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CDBG funds allocated for museum, park updates

By Grace Lovins

Following city commission approval on Monday, December 19, Birmingham will reprogram the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds received in 2019 from being used to remove architectural barriers at the Adams Fire Station entrance to remove architectural barriers from Birmingham Historical Museum’s John West Hunter Park for barrier free access, achieving ADA-compliance.

Commissioners voted unanimously to reprogram the $25,263 from the 2019 CDBG funds, allocated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), to the Historical Museum Park Barrier-free Access Project which would ultimately help the park become ADA-compliant. Birmingham has been a participant in the program for roughly 30 years, which provides funds to low-income households and people with special needs. Low-income is defined by HUD based on the area median income, or AMI. In 2020, a low-income resident is $44,000 annual income or less for a single-income home, and $50,250 for two-income homes.

Finance Director Mark Gerber noted that the city is limited in what it can do with the CDBG funds due to the city’s small low-income population – they are able to and typically try to use the money for yard services for seniors, other senior services and architectural barrier removal. While the funds were originally programmed for architectural barrier removal from the Adams Fire Station entrance doors, Gerber explained that the museum park project would be a more appropriate use of the funds.

“Initially, when we did this program year we were looking and trying to find something to do with these funds and one of the suggestions was to make the Adams Fire Station entrance door ADA-compatible. Then COVID-19 hit, and we had some change of staff that dealt with the city’s buildings, so we never got going on those,” Gerber said. “As we progressed on to this year, we allocated a portion of last year’s funding for ADA-accessibility to the museum in terms of the park area behind the museum. The cost of that was going to be greater than what we had funding for so we thought this would probably be a more appropriate use of these funds.”

The commission additionally voted unanimously to approve the 2023-2024 CDBG application, allocating $12,500 for yard services, $3,500 for senior services and almost $21,000 for the Historical Museum Park Barrier-free Access project, reaching a total fund allocation of $36,912. Gerber noted that while usually the funds for public services are capped at 30 percent, this year the city could apply to receive an additional $5,000 for services from Oakland County.

After talking with NEXT director Cris Braun, Gerber explained, she stated that additional funds could definitely be used if the additional funding could be secured. While the additional funds aren’t guaranteed, the city will be applying for an override since public services were allocated 30 percent or less.


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