County Commissioners approve policy plan for affordable housing program funding

Eligible recipients can apply starting July 2

The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners recently approved the 2021 policy plan for the Community Development Block Grant and Home Investment Partnerships programs, which will devote Housing and Urban Development funds to affordable housing and public services, along with community and economic development.

According to Project Manager Bonnie Tufts, the plan includes funding priorities for the next Consolidated Plan period (2021-2025) and describes the overall management of each grant program, including the policies and regulations for grant-funded projects. The annual Coordinated Grant Application cycle will issue a Request For Proposal (RFP) for HOME funds and a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for CDBG funds.

The RFP, issued jointly with the City of Bremerton, will be for HOME funded affordable housing and include both city and county HOME funds, documents read. The joint RFP will prioritize county funds for rental housing in municipalities such as Poulsbo, Port Orchard, Bainbridge Island, and unincorporated Kitsap County. City of Bremerton HOME funds will be prioritized for both rental and homeownership housing within the city.

“For our programs, we focus on low-income households and then we look at it through the lens of demographics,” Block Grant Program Analyst Shannon Bauman said.

The estimated amount of HOME funds available is roughly $1.3 million, $1.1 million of which will be devoted to county projects. The request is for a minimum of two affordable housing projects in either Bremerton, Port Orchard, Poulsbo, Bainbridge Island, or unincorporated Kitsap County. In Tufts’ presentation to the county commissioners, high priority projects include construction or preservation of rental housing, while homebuyer assistance was considered low-priority.

The NOFA will be for eligible services, housing rehabilitation, microenterprise assistance, along with public infrastructure that meets the Consolidated Plan priorities. Pre-application appointments will be required for all capital projects and all new programs, according to documents. Estimated CDBG funds are slated at just over $1 million, according to Tufts. Applications open July 2 for both RFP for Home funds and NOFA for CDBG funds.

The priorities identified for the 5-year period are as follows:

• Preserve and increase affordable housing in Kitsap County through creation of new rental housing, rehabilitation of rental and homeowner housing and provision of homebuyer assistance such as downpayment assistance;

• Increased economic opportunities for low-income individuals with funding targeted towards projects that provide microenterprise assistance;

• Provision of support services serving children and youth, special needs populations and providing food assistance; and

• Provide essential public facilities & infrastructure projects linked to affordable housing, provision of high priority public services, or located in HUD designated Low-Mod Areas.

Eligible applicants include city or county governments, public and private nonprofit organizations, section 301(d) small business investment companies, local development corporations, faith-based organizations, etc.

Funds awarded for the Jan. 1 — December 31, 2021 program year will “likely” not be available until the summer of 2021.

“Timing is dependent on federal budget approval—which is often delayed—and how quickly HUD is then able to allocate funds to local jurisdictions,” the policy plan summary states. “The County will not execute contracts with organizations until we have a contract from HUD. Once contracts are executed, CDBG and HOME funds can only be disbursed on a reimbursement basis.”