The annual Community Development Block Grant is meant to improve housing and services for low-income and/or homeless people and local officials are creating a list of priorities for the funds.
Planning officials held three public meetings in June to gather comments. Those included one in Marysville on June 4.
“The city of Marysville will be working with Snohomish County, the city of Everett and our local housing authorities on a consolidated plan that will guide us and give us direction on how to allocate the Community Development Block Grant,” said Amy Hess, associate planner with the city of Marysville.
Every five years cities and counties develop some goals and priorities for their communities with the money.
The next plan will start in July 2020.
“It’s a bit of a long process, which is why we’re getting started now,” said Hess.
The city receives around $350,000 each year, generally, from the federal program. Hess said that the formula can shift around depending on who is in charge of the federal government at the time.
Because Marysville and Everett have large enough populations they get to decide where to spend their funds, while the county allocates the remaining funds to the rest of the county.
Hess said they hope to target projects and programs that help low-income individuals, senior citizens, disabled people, veterans, and homeless or at-risk of homelessness individuals.
The majority of the money must go toward building, maintenance or capital projects.
“Only 15 percent can be used for services, the other funds go toward administering the program or the other projects,” said Rebecca McCrary, housing and community development program manager with the city of Everett.
Programs that the block grant has funded in the past include the minor home repair program.
“This program helps people repair everything from a leaky faucet to adding safety handles in showers. This allows low-income senior citizens and disabled individuals to retain their independence,” said Hess.
Recently the program also helped the Marysville Boys & Girls Club to replace their ceiling and heating system.
“The ceiling tiles were actually falling down while kids were playing in the gym,” said Hess.
“And they had to limit the programs in the winter to just the ones they could run in their small rooms with space heaters,” she said.
Direct housing projects have also been a part of the block grant in the past, such as one project from the Everett Housing Authority that is almost finished now.
“Clare’s Place is supportive housing for chronically homeless individuals and it will open up next year. The housing authority is providing the rental vouchers for the people who will live there,” said McCrary.
A new HopeWorks building in Everett was also supported by the block grant. The program will have job training on the ground floor with housing on top.
“Homeless or formerly homeless will live there and also go to school and learn a trade,” said McCrary.
Those who want to submit suggestions or comments about the program can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Snohomish County Human Services Department, M/S 305, 3000 Rockefeller Ave., Everett WA 98201.