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Posted on: June 30, 2023

City to continue as part of county consortium for federal grant funds

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The Spokane Valley City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to continue participating in the Spokane County Urban Consortium that disperses Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), Home Investment Partnership (HOME), and Emergency Services Grant (ESG) funds attributable to the city, and will seek assurance from the county it won’t redirect the funds away Spokane Valley or the other 11 cities and towns that have historically benefited from annual grants without the approval of the participating cities and towns.

Councilmembers engaged in extensive discussions about possible options before electing to defer ethe city’s entitlement to take administrative control of the CDBG funds allocated by the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in favor of continuing to remain a part of the county consortium it has been a member of since 2005. In 2023, the city was entitled to approximately $606,000 CDBG and $403,000 HOME allocation from HUD, of which 20 percent was used to offset the County’s administrative costs. The City of Spokane Valley is entitled to about a third of all of HUD funds that come to the Spokane region. Combined with the county’s CDBG allocation from HUD, 17 grants totaling $1.8 million were awarded through the consortium.  

Uncertainty about the city’s decision to defer CDBG entitlement status for the next three years stems from a proposal to establish a regional homelessness authority in which participants are expected to commit all available federal, state and local funds related to affordable housing, homelessness and behavioral health. The proposal includes the CDBG, HOME, and ESG funds the Spokane County Urban Consortium receives from HUD. The Spokane Valley City Council recognizes the importance of pursuing regional homeless strategies, however the potential the county could divert HUD funds without the input of Spokane Valley to a regional authority that hasn’t yet identified outcomes-based solutions concerned councilmembers.

“The cost to fund a regional homelessness authority that hasn’t officially formed yet is unknown, and how the authority’s goals will align with the City of the Spokane Valley Homeless Action Plan are unclear,” said Mayor Pam Haley.

The decision to remain in the county consortium follows the city’s recent allocation of $4 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to address homelessness and affordable housing services in the Valley. “The city is demonstrating its commitment to a data-driven approach to serve local needs and objectives, including our emphasis on homelessness prevention and affordable housing,” Haley said.

Councilmember Arne Woodard pointed out the importance of preserving block grant funding to support infrastructure improvements like sidewalks, water and sewer projects in small communities, in addition to human services. “We need to move cautiously to not eliminate the one source of money that the small towns particularly have access to, or those infrastructure projects that they otherwise could not afford,” Woodard said. The Spokane County Urban County Consortium consists of the unincorporated areas and twelve cities/towns, including Airway Heights, Cheney, Deer Park, Fairfield, Latah, Medical Lake, Millwood, Liberty Lake, Rockford, Spangle, Spokane Valley and Waverly.

The city’s ongoing participation in the consortium also ensures Spokane County, other participating cities/towns and the region will continue to receive the portion of HOME funds attributable to Spokane Valley (approximately $400,000) and that Spokane County will continue to receive ESG funds (approximately $150,000) from HUD. These funds support critical services and infrastructure to house and provide assistance to low income and homeless individuals across the region. 

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