A significant number of people in the City of Yuma – primarily low-income residents – would see potentially severe impacts should proposed cuts to the Community Development Block Grant program come to pass.
Housing programs, public facilities, public services, and specific areas such as the Mesa Heights Revitalization Area all receive support from the CDBG.
“The CDBG entitlement program allocates annual grants to larger cities and urban counties to develop viable communities by providing decent housing, a suitable living environment, and opportunities to expand economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons,” said Rhonda Lee-James, City of Yuma Neighborhood Services Manager.
“Each year, the City of Yuma, along with input from residents and stakeholders, determine how these funds can best be used in the categories of Housing, Public Facilities, Public Services and Economic Development. CDBG is an important tool for helping local governments tackle serious challenges facing their communities.”
The CDBG-funded Public Service programs – grants awarded to nonprofit organizations serving vulnerable populations – have assisted 12,504 Yuma residents, 98 percent of whom were low-income. Examples of these services include food boxes, GED and job training, housing counseling, foreclosure counseling, financial coaching, abuse counseling, domestic violence counseling and more. In one program, 14 homeless children were enrolled in ballet classes.
From 2011 through today, CDBG-funded housing rehabilitation programs assisted 160 units of affordable housing. These programs allow Yuma’s lowest income families to have a safe, sanitary place to live, without fear of becoming homeless because of structural problems that exceed their financial capability. In addition to home rehabilitation and repair, 11 new affordable rental units came online this year, with another 58 on the way through the Mesa Heights Neighborhood Revitalization program. And 13 families bought a home down-payment assistance through an Individual Development Account (IDA) program.
Public facilities made possible through CDBG include:
- Structural improvements to a shelter that offers housing and services to homeless veterans.
- A facility that offers emergency services and advocacy for abused children, victims of domestic violence and elder abuse.
- A safe house for victims of domestic violence.
- An adult literacy training center.
- Safety enhancements on the street near an elementary school, middle school and high school to divert motorists away from a pedestrian crossing.
- Improvements to the Yuma High neighborhood’s Marcus Park.
- A new roof for a group home that houses disabled adults.
- Air conditioning for the gymnasium at Joe Henry Optimist Center so that year-round programming can be offered for youth.
The City is concerned about the impact to the Mesa Heights Revitalization Area, where a number of activities are intended to boost one of Yuma’s oldest and poorest neighborhoods. Removing and replacing blighted structures, stabilizing and improving existing housing stock, and creating new affordable housing units are some of the activities the City has planned but could be jeopardized with cuts to CDBG.
And while no current area resident receives direct benefit from the Home Investment Partnerships Program (HOME), the City of Yuma has teamed up with Somerton, San Luis, Wellton and Yuma County to qualify for a HOME allocation. Elimination or serious cuts to the HOME program will negatively impact this countywide effort to address housing needs in this community.