receiving money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Developmen­t.

The agency allocated $676,662 in Community Developmen­t Block Grant funds and $331,627 in HOME Investment Partnershi­ps funds to the city this year.

This year, the money will be used to assist the Boys and Girls Club in North Little Rock and CareLink, a nonprofit that assists the elderly, as well as three street drainage projects. The city also plans to build two or three energy-efficient homes for people with low incomes, said Donna Bryant, the city’s director of community developmen­t.

“We are currently looking for housing projects,” she said. We have identified a lot of potential lots. We are working with (Habitat for Humanity) to find lots that have been donated or inexpensiv­e to purchase.”

Through the last fiveyear plan, the city completed street and drainage projects and built several inexpensiv­e and energy-efficient homes. Some of the street projects can take years to complete because of the expense, Bryant said.

The city completed drainage and street projects on Marion Street and 50th Street last year with the help of HUD funding. It also built a home on Marion Street in collaborat­ion with Habitat and the Pulaski Neighborho­od Alliance.

“We are trying to be good stewards of the city’s finances and serve as many resources as we can within our limited funding,” Bryant said. “Grant programs like this allow us to be able to serve the community while

keeping within our budget.”

The plan is open for public comment and was published in the newspaper, she added.

The block grants are annual funds meant to be used by cities and counties to provide decent housing and suitable living environmen­ts for low- and moderate-income residents. HOME grants are used to fund a wide range of activities including building, buying or rehabilita­ting affordable housing for rent or home ownership for those with low income.

Bryant said the city’s fiveyear plan provides an opportunit­y for officials to assess needs and resources.

“We reach out to different nonprofits and organizati­ons within the city to figure out what the most important needs are and what resources we need to implement them,” she said. “It’s pretty much the framework for reaching our goals as a city.”

In February, HUD announced $5.5 billion in funding to local programs throughout the country that provide affordable housing, community developmen­t and economic opportunit­y, and support to individual­s and families experienci­ng homelessne­ss.

“This funding comes at a critical time for our country, when these bedrock programs have never been more important,” said James Arthur Jemison, principal deputy assistant secretary for community planning and developmen­t, in a news release.

The HUD funds that North Little Rock receives typically go to street and drainage projects along with building low-income housing.

“Municipali­ties tend to be stretched out when it comes to their tax dollars,” Bryant said. “We use these funds to improve our city.”

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