Chapter 23B is hereby amended by adding the following section:--
Section 31. (a) As used in this section, the following words shall, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, have the following meanings:--
“CDBG”, the federal Community Development Block Grant awarded by the federal Department of Housing and Community Development.
“CDF I”, a certain grant program administered by the department using CDBG funds known as Community Development Fund I.
“CDF II”, a certain grant program administered by the department using CDBG funds known as Community Development Fund II.
“Community-wide needs score”, a score determined by the department that incorporates individual factors such as the number of low and moderate income persons and unemployment rates and community factors such as the age and the cost of housing and the tax burden.
“Department,” the department of housing and community development.
“Entitlement community”, a municipality designated as an entitlement community by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“Mini-entitlement municipality”, a municipality that meets the following criteria: (i) a community-wide needs score over 28, (ii) a population over 12,000, and (iii) a poverty rate higher than the state average.
“Mini-entitlement region”, a group of municipalities within 20 miles of each other that agrees to collaborate as a region and that meets the following criteria: (i) a community-wide needs score over 28 in each municipality; (ii) a combined population over 12,000; and (iii) an average poverty rate higher than the state average, calculated by adding the poverty rate in each municipality and dividing it by the total number of municipalities agreeing to collaborate as a region.
(b) There shall be within the department a program to help mini-entitlement municipalities and mini-entitlement regions improve conditions for their low-income and moderate-income residents through comprehensive planning and predictable funding for a broad range of community development needs in housing, business development, physical development, downtown revitalization, and public social services. The program shall support CDBG-eligible activities and encourage applicants to develop comprehensive, creative solutions to local problems.
To qualify for the program, the department shall require mini-entitlement municipalities and regions to approach CDBG projects in a comprehensive and integrated manner and shall direct them to target their CDBG funds to particular geographic areas in order to impact and effect change within neighborhoods. Housing rehabilitation programs may be designed to allow up to 20 per cent of the funds to be used for emergency purposes outside the target area.
The department shall offer technical assistance to mini-entitlement municipalities and mini-entitlement regions, including planning, priority setting, and project evaluation and development.
Applications for the program shall contain an 18-month implementation and cash flow plan. Program grantees shall comply with standards for timely expenditure and available program income as determined by the department.
(d) The following requirements apply to the program:
(i) Projects shall be identified through meaningful community-based planning and priority setting processes as described by the department. Each program grantee shall submit a community development strategy that includes how the municipality or region will plan for and implement projects that are consistent with the commonwealth’s sustainable development principles.
(ii) The applications shall describe how CDBG funds shall be allocated and include goals and performance measures for each activity; shall demonstrate compliance with a federal national objective and all federal and state requirements; and shall include a management plan.
(iii) All activities that are eligible under Section 105(a) of Title I of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, as amended, shall be considered for funding with the exception of organizational activities of downtown partnerships.
(iv) A program grantee may not join with CDF I or CDF II communities as joint applicants.
(v) A program grantee shall remain eligible for a period of three years, even if changes to its community-wide needs score, its population, or its poverty rate would otherwise make it ineligible.
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