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The City of Minot has quickly become a leader among the entities that received funding in 2016 from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s National Disaster Resilience Competition.
As one of 13 locations nationwide to receive funding from HUD in January 2016, Minot was allocated $74.3 million to use toward several key aspects of creating a more resilient city. Minot officials and community leaders continued their work after the funding was announced, and the city is making substantial progress toward accomplishing the goals outlined in its application and presentation to HUD.
“It’s a testament to the visionary work done by the previous city manager, Lee Staab, and others like Donna Bye, Cindy Hemphill and our consulting partner firm, CDM Smith, who all helped take this concept to the public and then create a winning application,” said Chris Owen, Federal Compliance Officer for the City of Minot. “That drive, that passion, has translated into where we are today.”
Minot officials must wear multiple hats when working to make the city more resilient, and while those officials are experts in their own fields, they must also be well-versed in all aspects of the NDR funding process. That diversity of knowledge creates a synergy among staff members and community members, who are committed to working together to make the city’s vision become reality. That collaborative spirit among a small group of people is already paying dividends in the early stages of the six-year plan to use the NDR funds for the betterment of Minot and its residents.
Minot is by far the smallest of the 13 recipients, with New York City, New Orleans and Springfield, Mass., the other cities to receive funding. The remaining recipients include one county and eight states. Springfield, the next smallest city after Minot, has a population of more than 150,000. But Minot’s size definitely hasn’t been a hindrance in accomplishing the city’s goals.
The city has navigated the NDR process more efficiently than any other recipient. Minot became the first to have its grant agreement executed when Mayor Chuck Barney signed the agreement in the third quarter of 2016, and Minot was the first to have its action plan approved in November 2016. In addition, Minot was ahead of all other recipients in collecting its first funds from the NDR grant on Jan. 15, 2017. Minot provided its initial quarterly report to HUD on Jan. 30, 2017, becoming the first location to complete that task.
“Those of us that have joined the team more recently, including myself, City Manager Tom Barry, Planning Director and Chief Resilience Officer Robert Davis, and others, have been able to help keep the process moving forward,” Owen said. “Some of the other grant recipients are still working through their paperwork process, whereas Minot already has the ability to draw funds from the grant. The bottom line is that we are now well-positioned to turn the vision laid out in our application into reality.”
As part of the city’s overall progress, the extensive Minot Housing Supply & Demand Study was completed in January 2017. The study will help officials better understand the supply and demand of current affordable house in Minot, and what the city’s needs will be in the future.
Park South, the first affordable housing project to receive funds from the NDR grant, was approved by the Minot City Council in March to receive $1.85 million. The project will renovate and expand an existing building in southeast Minot into 30 affordable housing units. Owen said it’s a prime example of how Minot has been able to translate paperwork into action.
“Because we’ve been able to efficiently complete the paperwork and planning stages of the overall NDR process, we now have more time to complete the projects in our application that will help us become a more resilient community,” Owen said. “Park South is a great example of the process becoming reality.”
The funds Minot received from HUD must be expended by Sept. 30, 2022.
“The end date is set in stone. What we’ve been able to accomplish so far gives us the maximum time to execute our plan to help the residents of the community,” Owen said.
The funding from HUD cannot be used for flood control other than to purchase homes to help remove citizens from harm’s way. Instead, the program to be completed within the next six years must focus on three projects outlined in the NDR application Minot submitted in 2015. Those three specific projects include reducing flood risks and improving water management ($21million); building affordable, resilient neighborhoods, including a downtown gathering space and a family shelter ($43 million); and fostering economic resilience and diversification ($5 million). The remaining funds are allocated to planning and administrative costs.