Something very courageous happened at a recent Douglas County commissioners’ hearing. Colorado Community Media reported that at a June 28 hearing, Commissioners Roger Partridge and David Weaver voted “no” to accepting federal Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) monies. In the past, CDBG funds have been distributed to a variety of nonprofit and non-governmental entities throughout Douglas County. Both commissioners voiced their concerns of the far-reaching rules, regulations and compliance requirements hidden deep within HUD’s updated CDBG application.
Included in HUD’s application are two things that should cause each of us to pause. The first is the language of “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” (AFFH). In essence, AFFH gives politicians and bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., the power to make zoning decisions for our neighborhoods and communities based on complex, regional, demographic and income parameters. It requires our communities to pay for assessments and reporting mechanisms while obligating our citizens to either redirect or raise local taxes to bring neighborhoods into regional compliance. Under AFFH, “if you like your neighborhood, you may not be able to keep your neighborhood.”
Secondly, Weaver (former Douglas County sheriff) voiced his concerns about the language inserted into the CDBG application that says police agencies “must have excessive force rules in place.” Such policies will cause our police officers to “think twice” as they “serve and protect” our communities. Ultimately, this results in less safe communities and increased danger to our peace officers. He also noted that the commissioners do not have jurisdiction over police forces. It is not the role of the federal government to dictate policy on local police issues.
I care deeply about my neighbors and communities and have volunteered with multiple organizations over the years. Several considerations come to mind as we look at these CDBG grants:
While helping others is indeed a noble cause and Americans are among the most generous people in the world, “forced charity” by politicians & bureaucrats is neither noble nor charitable.
It is unfair that government picks which entities receive CDBG funds (winners) and which don’t (losers).
The Colorado Community Media article references the Douglas County Housing Partnership programs. While well-intentioned, the actual effects of such programs disincentivize our young people and makes it more expensive for our middle class to pursue their hopes and dreams. Under “affordable housing” programs, two people may pay differing rents for the same apartment depending on their incomes. How is this fair?
If we are serious about making housing more affordable, we need to reduce rules and regulations. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that government compliance costs are increasing the cost of new homes by 24.3 percent. Think how many more young people could move out of their parent’s basements if the cost of housing was reduced by just 20 percent.
Lastly, per the CDBG agreement, each entity may take up to 20 percent of awarded funds for administration. In 2015, Douglas County used 15.7 percent for administration. Douglas County staff recommended distribution of $732,365 to 15 projects in 2016. Assuming 15.7 percent administrative fees and assuming tax funds go through four entities (IRS, HUD, Douglas County and grantees), $1,222,488.71 must be taken from taxpayers to get $617,383.69 to the recipients of these programs. Private individuals funding private charities and businesses are much more efficient.
The issue is complicated. Thank you to Partridge and Weaver for making the difficult decisions necessary for the well-being of our community.
Kim Monson is co-host of “The Americhicks – Molly & Kim” on 560 KLZ-AM and 100.7-FM radio and a former Lone Tree city council member.