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Watsonville
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November 28, 2020

City using more than $320k for emergency housing assistance

WATSONVILLE—The Watsonville City Council on Tuesday approved several changes to its Community Development Block Grant funding plan from the previous fiscal year and accepted an early funding plan for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

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The amendments to the 2019-20 fiscal year were needed because the City received an additional $506,260 of CDBG funding thanks to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. That cash, however, can only be used to address the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic.

CDBG is a pool of federal funds provided to municipalities from the Housing and Urban Development department that are used to benefit low- and moderate-income housing, prevent and eliminate blight or address urgent community needs.

The City will use $320,947 for emergency housing assistance, and $160,000 for food distributions—$75,000 will go to the Second Harvest Food Bank and Meals on Wheels will receive $85,000. The rest ($25,313) will be used for administrative fees and planning.

Meals on Wheels Director Lisa Berkowitz said the program, which is a part of Community Bridges, has served more than 68,000 meals to 341 senior residences in Watsonville since the pandemic began. Community Bridges CEO Raymond Cancino added that the program has also has started serving breakfast to local seniors, arguably the most vulnerable population during the pandemic.

“The seniors depend on us to provide meals,” Berkowitz said.

It is the second time the City has received CDBG funds from the CARES Act. The first round of funding, a $443,984 disbursement, came in April. The City used that money to help the food bank, renters and businesses owners.

The council also approved the action plan for the 2020-21 fiscal year of CDBG funding. It will use its $859,617 of federal funding as follows:

  • Section 108 Loan Repayment – Civic Plaza Parking Structure: $153,683
  • Youth Center Staffing (15% cap; proposed amount is 15%): $133,859
  • Code Enforcement: $100,000
  • Program Administration (20% cap; proposed amount is 10%): $84,190
  • Micro/Small Business Assistance Program (El Pajaro CDC): $75,000
  • Fiber optic cable for Callahan Park: $45,000
  • Parklets Pilot Program: $65,000
  • Senior Center Kitchen ADA & Other Improvements Phase I: $150,000
  • Davis Ave. Park Basketball Court Resurface: $35,000
  • City Plaza New Waste Receptacle: $18,000

City Manager Matt Huffaker said the list of projects fell in line with the council’s recent requests to provide funding to the Parks and Community Services Department.

“I do think [the list is] reflective of feedback from the council,” he said.

The council will also approved the City’s 2020-2024 CDBG Consolidated Plan, a broad blueprint of issues the City plans to address with its CDBG funding over the next five years. The plan identifies affordable housing, economic development, public services and public facilities as its priorities.

Tony Nuñez
Tony Nuñez
Managing Editor Tony Nuñez is a longtime member of the Watsonville community who served as Sports Editor for five years before entering his current role in 2019. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College and San Jose State University alumnus, he covers the city, business, housing, entertainment and more.

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