City's 5-Year Consolidated Plan: survey now open, community meetings in February

The City of Pittsfield’s Department of Community Development is seeking input for a public survey to assist in gathering public opinion toward the preparation of the city’s 5-year Consolidated Plan.

The city receives Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) each year and, in order to receive the funds, a plan must be submitted to HUD outlining how the city plans to spend the funding over a five-year period.

The City of Pittsfield’s five-year Consolidated Plan will address the period of time beginning July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2025. The Annual Action Plan accounts for the period beginning July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021 and will be prepared and included within the five-year Consolidated Plan document. City projects supported by CDBG funds are included in the Annual Action Plan and are required to benefit low and moderate-income people or eliminate slums and blight.

CDBG regulations require public hearings and community input meetings during the plan preparation process. The data gathered from the survey will be used to help prioritize community needs.  

“As part of the public input process, the city is utilizing a public survey to allow residents to have a voice in how the CDBG funds are spent by telling the city where the greatest needs are in the community,” said Program Manager Justine Dodds. “The city conducted a similar survey five years ago and the results were extremely helpful.” The public survey is available electronically at the following link:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5CCTLS3. Additionally the survey can be directly accessed on the link, “CDBG Public Survey,” which is available on the homepage of the city’s website, www.cityofpittsfield.org.  The survey will be open through March 1, 2020.

The city will be distributing approximately 2,500 copies of the survey in paper format. “In previous years, the city found that distributing a paper copy provided people without access to a computer the ability to participate,” said Dodds.

The city is working in partnership with the Pittsfield Public Schools to help distribute paper copies of the survey as well as a number of agencies and organizations such as Berkshire Community Action Council, 18 Degrees (formerly Berkshire Children and Families), Berkshire Housing Development Corporation, Berkshire County Regional Housing Authority, Pittsfield Housing Authority, Christian Center, Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, Child Care of the Berkshires, Salvation Army, Westside Neighborhood Initiative, and the Morningside Neighborhood Initiative. 

In addition to the public survey, Community Development will also be sponsoring two public hearings and community input sessions in February. Attendees at the sessions will be able to speak on community issues, such as, but not limited to: housing, public facilities, job opportunities, crime, drug and alcohol abuse, childcare, domestic violence, handicapped services, and elderly services. 

The first public input meeting will be held at 5:45 p.m. Monday, Feb. 10 in the Community Room at Morningside Community School, 100 Burbank St.  The second public input meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24 in the Community Room at Conte Community School, 200 West Union St. 

The five-year Consolidated Plan, including the fiscal year 2021 Annual Action Plan, will be available in draft form in mid-April 2020 for the public to review and comment.  The plan will also undergo a formal adoption process, including a formal public hearing that will be publicly advertised. The plan will be completed and adopted by the middle of May and is due to be submitted to HUD shortly thereafter.

Residents who are unable to attend the public input sessions can drop off or mail their comments to the Department of Community Development, City Hall, 70 Allen Street, Room 205, Pittsfield, MA at 413-499-9368 or by TTY at 413-499-9340.  Public comments may also be e-mailed to jdodds@cityofpittsfield.org. Persons with special needs should contact the Department of Community Development and every effort will be made to accommodate their requests.