Sherman is planning to spend the majority of its Community Development Block Grant funds on parks projects and the demolition of substandard structures in the city.
The Sherman City Council recently approved the city’s action plan for the CDBG Program funds for publication. This year, Sherman is set to receive $368,334 in CDBG funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to address the needs of the city’s low- to moderate-income citizens. This year’s CDBG allocation from HUD is more than $33,000 higher than the funds given to the city last year.
“A couple things we really want to focus on this year, being consistent with what we believe is council direction, is things that really impact the community when it comes to infill development and demolition of substandard structures,” Assistant City Manager Steve Ayers said. “We’re investing more funds toward that. We’re investing more funds toward park and public space improvement — things such as maybe making public buildings like Kidd-Key Auditorium handicap accessible, things like that that the money can be spent toward.”
The plan to be published by the city shows $183,000, which is just under 50 percent of the total CDBG funds to be received, will be used for park improvements in Sherman. Last year, the city put $180,000 of the funds toward owner-occupied housing rehabilitation. The housing repairs program assisted low- to moderate-income homeowners with bringing their properties up to code and was be limited to $5,000 per home.
“We have a little less focus on the individual home rehab,” Ayers said of this year’s plan. “Although we do have money still in our program for that, we have just shifted some of the emphasis more on public spaces and park improvements and substandard structures.”
Sherman is putting $100,000 toward its substandard structure program to demolish vacant buildings that don’t meet city standards and then clear the properties.
Program administration will use $51,034 from the grant to allow city staff to oversee the application processes, contract management and various duties related to the distribution of the funds. During the council meeting, Ayers introduced Community Development Coordinator Michelle Adams, who is taking over the oversight of the CDBG funds following the retirement of Theresa Caudle, who had handled it for many years.
“There’s a lot to this program and she’s doing a great job,” Ayers said of Adams.
The Sherman Housing Authority will receive $10,000 of the funds to address problems arising from drug abuse and associated crime in the city’s public housing areas. The Grayson Crisis Center will get $8,000 to help women and children, who have lived in the Sherman city limits, dealing with domestic violence. The Child & Family Guidance Center of Texoma will get $6,000 for counseling services related to substance, domestic and sexual abuse, among other services, and the Grayson County Shelter will get $5,500 to assist homeless families and individuals who once lived in Sherman. The Sherman Boys & Girls Club will receive the last $4,800 to help with scholarships for children of low- to moderate-income families living in Sherman.
The council approved the publication of the action plan after holding a public hearing on it, during which no one came forward to speak. The council’s approval was unanimous, though Deputy Mayor Pam Howeth was absent from the meeting.
“We will be looking at this a little more in detail at our budget workshop,” Ayers said of the council’s next budget planning session on June 14.
The action plan is put together by city staff in an effort to address the needs of public housing, homelessness, affordable housing and nonhousing community development activities. The $368,334 Sherman is set to receive next year is more than it has received from the CDBG program in the last decade. Before this year, the largest amount of funds Sherman received in that time period was the $351,141 allocated to the city in 2010.