published Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

HUD praises Cleveland for grant use

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    Staff File Photo: Cleveland, Tenn., has received a HUD letter complimenting the Community Development Block Grant program. The federal grants go to metro areas to help low-income neighborhoods with housing and recreation. Cleveland has used the bulk of its CDBG grants in recent years to upgrade parks and streets in historically black East Cleveland.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- The program that focuses on housing and recreation needs in Cleveland's low-income neighborhoods got an end-of-the-year compliment from its funding agency, the federal government.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has completed its annual review of Cleveland's Community Development Block Grant program.

Mark Brezina, HUD field office director in Knoxville, congratulated the city and CDBG Director Teresa Torbett for working toward strategies outlined for the 2004-09 Consolidated Annual Action Plan.

Mr. Brezina's letter to city officials cited efforts to provide affordable housing, enhanced building codes enforcement, recreational needs and other goals, said Vice Mayor Avery Johnson.

"As I see the letter, we need to maintain, just keep on with our status quo," Mr. Johnson said.

CDBG funds are being used for a continuing improvement program at Northeast Recreation Center; a partnership with Habitat For Humanity, and to pay for an additional codes inspector just for the targeted area.

The city's 2009 CDBG grant was just more than $335,000, records show.

"During the 2008 program year, the city used consolidated planning funds (CDBG funds), as well as leveraged additional state, local, private and other federal funding to implement many worthwhile programs and projects and expended funds in a timely manner," according to Mr. Brezina's report.

Ms. Torbett said that 2009 marked the end of a five-year action program. She said the city has submitted a five-year plan for 2010-2014 to HUD.

Begun in 1974, CDBG is one of HUD's longest continuously run programs. Small cities compete for CDBG funds through state government.

Entitlement communities, mostly larger cities and urban counties, are allocated annual grants but must meet the goals of creating a suitable living environment in targeted neighborhoods.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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