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CDBG funds add value in Shoreline, Wash.

Shoreline, Wash., is a city of 54,000 residents just outside of Seattle that strives to maintain a high quality community life. According to a 2010 citizen satisfaction survey, 95 percent of respondents rated Shoreline as "an excellent or good place to live" and 84 percent "felt their quality of life had improved or stayed the same since they moved" to the area.

Notwithstanding such positive reviews, Shoreline's local elected officials still grapple with the difficult funding decisions that are necessary to sustain their city budget, especially in the current economy.

"Revenue declines during the recession combined with tax limitation measures meant that we had to use reserves and had to make cuts to balance the 2009 and 2010 budgets," explained Shoreline Mayor Keith McGlashan. "In the fall of 2010 the city council asked voters to pass an additional tax levy to preserve current service levels. This levy passed with 56.8 percent."

As a former small business owner and 30-year resident, Mayor McGlashan relies on the added value that the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program brings to his community.

"CDBG is one of the most effective federal programs in our community," he wrote to NLC.

With federal funding for local programs like CDBG currently at risk, McGlashan hopes Washington Sen. Patty Murray (D), long a supporter of the CDBG program and chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, will have support in the Senate to maintain current funding for the CDBG program.

McGlashan emphasized the key role of CDBG in Shoreline's strategy to address a growing need for affordable rental housing for low-income residents, especially senior citizens. The city council allocated CDBG dollars to upgrade four separate rental properties containing 270 units.

In partnership with the King County Housing Authority, the city also upgraded a dilapidated 60-unit Housing and Urban Development-assisted building for low-income seniors to bring the building up to current standards.

"Without CDBG, Shordine's affordable housing efforts would not have borne fruit," said the mayor. "We use CDBG to assist in the acquisition and preservation of housing and to fund home repair programs that keep people in their own homes longer and housing stock in better shape."

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Additionally, the city utilized CDBG funding to improve its deteriorating sidewalk system, which was built more than 40 years ago along several major roadways. The city replaced 27,300 square feet of cracked sidewalks with 82 handicap-accessible curb ramps, allowing easier passage for wheelchair users who previously had to travel in the streets to avoid hazardous conditions.

McGlashan noted, "Our sidewalks are safer and more accessible to all in Shoreline as a result of CDBG funding."

According to McGlashan, these efforts tell the story of how cities like Shoreline use CDBG to build the infrastructure of neighborhood revitalization.

"A little goes a long way," he said. "In Shoreline we use CDBG funding to stretch our local public works budget. It's is a critical part of Shoreline's overall development strategy and a unique resource we use to preserve and develop affordable housing."

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Title Annotation:CDBG WORKS; Community Development Block Grant
Author:Davis, Kalisha; Spirer, Stephanie
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 28, 2011
Words:510
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