Community grants have made College Station better
By David Brower, Community Development Analyst
Since 2011, College Station has received about $7.2 million in federal community development grants. As part of National Community Development Week, it’s informative and enlightening to look at the positive impact these funds have had on our city.
Our Community Services Department coordinates with other city departments, social service agencies, businesses and other governmental entities to ensure the grants are used in the most effective way to address our most pressing needs.
What’s been done?
Here’s a brief snapshot of what we’ve achieved in the last five years:
- CDBG funds have resulted in improved water and sewer lines, streets, sidewalks, and flood drains. These projects spur economic development and contribute to public health and safety.
- CDBG funds have helped improve or expand parks in areas with mostly low and moderate-income residents.
- Thanks to CDBG and HOME funds, four owner-occupied homes were rehabilitated and made safer and more energy efficient.
- HOME funds helped replace two substandard owner-occupied homes.
- CDBG funds helped maintain and enhance neighborhood integrity and housing conditions through educational outreach and code enforcement.
- HOME funds helped 25 families experience the American dream of buying a home through down payment assistance loans.
- Through homebuyer education classes and one-on-one meetings, we’ve helped 335 citizens learn about budgeting, credit, financing and all other aspects buying a home.
- CDBG and HOME funds have helped us partner with nonprofits such as Habitat for Humanity and Brazos Valley Community Action Agency to build 14 new owner-occupied homes for families.
- With HOME funds, we’ve provided 319 security deposits to secure housing for those moving into affordable rental housing.
- We’ve participated in 63 community coalitions and collaborative efforts, recognizing that the greatest impact comes from working with various groups to determine the best use of grant funds.
- CDBG funds have helped 12,757 people access various social services, including emergency shelters, special needs, health care, abuse counseling and prevention, and affordable child care and youth programs.
This slideshow illustrates some of the specific projects that resulted from recent community development grants:
Without these grants, many of the improvements wouldn’t have happened.
Much work remains
While we’ve made substantial progress toward eliminating blight and helping low and moderate-income families, much work remains:
- Existing transportation options are inflexible, infrequent, or unaffordable.
- Social service agencies lack the resources to meet the growing demand for emergency shelters, prevention of abuse and neglect, preventative health care, and financial education.
- We need well-paying jobs that don’t require an advanced degree.
- Affordable housing is limited and difficult to obtain.
The cost of housing has increased drastically over the last decade and supply hasn’t kept pace with demand. Single-family rentals by college students has had a pronounced impact on real estate prices and has resulted in fewer affordable options for seniors and many families.
For example, many families can’t afford the average rent for a unit with more than two bedrooms, and elderly residents on fixed incomes are frequently faced with long waiting lists for affordable rental properties.
Continued support of CDBG and HOME funds will help us continue to address these and other pressing issues in a collaborative way that benefits our entire community.
David Brower has been a community development analyst for the City of College Station since 2008. He is a 2008 graduate of Texas A&M.
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