National Community Development Week, April 11-15, is a time to celebrate the critical role the municipal government of Oak Park plays in administering the federal funds that support housing and expanded economic opportunities for our low- to moderate-income residents.
In the past five years alone, the village has distributed nearly $8 million in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The many services these funds have helped support through local not-for-profit organizations include public education, mental health, addiction counseling and treatment, access to fair housing, food insecurity relief, job training, housing assistance for the homeless, services for victims of domestic violence, and parenting education.
Beyond helping those most vulnerable in our community, CDBG program dollars also have helped fund local public infrastructure projects in low- to moderate-income areas, such as improving sidewalks, streets and alleys, and replacing lead water service lines.
Single- and multi-family rental rehabilitation and lead abatement also have been supported by CDBG funds administered by the village. These investments have helped to resolve serious safety code violations and improve health and safety conditions for low- to moderate-income households who call Oak Park home.
Allocating these critical federal funds is a major undertaking. Each year, volunteers on the Community Development Citizens Advisory Committee work with village staff to review scores of detailed applications for funding, submitted by a wide range of Oak Park organizations.
Funds are limited and the competition fierce. But the outcomes make the work both rewarding and worthwhile.
So please join us as we celebrate National Community Development Week and the many positive impacts federal CDBG program funds have had on our community.
Elizabeth Austin, Gregory Buchanan, Andrew Cells, Nezar Nafiseh, Sheena Rayford, Bryan Wong
Community Development Citizens Advisory Committee