Community Needs Hearing, Dec. 12

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

December 4, 2023

County Supervisors will hold a hearing to get the public’s input on how it should spend federal housing and community development grant monies next year.

The hearing is set for 9 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 12 at the Supervisors Chambers in the County Government Center, at 1055 Monterey St., San Luis Obispo.

“The purpose of the hearing,” reads a news release from County Social Services Department, “is to give the public an opportunity to express their views on both the needs of the community and the use of federal funds. The results of the Community Needs Assessment Survey will be presented during the hearing.” That online survey was done back in October and had just 166 respondents in a County with over 230,000 residents.

The so-called “Urban County of San Luis Obispo,” which includes all seven of the incorporated cities (including Morro Bay), and SLO County towns — receives federal grant monies under several programs, including the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG); the Home Investment Partnership Program (HOME); Home Investment Partnership Program American Rescue Plan (HOME-ARP); Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG); Permanent Local Housing Allocation (PLHA); Title 29 Funds; plus County General Funds. 

Such grant funds are meant to address housing and community development needs and are doled out annually on a per capita basis. 

“CDBG funds,” the release said, “can be used for housing, public facilities, and economic development activities that benefit low-income persons. HOME funds are used to support affordable housing projects for low-income families. ESG funds support homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, homelessness prevention, and rapid re-housing programs.”

According to the County Social Services’ website (see: www.slocounty.gov/communitydevelopment), Social Services works “in partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the County of San Luis Obispo uses federal funds to support and develop public services, affordable housing, and economic opportunities on the central coast. 

“These community development efforts are currently guided by the priorities set in the 2020-2024 Consolidated Plan. The Consolidated Plan, its concurrent Action Plans, and the related block grants are administered by the Homeless Services Division.”

In the current Action Plan, there are five basic areas the public said needed these grant monies — affordable housing; homelessness service; public services; economic development; and public facilities.

According to the Plan’s summary: “The overall goal of the Urban County’s community development programs is to encourage viable and sustainable communities by providing affordable housing, a suitable living environment, and expanded economic opportunities. The Consolidated Plan enables the Urban County of San Luis Obispo to examine the housing and community development needs of this community, and to develop programs that effectively utilize the resources available to address these needs and improve the quality of life for low- and moderate-income residents.”

In practical terms, the Consolidated Plan is a blueprint for how and where the County should spend these grant monies.

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