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CDBG funds approved for removing barriers

By Kevin Elliott

Birmingham will spend $25,000 in federal grant money to remove barriers at the Birmingham Museum’s John West Hunter Park as part of the 2022-2023 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.

City commissioners at their meeting on Monday, December 6, unanimously approved a $36,912 allocation from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which administers the CDBG program. The program 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.

“Since the city has so few low income residents, the city is really restricted on what it can do with the remaining funds,” Birmingham Finance Director Mark Gerber said in a city memo. “The remaining funding is usually allocated to minor home repair and/or the removal of architectural barriers. The minor home repair activity provides funding for repairs to homes of low income residents that typically are less that $5,000 per repair. … This activity is also administered by an outside agency which is selected through a bid process when funding is allocated to this activity. The removal of architectural barriers activity provides funding to retrofit city property which was not ADA-compliant, such as bathrooms and entrances to public facilities.”

Federal requirements also mandate CDBG funds be spent in different categories, with a maximum of 30 percent spent on public services and no less than $3,500 per activity. Birmingham’s 2022-2023 CDBG funds will be divided among senior services ($3,500); yard services ($7,573) and the removal of barriers at the John West Hunter Park ($25,839) to provide barrier free parking, boardwalks and pathways overlooking the pond and Rouge River.

The city applied for CDBG funds in February 2021, and has been a participant in the program for more than 30 years. The city’s allocation for the 2022-2023 program is the same amount as the previous year.


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