Using GIS to Support Community Development Block Grants

Blog_UsingGIStoSupportCommunityDevelopmentBlockGrants.pngThe Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) is a federal block grant, a grant with only general provisions, which can be used to fund a variety of local community development projects. Des Plaines qualifies as an Entitlement Community meaning they are a larger city and they receive their own funding rather than having it administered at the state or county level. All program activities aim to benefit low and moderate income persons, prevent or eliminate blight, meet a need having particular urgency.

In order for CDBG funds to benefit low to moderate income persons the funds must be spent in census tracts where at least 51% of the beneficiaries must be low and moderate income. These census tracts are determined by HUD. There are instances when funds can be spent outside of the designated census tracts, but you much support your case and justify why the funds will serve their intended purpose.

Des Plaines has invested lots of CDBG funding in the South Central area of the city. A blighted area in the South Central area was identified as a priority to improve. The site was just outside of two low to moderate income tracts. Therefore the CDBG administrator needed to provide evidence to gain approval to use the funds. By utilizing GIS the administrator was able to provide HUD a map showing the location of past CDBG projects, qualifying census tracts, and housing density and their proximity to the potential project location. The map helped strengthen the City’s proposal and provided a clearer image of the project’s goals.