Rent and utility assistance, after-school care among uses for Shawnee Community Development Block Grant funds in 2017


By Jerry LaMartina

The Shawnee City Council unanimously approved the city’s 2017 Community Development Block Grant funds report at its Monday night meeting.

Shawnee receives about $250,000 a year from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the program. For comparison, Overland Park gets about $750,000 and Johnson County gets about $1.3 million. Funding amounts are based mainly on population but also on the age of housing and the percentage of low- and moderate-income residents.

Unused funding from a given year can be carried over to the following year. Three types of activities are funded: human services, which can’t exceed 15 percent of total funding; infrastructure; and housing.

According to a memo dated Monday from Neighborhood Planner Lauren Grashoff to Interim City Manager Vicki Charlesworth, reimbursements from grant funds for human service providers totaled about $23,700 in 2017, which includes unused 2016 funds and comprises:

  • YMCA of Greater Kansas City provided after school care for seven families: $8,440.
  • Johnson County Parks and Recreation District provided scholarships for its summer day camp program for four families (seven children): $4,180 of $10,860 allocated.
  • The Salvation Army provided rent and utility emergency assistance to 72 low-income residents: $6,455.
  • Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas provided rent and utility assistance to 42 residents: $4,576.

Other expenditures include:

  • Street and storm water improvements on Barton Street between 66th Terrace and 67th Street: $205,350 of grant funds. The project directly served Shawnee Community Services and about 25 low- to moderate-income households.
  • A 2017 infrastructure project, which is scheduled for completion this year, involves street and storm water improvements on 59th Terrace between King and Barton streets. The project will serve about 75 low- to moderate-income households.
  • Johnson County Housing Services spent all its $25,000 allocation for 2016 and 2017 for the Minor Home Repair and Revitalization program for work on 12 homes.

Shawnee Planning Director Paul Chaffee gave a presentation on the 2017 report during the public hearing. Shawnee became eligible for the funds in 2003 because it met or exceeded the requirement of at least 50,000 residents, which qualified it as an “entitlement community” under the grant program, he said.

Ward 2 Councilman Eric Jenkins asked why some recipients carry over sizeable amounts of allocated funding from one year to the next. Chaffee said that the process is complicated by the city’s fiscal year, which starts in November; timing of HUD’s release of funds; and the requirement of a January report filed with HUD.

“We visit with recipients about not spending their funds and ask them to subsequently ask for less until they pay down the balance,” Chaffee said.