May 25, 2019

Mallory Herrmann

The city council has approved an action plan for community development block grant (CDBG) funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The federal funds are allocated to communities nationwide to fund community development projects that support affordable housing, anti-poverty and infrastructure development.
As part of the CDBG process, cities must submit an action plan each year outlining how funding is expected to be spent in accordance with the program’s requirements. Every five years, cities must submit a consolidated plan that outlines a broader framework for the community’s development priorities.

Councilmember Rob Binney expressed concern about the resources that the city would have to commit to fulfilling HUD’s requirements in order to receive the grant funding for 2019–2020.

Councilmember Trish Carlyle disagreed, saying that the funds were essentially a pass-through from HUD to agencies like the Lee’s Summit Housing Authority. She said that the $160,000 to be spent on upgrades for public housing that supports some of the lowest-income residents in the community would be well spent.

“I feel like that’s a good investment, and it’s not our money,” Carlyle said. “Sometimes you have to put in a little bit to get a lot.”

Councilmember Phyllis Edson agreed, adding that the money, which is planned for bathroom upgrades, would be used to fund grab bars, universal design updates and other safety precautions.

“We’re not talking about steam showers here,” Edson said.

Separately, the city council’s community and economic development committee has been reviewing the proposed five-year consolidated plan. Mayor Bill Baird suggested that the council take some time at a future work session to further discuss the broader philosophy of how to work with the housing authority and other agencies on issues like public housing and affordable housing in Lee’s Summit.

But for the issue at hand, he hoped the council would show its support for the funding action plan.

“Hopefully this vote will be clear that we want to support this segment of our population,” Baird said.

The action plan was approved at their May 21 meeting. Binney voted no.