Print Council hands out federal grants
Written by Greg Ruland   
Wednesday, 24 November 2010 00:00

During a special session Nov. 16, Cottonwood City Council eyed two local nonprofits and two public street projects as possible recipients of Community Development Block Grants, federal funds distributed annually to the city which must be used to benefit people with low to moderate incomes.

Although the amount of grants made available to the city in 2011 is not yet certain, Cottonwood has received as much as $514,000 in the past for projects like constructing low-income housing or refurbishing headquarters for community service organizations such as Old Town Mission and Verde Valley Senior Center.

Several public hearings are required before council votes on how to distribute the CDBG funds, according to Long Range Planner Charles Scully.

Scully told council Kelly Byrd, branch director of Cottonwood Boys & Girls Club who could not attend, was interested in grant money to create and support various programs that benefit low-income children.

Carol Quasula, site director for Verde Valley Catholic Charities told council she was hoping for grant funds to upgrade and expand office space at the Catholic Charities building on North Main Street.

Community Development Director George Gehlert suggested grant money could be spent to realign the intersection of 10th and Main streets as part of a 10th Street redevelopment project that would upgrade the thoroughfare between Main Street and Mingus Avenue.

Council also showed an interest in the redevelopment of Fourth Street in Old Town.

Community Development Block Grants are made available by the federal government on a four-year rotation among small cities and towns. The grants may be used for a variety of purposes within certain guidelines.

Preferences for CDBG grants rotate to Cottonwood next year, Scully reported.

Federal rules control federal grant money offered to cities like Cottonwood. To qualify, any project suggested for CDBG spending must satisfy federal goals.

Grant money must either be spent to benefit low- to moderate-income residents, prevent slums or satisfy an urgent need.

Projects to build housing, remove architectural barriers, improve public works or public safety, foster economic development or improve social services would normally qualify.

Projects considered priorities by the Department of Housing and Urban Development would receive preferred consideration.
HUD priorities include housing rehabilitation, rental rehabilitation, street and sidewalk improvements and historic preservation.
Cottonwood Area Transit, Verde Valley Senior Center, Verde Valley Sanctuary and Verde Valley Chapter of Catholic Charities would all qualify as organizations eligible to receive CDBG money, Scully reported.

City Council must prioritize CDBG applications in January, approve applications in February and submit them to the Northern Arizona Council of Governments in March.

NACOG must approve and forward grant applications to Arizona Department of Housing in April.

Following a HUD review, the Arizona Department of Housing makes grant awards in July.