FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
A change in the way the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) calculates a timeliness ratio (what it means to use grant money in a timely manner) last year, required the City’s Planning and Development Department to reallocate a portion of the HUD funds the City uses to run a commercial loan program. The loan program was started with HUD Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) funds and has made more than 230 small-business and facade-improvement loans over the years.
The result has been a flurry of projects, benefitting Springfield’s neighborhoods, including parks, sidewalk and infrastructure improvements. The City’s Planning Department and HUD provided the funds to key projects including: more than $1 million in playground and trail improvements, a $300,000 loan to Eden Village (tiny homes for the homeless), and a $1 million loan to Community Partnership of the Ozarks for the acquisition and rehabilitation of the former Pepperdine Elementary School to house the Springfield Affordable Housing Center and One Door (one-stop shop for services for the homeless).
On June 12, 2017, City Council approved a plan which outlined the list of "shovel-ready" priority projects. The projects were selected using HUD’s strict criteria that includes meeting national objectives for the program, including benefiting low-to-moderate income people and eliminating slum and blight. Funding went to high-impact and/or transformational projects that geographically dispersed.
Public Infrastructure $2.4 million
Commercial Loans $1.4 million
Affordable Housing Loans $1.9 million
Total $5.7 million
While the City did not meet an initial May 17, 2018 deadline, HUD staff determined that the City of Springfield qualifies for an exception to the timely expenditure requirements, after meeting the timeliness ratio on July 11, 2018 for the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG).
Site control issues and regulatory delays, along with the unusual extreme weather conditions Springfield experienced this last winter, contributed to the ratio not being hit by the initial deadline, but HUD defined those as “circumstances that contributed to the factors beyond the city’s reasonable control in meeting the timeliness standard.” In addition, the City, with the help of HUD technical assistance, has taken a number of steps to control the balances of its revolving loan funds (RLFs), particularly its Commercial Loan Program fund, and has reprogrammed RLF dollars for other activities.
At stake was a potential reduction in the FY2018 Federal CDBG funds. But, HUD officials wrote, “Based on the sum of those factors and the City’s response to them, HUD has determined that Springfield qualifies for an exemption to the timely expenditure requirement and the City’s FY2018 grant will not be reduced.”
Key Project Highlights for HUD Money Spend Down:
College Street between Grant and Market Avenues
Streetscape improvements included $1.2 million ($800,000 in HUD funds) in new federal Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant sidewalks, stormwater and roadway improvements, tree wells, lighting enhancements and utility upgrades.
More than $1 million dollars in park improvements have been implemented at five neighborhood park sites, including: Tom Watkins, Nichols, Meador, Jenny Lincoln and Cooper Parks This process included major playground rehabilitation for four sites (Watkins, Nichols, Meador and Cooper) along with new walking trails at three sites (Watkins, Nichols and Meador). A new restroom facility at Tom Watkins Park was also a critical improvement that had been requested by neighborhood residents for several years.
Affordable Housing Center
The HUD grant provided $1 million loan (an amount later matched by Springfield’s philanthropic O’Reilly family) to turn the former Pepperdine Elementary School into a new home for Springfield’s Affordable Housing Center. The O’Reilly Center for Hope, as the former school will be known, will become a community-centered hub for affordable housing, homeless prevention services and education.
College Street Streetscape (Street and sidewalks)
Eden Village (Street and water line/fire hydrants)
Meador Park Improvements (Playground improvements and walking trail)
Nichols Park Improvements (Playground improvements and walking trail)
Tom Watkins Park Improvements (Playground improvements, walking trail and new restrooms)
Trail connection improvement (Cruse Dog Park to Ewing Park)
1600 block of E. Central Avenue
Commercial Street (Pacific to Missouri)
Grand Street (Park Ave to West Avenue)
Jefferson Avenue (Kearney to Turner)
Turner Street (Benton to Robberson)
Kansas Expressway (Talmage to Kearney)
1300 block of N. West Avenue
Acquisition of former Pepperdine School to house the Springfield Affordable Housing Center
Rehabilitation work on Pepperdine School/Springfield Affordable Housing Center
Cooper Park Improvements (Playground improvements)
Jenny Lincoln Park Improvements (New picnic tables, park benches)
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Media Contact: Cora Scott, Director of Public Information & Civic Engagement, 417-864-1009 or [email protected].