California State University East Bay

Hayward surprised by unused $1.4 million

October 23, 2014

After a financial review on Hayward’s federally funded Community Development Block Grant, the federal government found close to $1.4 million in leftover funds from 1976 to the present. Now, the city doesn’t know what to do with it.

“Never has a $1.4 million dollar windfall been so frustrating,” said Councilman Al Mendall.

The city receives these funds through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and they must be used in lower income areas in the city.

The funds must be used within 12 months otherwise the federal government will reabsorb them. The city, after much deliberation, decided to use the funds to improve roads in the Jackson Triangle neighborhood near Harder Elementary in Hayward. Typically the city spends close to $4 million on roads per year on general renovations, Mendall mentioned.

The proposed roads to see renovations include Langley Way, Tioga Road, Muir Street, Arvilla Lane, Frederic Avenue, Culp Avenue, Donald Avenue, Charles Avenue, and Brooks Way.

Other proposed projects by the city for the money included building a second community health clinic at a fire station, reconstructing the Eden Youth and Family Center, and social services for the homeless. However, none of those plans fit the requirements from HUD for use of those funds.

Non-profits in Hayward who are funded by the CDBG grants weren’t happy with the decision. Sue Meryl of the South Hayward Parish and others at the meeting offered other ways to use the money, such as building accommodations for the homeless within the city. Another woman proposed introducing a mobile shower for homeless to use like the LavaMe group in San Francisco.

Sean Reinhart, director of libraries and community services, deemed these proposals infeasible. He said that a fair and professional process of accepting ideas and holding community meetings and judging the feasibility of these ideas from all interested parties in Hayward would take close to a year and would not be completed within the 12 month period.

The council decided to move forward with the road reconstruction project largely to keep these funds within the city and not let the federal government take them back.

Councilman Marvin Peixoto speculated that HUD and Congress could be conducting these audits in an attempt to scrounge up revenues to fund ongoing war operations.

“They’re under tremendous pressure from Congress, they have wars to fight, and other things to do,” said Peixoto. “There’s not much interest, so they’re trying to cover themselves.”

The council approved the action, with Councilwoman Sara Lamnin absent and Councilman Francisco Zermeno casting the sole vote against.

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