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Austin to get $2 million extra in federal block grants

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 by Austin Monitor

Congressman Lloyd Doggett has announced that the City of Austin will be receiving $2 million in Community Development Block Grants (CBDG) as part of the federal stimulus package.


Doggett’s spokesperson, Wyeth Ruthven, told In Fact Daily on Monday that the “$2 million is in addition to what the city normally would get.” The City of Austin normally receives about $13 million annually in federal funding for the Home Investment Partnerships Program (HOME), an emergency shelter grant program, CDBG and housing for persons with AIDS.  Rebecca Giello of the Housing and Community Development Department said that “over the course of the past five years, we’ve received roughly $69 million, including public service dollars administered by the city Health Department.”


As of Monday afternoon, the city had not been notified. However, Governmental Relations Officer John Hrncir said that was typical. “It’s not unusual for the federal departments to notify the Congressional offices first when they’ve made a determination of grant awards,” he said. Hrncir said the city has an ordinance that requires CDBG money to spent on just a few types of programs: jobs, job training, housing, or health care for low income residents. He said that is unlikely to change, although the Council has the power to change its own ordinances.


Hrncir said the Federal Aviation Administration has told officials at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport that there could be stimulus funding for items the airport was already seeking to do, including expansions to aprons and taxiways.


Austin is considering how to use CBDG money for 2009-2014. The City Council will hold a public hearing on a consolidated plan for the housing/community development funds on March 5. Although this is not the last word on stimulus money, don’t hold your breath on the Frisbee golf course.

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