City sees reduction in HUD funding

PARKERSBURG – Sequestration cuts have reduced several housing assistance program budgets by 5 percent, and officials say more cuts may be on the way.

Ann Conageski, development director for the city of Parkersburg, said officials received guidance from HUD on the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program and the Home Investment Partnerships (HOME) program. The budgets were approved March 26 by the city’s Finance Committee and will come before Parkersburg City Council for approval later this month.

“This year we got a letter from HUD that because of the sequestration they are reducing everyone’s entitlement by 5 percent on average,” Conageski said.

The city’s CDBG budget dropped from $848,862 in 2012 to $808,918.90 this year, a reduction of $39,943.10. Likewise the HOME budget dropped from $333,625 to $318,19375, a reduction of $15,431.25.

CDBG money is often used for building rehabilitation, economic development and code enforcement. HOME is a consortium program with neighboring cities that allows for first-time homebuyer programs and bringing existing structures up to code. The program only benefits low-income people or families that are still living within a structure and is done primarily for safety reasons.

Both programs have numerous restrictions on how the funding can be spent and how the money must be accounted.

Conageski said this year’s reductions is not the first round of cuts in HUD funding. Last year the city’s CDBG budget dropped by nearly 16 percent, and HOME funding by 20 percent.

Officials also have warned additional cuts may be coming above the 5 percent reductions, she said.

Because of the funding cuts, Conageski said fewer projects will be funded. Those affected first will be aid to outside agencies, such as the area’s homeless and women’s shelters, which have in the past had facility work done through the HUD funds.

“We’ve been able to go into buildings and help make them ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant,” such as placing ramps and elevators to make buildings wheelchair accessible, she said. “This year we just won’t be able to do that.

“There is just not enough money,” Conageski said. “If we take the commitments we have, we don’t have the money to put toward anything else.”