Community speaks on development block grant at city council meeting


Long Beach community members voiced their opinions and suggestions regarding the city’s forthcoming Community Development Block Grant application to Nassau County at Tuesday’s council meeting.

The funds play a crucial role in supporting diverse community initiatives, including renovations to city community centers, improvements to parks and playgrounds, as well as the implementation of programs targeting youth and seniors.

Patricia Bourne, director of economic development and planning, and Tyler Huffman, community development program director, explored the details of the CDBG grant and how it could be used.

“The way the program works is, these are federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that funds into Nassau County,” Bourne said. “Then divide that up within the members of what they call the urban consortium, which Long Beach is a member. The application is based on a federal formula, and there are two basic national objectives, we want to benefit low- and moderate-income families. The other is to aid in the prevention or elimination of slums and blight, which is kind of like redevelopment, because slums and blight are really old words. But of course, the act the federal act is over 50 years old.”

Last year, the allocation totaled $330,000. Of that amount, 15 percent was used for administration costs, ensuring smooth operations. Another 20 percent was designated for public service programs, supporting city-run initiatives aimed at benefiting the youth and senior populations. The remaining 65 percent was allocated for public facility upgrades, specifically earmarked for enhancing the community centers, parks, and playgrounds to better serve residents.

Under the guidelines, if funds are used for senior or youth programs, for example, at least half of the participants must come from low- to moderate-income households. To ensure compliance, household income data will be collected up front.

Additionally, for public facility upgrades, projects must be located within low- to moderate-income census tracts of the city. This means specific areas will be prioritized for funding.

“Community development funds, the math and the lines are tricky sometimes in what we say is allowable for that money,” resident James Hodge said. “70 percent of its CDBG funding should be used for activities that benefit low to moderate income. I believe that the council should ask for a report on exactly what that money is spent for.”

Resident Crystal Lake highlighted the discrepancy between funding allocation and current demographics. In previous years, funding decisions were based on outdated census data, resulting in resources being directed towards areas that may no longer accurately represent the community’s needs. This has led to a significant decrease in available funds, from nearly $1 million annually to a much lower amount.

Lake emphasized the importance of updating funding criteria to reflect the current socio-economic landscape and suggested requesting housing funds for land acquisition, remediation and rehabilitation in low to moderate income areas. While approximately 14 areas within the city qualify based on specific data, Lake proposed a more inclusive approach to funding applications, advocating for initiatives like lotteries for home ownership and land acquisition.

This call for action says to aim to maximize opportunities for community benefit and address the evolving needs of Long Beach residents.

The city council encourages questions from both council members and the public regarding these guidelines. They are also seeking public input on what should be included in this year’s funding application. The deadline for submissions is March 18. Written comments can be emailed to The council says it will consider these comments when finalizing the application.