The Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department (HCIDLA) held a public hearing on Wednesday, February 1st down on Vermont and 85th street. The purpose was to discuss how federal funds are being used by the city to help communities in Los Angeles. Here's what they shared...
Five Years Later
The speaker pointed out that HCIDLA was now in its 5th year of its 5-year program. This program has had four main objectives to help improve conditions. These are:
- The Community Development Block Grant
- Home Investment Partnerships Program
- Emergency Solutions Grant
- Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS
How the Numbers Look
The first topic was HCIDLA's budget for the coming year, which was $123,500,000. This is up about 3% from last year, which was $120,500,000.
The speaker discussed how funding for HCIDLA has changed over the years and how it has been divided up. Most of its funding comes from Entitlement, or funding through grants. Funding from grants has decreased across the board. All contributing grants have become smaller over the years except for two of the smaller grants. The difference has been increasingly been made up their other sources of funding, such as savings from prior years and their own resource generation, which has managed to keep the total budget increasing. However, if considering that this year sees just a 3% increase in HCIDLA's budget, it looks like the budget is struggling to keep up with inflation.
Sharing the Budget Love
There are numerous categories where HCIDLA has been using it's funding. These include public services, economic development, housing related programs, neighborhood improvements, and administration/planning. The most costly beast for them to tackle is housing, which takes up about half of the total budget. Last year, housing related programs used up over 60 million of the total 120.5 million budget, or 49%.
It's worth noting that this year, HCIDLA is limiting spending in the public services category to 15% of its budget -- about 9.4 million.
The way funding is determined is by the submission of applications. Last year, the city received 94 new applications for funding, and HCIDLA reviews them for eligibility through the following criteria:
- project readiness - how close a project is to needing additional funding in its current stage
- alignment with current goals - whether the proposed project is in line with HCIDLA's and the city's priorities and mission
- community input - whether the project would help with concerns voiced in the community, or cause more concerns
The Mayor's Role
HCIDLA works closely with the city, and part of what it takes to be the mayor of Los Angeles is to come up with a proposal for neighborhood improvements that HCIDLA helps pay for. This proposal is first drafted by the mayor. This year's draft has been released after a series of public hearings to discuss it over last Fall. The Chief Legislative Analyst analyzes the plan and creates a report. The draft and report are looked over by the Housing Committee, the full council, and the mayor once more for final review.
We know that two of the mayor Garcetti's priorities are facility and park improvements, for which he has proposed a budget of over 6 million and 7 million respectively.
Hopefully you know more about what our Housing and Community Investment Department is up to, and perhaps have a better understanding of how it operates. One thing that the speaker emphasized is the importance of attendance to public hearings like the one described here. There are surveys handed out to assess needs in various neighborhoods, comment cards to be sent in for consideration, and an open Q&A. The speaker made it clear that a large part of HCIDLA's direction must come from citizen participation, so get involved and attend your neighborhood's next HCIDLA event!