Irvine OKs spending plan for grants

The city is in line to use most of the federal money for affordable housing projects, nonprofits.

April 30, 2011|By Amber Gonzales,

IRVINE — The City Council last week unanimously approved this year's proposed plan for how to spend $1.3 million in federal Community Development Block Grants (CDBG).

Most of the grant money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will go toward affordable housing projects, and the council even reallocated grants from the school district.

Although HUD has set a May 12 deadline for the city to submit its plan for how it will spend the money, the federal agency has not yet told the city how much money Irvine will receive in block grants. Grant allocations may change once HUD decides the exact amount the city will receive.


The Community Services Commission, which heard applicants for grants and made recommendations to the council, anticipated a 16% reduction in funds, according to the committee's report.

The council proposed three amendments to the plan. Of the 11 programs that will receive grants for the coming fiscal year, two regularly funded programs were denied: Jewish Family Service, which provides counseling and support for needy families, and Laura's House, a domestic violence shelter.

"Unfortunately, when it comes to domestic violence, we are no different than any other city," Mayor Pro Tem Beth Krom said.

Mayor Sukhee Kang proposed taking the $14,698 that was meant for Irvine Unified schools and splitting the money between the two nonprofits. That money would have gone to family case matters and council services, but Kang argued that the city has already given the school district more than $1.5 million in the past.

"This is the annual CDBG pleading, I guess," said Margie Wakerman of Families Forward at the public hearing. Families Forward received $21,862.

The other two changes, which Krom had proposed, involved putting money into the Jamboree Housing project. The project is expected to need $1.6 million, but was granted $408,359 through the plan.

Krom suggested moving the $109,000 allocated to the Irvine Community Land Trust toward the project.

Since the Trust would dole out funds to projects including Jamboree, the change would ensure that Jamboree got all the money, she said.

She also suggested that the council move $100,000 of the $217,000 meant for pool rehabilitation at University High School to Jamboree.

The amount going to pool rehabilitation would cover the installment of a lift for students with wheelchairs who cannot enter the pool without them. That part of the $800,000 pool rehab project was viable for a grant under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Councilman Larry Agran was all for removing the entire amount from the school.

"It's not a community-wide benefit," he said.

Councilman Jeffrey Lalloway disagreed. Upon questioning Laurie Ruiz, the district's assistant director of planning, he found that the school could complete the project with $100,000 less.

"I think we'd be ok with that," she said.

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