Merced prepares HUD funding plan, allocates money to nonprofits

Merced’s Housing and Urban Development Annual Action Plan calls for about $1.83 million in housing and sidewalk rehabilitation, as well as funding for nonprofits.

The HUD plan describes how federal money will be spent by the city, including low- to moderate-income housing, the Continuum of Care 10-year Plan to End Homelessness and sidewalk improvements in south Merced, among many other projects.

The money must be used to meet a HUD-approved national objective. That means the activities must directly benefit low- and moderate income people, aid in prevention and elimination of slums or blight, or meet an urgent need, such as flood, hurricane or tornado cleanup and repair, said Mark Hamilton, a housing specialist for Merced.

The projects primarily focus on south Merced and the area around Loughborough Drive.

While much of the plan is determined by Merced’s low- and moderate-income housing needs, $50,000 was also available to local nonprofits. The Merced City Council was charged with distributing it to 10 nonprofits that made requests for more than $130,000.

The council decided to provide HUD funding to six of the 10 organizations.

For the last few years, and especially around budget season, the council is inundated with requests for money to help with youth programs. About a dozen parents, youth advocates and young people themselves pleaded for just that during Monday’s meeting.

The council agreed that the nonprofits that focused on youth should get priority. “Unfortunately, we can’t fund everything, and we say that every year,” Councilman Josh Pedrozo said. “This is one of the hardest decisions we make.”

The Isaiah Project, an after-school program, was awarded its request for $6,710. The nearly 2-year-old program is looking to add computers and tutoring to its offerings at Calvary Assembly of God at 1021 R St.

This was the program’s first attempt at funding through HUD. “We just want to make a difference in our community,” said Dee Dee Claunch, founder of the program.

The Merced Lao Family Community Inc.’s youth cultural activity program was awarded $8,132.

Another nonprofit that received funding was Healthy House, which provides services for low- and moderate-income families. The nonprofit, which has gotten funding from HUD in the past, plans to use the $4,000 it was awarded for its Ethnic Elders Transportation Program.

The service is aimed at elderly people from undeserved communities who do not speak English and have chronic health conditions, said Executive Director Candice Adam-Medefind .

She said the demand for the bus passes is great in Merced. “We always run out of passes,” she said. “We never meet the demand.”

The rest of the money went to three other nonprofits: the Center of Vision Enhancement’s job training for the vision impaired, $5,000; Potter’s Place job-skills training, $12,000; and Merced County Arts Council’s media arts program for disabled adults, $14,158.

The city must submit the plan to HUD by May 16.