Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)
The Community Development Block Grant Program is a flexible grant program, in place since 1974, from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. CDBG programs work to develop viable urban communities by providing decent affordable housing and a suitable living environment, providing services to the most vulnerable in our communities and by expanding economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons.
CDBG is an important tool for helping local governments tackle serious challenges facing their communities. The CDBG program has made a difference in the lives of millions of people and their communities across the nation.
In Portsmouth, CDBG has supported many community development projects since the 1970's.
Public facility projects, commonly known as brick and mortar projects, include improvements to eligible streets, sidewalks, parks, playgrounds and public buildings.
City neighborhoods where brick and mortar projects can be carried out are those in which over 51% of the residents earn low or moderate incomes. U.S. Census Bureau data is used to define eligible neighborhoods. Census data is issued every ten years for the City as a whole, and for smaller geographic areas within the City called census tracts and census block groups.
Woodbury Avenue Cooperative Resident-Owned Community - 2023
In partnership with New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, Portsmouth Community Development Block Grant Program is investing in the substantial project to preserve and improve safe, affordable housing to the cooperative housing community located at Woodbury Avenue. The total project costs are over $1.5M and will bring much needed improvements to the resident-owned community including the demolition of abandoned homes unsuitable for habitation, purchase and installation of several new mobile homes, construction of street access for emergency vehicles and residents, and improvements to water-sewer infrastructure, which is critical to adequately serving the Cooperative's residents and their homes. The project is funded with a low-interest loan from NH Community Loan Fund, a demolition grant from the State of NH InvestNH grant as well as $400,000 Portsmouth CDBG Funds.
Design engineer firm Horizons Engineering and contractor Northeast Earth Mechanics started work on this project in March 2022 and the project was completed in spring 2023.
Rock Street Park Renovation
Funded with U.S. HUD Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) monies and through the City’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), this public park renovation project was co-managed by the Community Development and Public Works Departments. The primary vision for the renovation was to create a more open, safe and sunny space with a central gathering spot and where the park perimeter is visually reinforced with the existing sitting walls and views into and out of the park are improved.
Landscape Architect Terrence Parker from Terra Firma in Portsmouth, along with Alex Ross from Ross Engineering in Portsmouth, completed the design and facilitated two public listening sessions in January 2019. Syvinski Landscaping, Inc. from Seabrook was awarded the construction contract.
Major Accomplishments of the Project:
• Increased pathway lighting
• Reset walkway through park
• Cleared out overgrown canopy/damaged trees
• Replanted with low plants and size-appropriate trees
• Replaced swing set and adding infant swing
• Refreshed current playground equipment
• Added rock “climbing” element and new granite sitting walls in central gathering spot
• Added/replaced fencing where needed
• Cleaned up park border edges and entrances
• Repainted basketball court
• Replaced basketball hoop and backboard
• Installed drinking water fountain
With the above improvements and installations, and the repositioning of Peter Hapney’s distinguished art work to a visually prominent place within the park, Rock Street Park is refreshed and will serve the neighborhood’s needs for passive green space enjoyment and family play activities.
Past neighborhood bricks and mortar projects include:
- Gosling Road Bicycle, Pedestrian and Other Improvements – This project provided significant pedestrian, bicycle and other improvements in an area primarily benefiting the Gosling Meadows neighborhood. The project completed substantial sidewalk improvements from Woodbury Avenue to Pease Boulevard, installed 8-foot wide bicycle/pedestrian path and a covered bus shelter, and made other roadway/sidewalk improvements.
- Atlantic Heights Neighborhood Revitalization Project – CDBG funds were used in a concentrated effort to improve streetscape and parks in the densely-populated Atlantic Heights neighborhood along the river. Water, sewer and drainage upgrades as well as new concrete sidewalks, granite curbing, street paving and the planting of new street trees were carried out as part of a long-term neighborhood revitalization strategy from 1999 to 2015.
- Goodwin Park Improvement Project - Extensive improvements including landscaping, the installation of new lighting, benches and walkways, and the conservation of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument were completed at this park in the Cabot Street/MaDonough Street neighborhood.
CDBG funds can also be used for brick and mortar projects that benefit low and moderate income residents in other ways. For example:
Adaptive Reuse for Senior Activity Center Project – The former Paul S. Doble Army Reserve Center was renovated by the City into a Senior Activity Center serving Portsmouth residents. The project was a multi-year effort and will include parking and outdoor facilities for seniors. In addition to CDBG dollars, funding for this adaptive reuse project came from the Daniel Street Trust and general funds. For a history and timeline of the project, click here.
The project construction was completed in June 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Indoor use and programming had to be postponed for health reasons; however, outdoor senior programs were created at the site. The Center is in full use as of 2021. Ribbon Cutting News Release here.
- Redevelopment of Cross Roads House – The primary emergency and transitional homeless shelter in the region was awarded $100,000 toward a large scale redevelopment of the facility. Redevelopment included accessibility upgrades and general facility improvements. CDBG investments in this facility and other facilities of non-profits organizations serving special populations and residents earning low or moderate incomes is a cornerstone of the local and national CDBG program.
Cottage Hospital Senior Housing Project - The long vacant, City-owned, Cottage Hospital located adjacent to City Hall, was redeveloped by the Portsmouth Housing Authority into 20 units of affordable senior housing. In addition to CDBG dollars, funding for this $3 million redevelopment project includes federal HOME funds, a Federal Home Loan Bank grant and equity provided from the sale of low income housing tax credits and federal historic tax credits.
For More Information:
Contact Community Development Director, Elise Annunziata at EAnnunziata@cityofportsmouth.com or call (603) 610-7281.
Public Service Agency Grant Program
Each winter, this competitive grant program makes available grants for operating costs to non-profit public service agencies which assist people who earn low or moderate incomes as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
- Public service agencies must have a 501(c)(3) tax-exemption status.
- At least 51% of the individuals and/or families assisted by the program funded must earn low or moderate incomes as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
- The cost of labor, supplies, and/or materials required for the provision of services to agency clientele are eligible expenses. Grant funds may not be used for political activities or payments to individuals or families for food, clothing, rent, or utilities.
- Grants generally ranging from $3,000 to $15,000 are available to eligible agencies.
- Grants are provided on a reimbursement basis for expenses incurred during the fiscal year beginning July 1 and extending through June 30 of the next calendar year.
- A notice of funding availability for the next fiscal year’s grant awards is posted by the City usually in mid-January of the current fiscal year.
- This is a competitive grant process. All applications are reviewed by the Citizens Advisory Committee, which makes funding recommendations to the Portsmouth City Manager in April-May of the current fiscal year. All funding awards are contingent on the City receiving its annual CDBG award from HUD.
For More Information:
- Contact the Community Development Department at CommunityDev@cityofportsmouth.com
The Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC), first convened in 1975, is the advisory board and official citizen participation body for the Consolidated Plan and the CDBG Program. The CAC has the following responsibilities:
- To advise the Community Development Staff on emerging community development needs.
- To facilitate the involvement and participation of Portsmouth residents in the CDBG program development process.
- To hold public forums and hearings on the proposed Consolidated Plan, Annual Action Plan and CDBG program activities.
- To formulate and recommend to the City Manager a proposed Consolidated Plan and Annual Action Plan with CDBG program activities targeted to meet community needs.