Two representatives from the state governor’s Office of Economic Development came to Ely on April 26 to hold a public hearing concerning the fourth version of the state’s Housing and Community Development Program Annual Action Plan.

“This is a critical program to help communities,” said Jean Barrette, Community Development Block Grant Program Administrator.

Traveling with Barrette was Program Specialist Jessica Sanders.

“The action plan is essentially a request for funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development,” Barrette said. “It’s key funding to help leverage other funding sources.”

At the hearing the public had an opportunity to provide input and feedback to the plan, which has been available to review online for several months, and garners about $2.4 million worth of funding annually.

“CDBG funding is for low-to-moderate income areas, but because of the last census numbers, White Pine does not qualify except for the senior center,” said Elaine Blackham, Senior Management Assistant for the White Pine County Office of Community and Economic Development.

According to the 2000 federal census, 56% of the town of McGill ranked as low-to-moderate income. HUD requires at least 51% to qualify for funding. But the 2010 census did not require information about income, and the census area changed, resulting in a drop to 31%.

Blackham’s department has recently begun its own income survey, administered in part by volunteer McGill firefighters handing out flyers door to door.

“It has helped White Pine County immensely,” Blackham said. “Without help from CDBG, communities would have had to pay themselves to hook up to infrastructure systems. The program has saved thousands of dollars.”

Through the program, White Pine County provided the City of Ely with $366,000 to replace old clay water pipelines under 15th Street.  The county also provided $200,000 worth of funding to the Rural Nevada Development Corporation, which helps to rehabilitate homes in the area.

NOTE: It was stated that White Pine County and the City of Ely have relied on CDBG funding for years. Please note, Jean Barrette commented “In fact the City of Ely was awarded $366,000 for the replacement of clay pipes on 15th Street and White Pine County is sponsoring Rural Nevada Development Corporation in their award of $200,000 for housing rehabilitation.” At no time did Jean Barrette or I (Elaine Blackham) state that White Pine County gave the City of Ely any money nor did White Pine County give RNDC any money. The City of Ely applied for their own funding, they were awarded $366,000 by CDBG. RNDC submitted their own application, sponsored by White Pine County and they were granted their $200,000 by CDBG. By sponsoring RNDC, White Pine County is not committed to giving RNDC any money. White Pine County will only serve as the “pass through” for the funding as required by CDBG for tax exempt organizations.