The process of obtaining a Community Development Block Grant from CDFA is streamlined compared to most federal programs. The process is designed to vet qualified recipients and it does take some time between application and available funding. Every CDBG project is different, but here is the usual timeline for completion.
Step 1: The municipality applies through GMS
An official from the city, town, or county (or their grant writer) will begin filling out the CDBG application online through GMS. Some of the documentation needed may include project descriptions & rationale, budgets (including sources and uses of funding), or information about any subgrantees or businesses. The municipality will also have to provide proof of meeting certain statutory requirements, such as public postings and hearings on the application, a HUD disclosure report, environmental review, and an up-to-date Housing and Community Development Plan.
Sounds complicated, right? CDFA offers application writing workshops twice a year to help out. Check our events page to look for an upcoming workshop. Can’t wait that long? Just give us a call and we’ll try to help with the red tape.
Step 2: Staff reviews the application
Once it’s in-house, CDFA staff will schedule a site visit, review the application, and score it based on a set of fixed criteria (such as area benefit or project impact). In order to be considered for funding, economic development projects must meet a minimum threshold score. All housing and public facilities applications are scored against one another, with the highest scorers receiving grants. If your application doesn’t score well, we’ll offer some suggestions on how to restructure your application to score higher (e.g. obtaining more matching funding, creating additional jobs for low- to moderate-income residents, etc.).
Step 3: Advisory Board review
CDFA staff reports its recommendations monthly to the CDBG Advisory Committee, an independent panel of nonelected municipal and community development officials. The Committee will vote the application up or down. Economic development applications and emergency applications are heard monthly (usually one month after a completed application is submitted) until all annual funds are exhausted. Housing and public facilities applications are heard twice a year during competitive rounds.
Step 4: Contracts are written
CDFA staff works with the NH Attorney General’s office and the Department of Administrative Services to draft all the necessary paperwork. Copies are sent to the municipality for review before being forwarded to the Executive Council. This process can take up to six weeks.
Step 5: G&C approval
Although it is federal money, the Governor and Executive Council must give final approve of the contract. Councilors may ask CDFA staff to explain components of the CDBG project or further discuss how it will benefit NH’s low- to moderate-income residents.
Step 6: Implementation and allocation
Now that CDBG funding is a part of your project, you’ll have some new responsibilities. CDFA staff holds a mandatory implementation workshop to make sure you’re doing everything Uncle Sam requires. Issues can include everything from proper signage, Davis-Bacon wages for construction workers, and outcomes reporting. Projects that fail to properly implement their requirements can have their funds encumbered until they’re back on track.
Once the project is awarded, the recipient can begin requesting reimbursement for any CDBG-related activities as outlined in their contract (e.g. purchasing building materials or necessary equipment, paying a grant consultant). As with many programs out of Washington, it’s not uncommon for HUD not to release its CDBG funds for the states until several months into the calendar year. Check with CDFA staff to see whether a cash-flow delay would affect your project.