Grant Administration: Section 4.1 Citizen Participation RequirementsMunicipalities must provide reasonable opportunities for citizen participation, hearings, and access to information with respect to local community development programs. Certain citizen participation requirements must be met by the grantee prior to application submission while other requirements apply throughout the course of the project. Grantees are expected to take whatever actions are appropriate to encourage the participation of all its citizens, including minorities and non‐English speaking persons, as well as persons with disabilities. (Section 4.5 below addresses required steps to assist limited-English proficient persons.)
Citizen Participation Plan
All municipalities receiving CDBG funds from the State of New Hampshire must adhere to the Citizen Participation Requirements set forth in the State’s Citizen Participation plan and adopt it. Each municipality also must meet the following requirements:
1. Solicit input on local community development needs and proposed activities particularly by low- and moderate-income persons who reside within the municipality in which the grant funds are proposed to be used;
2. Promote public comment on the proposed application and community development activities via a minimum of two public hearings (more if any substantial change is proposed);
3. Provide special technical assistance to groups representative of LMI persons;
4. Identify the needs of non-English speaking residents and reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities;
5. Provide for a timely appropriate and effective written answer to complaints and grievances;
6. Provide citizens with reasonable and timely access to information, including the amount of funds available, the range of eligible activities, the activities being applied for, and amount of funds requested.
Each grantee must adhere to the State’s Citizen Participation Plan by adopting it as part of its Housing and Community Development Plan. Attachment 4-2 contains a Sample HCD Plan with a citizen participation plan component. Also, grantees should be aware that the HCD Plan, which will include the Citizen Participation Plan, is a required threshold document submitted with a CDBG application.
Required Public Hearings
Grantees should pay particular attention to the Public Hearing Component of the Grant Process. No application will be reviewed if the grantee has not complied with the procedures established and outlined below for public hearing notices and meetings. Two (2) public hearings are required at separate phases of the project. (Additional hearings may be required if substantial changes or amendments occur.)
1. Notice of public hearings must be published in a daily newspaper of general circulation in the municipality. For example, the Union Leader is such a daily newspaper serving many communities beyond Manchester. Attachment 4-3 is a sample format for the public notice. Attachment 4-3 Sample Public Notice
2. The public notice must be posted as a printed legal notice in three other public places within the municipality. Such other places may include:
a. Weekly papers can be used as an additional notice (not a primary notice in a daily newspaper of general circulation).
b. Use of internet, social media, or website calendars that announce public events (one of which may be the official municipal website).
3. The notice must be published no less than 10 days prior to the date of the public hearing. When counting the 10-day period, you may NOT count the day the advertisement runs or the day of the hearing.
4. Notice of the Public Hearing must include a contact person/ADA coordinator’s name and telephone number. Citizens should be advised to contact that individual, so the Town can provide accommodations for any persons with disabilities and provide assistance if a significant number of non-English speaking persons are expected. See Section 4.5 in this chapter for requirements regarding Limited English Proficiency (LEP).
5. Hearings must be scheduled during a time when citizens are generally available to attend. Morning, early afternoon, or weekend sessions are unacceptable.
6. Grantees planning on earning Program Income (PI) must include a discussion on the use and approval of the Program Income Reuse Plan as part of the public hearings. The municipality must provide adequate information about this PI Reuse Plan at this hearing. Attachment 6-7 has information about the required content of a PI Reuse Plan. More information on Program Income can be found in Chapter 6: Financial Management. Attachment 6-7 Sample program income reuse plan
In addition to the required notices, applicants must also make every effort to inform those who might not be reached through the newspaper notice that the public hearing is to be held. Such efforts might include the distribution of leaflets, post notices on bulletin boards at town hall, notices to local organizations, clubs, and churches, and/or personal contact. These efforts should especially be conducted in the neighborhoods affected by the proposed project.
NOTE: If a hearing is cancelled due to inclement weather, the public noticing process must repeat. It is recommended that all public notices include potential rescheduling dates to avoid this situation.
First Public Hearing Content
The first public hearing is an opportunity to educate and inform local residents about the project, to provide a forum for citizen input, and to obtain any community development needs. This hearing must be held prior to submission of the application to CDFA. The following information should be made available at public hearings:
1. Goals and objectives of the CDBG program,
2. Total amount of CDBG funds available,
3. Community development and housing needs of the applicant,
4. Proposed activities for the project and the amount to be requested; estimated beneficiaries (such as approximate number of homes to be rehabbed, dwelling units connected to infrastructure, persons served), qualification requirements, how the program is managed, role of grantee and consultant, if any, type of improvements or construction proposed, timeframe to complete the project,
5. Proposed amount of funds to be used to benefit low- and moderate- income people,
6. Amount and source of local funds to be expended on the project, and
7. Adoption of a Residential Anti-displacement and Relocation Assistance Plan. See Attachment 9-17. Attachment 9-17 Sample Residential Antidisplacement and Relocation Assistance Plan
8. Review of the local Housing and Community Development Plan (Attachment 4-2). This plan needs to be re-affirmed only every 3 years. Attachment 4-2 Sample-Housing-Community-Development-Plan
A copy, scan, or digital attachment of the newspaper posting for the first public hearing must be included as part of the application submitted to CFDA. The date that the posting was published must be clear on any submitted copy. Also, a final approved copy of the hearing minutes from the first public hearing must be included with the grant application. The grantee should retain the same information for the second or any additional hearings held prior to project completion for monitoring by CDFA. The final draft of the application must be made available to the public.
Second Public Hearing Content
The second public hearing is for the municipality to review the results of the project with citizens and to take comments about the municipalities’s performance. The public hearing must be held prior to the close out of the grant, but no earlier than the projected mid-point, to provide status of the program. The following information should be made available at public hearings:
1. Project progress/status of completion and expected timeframe to completion
2. Results to date and projected totals, such as number of beneficiaries assisted, housing units completed, portion of project in service, or persons served.
3. Funds expended, balance of funds available, and budget expectations to completion.
When a grantee is planning to conduct a second hearing from one grant in conjunction with the first hearing for a new grant, the advertisement language must be clear in the dual purpose of the hearing.
Additional Public Hearings Content
If the grantee is required or chooses to hold additional public hearings, they must provide citizens with reasonable advance notice of, and opportunity to comment on, proposed changes to activities in an application to the state as described in the required notices for the first and second hearing. Grantees that propose substantial changes are required to hold an additional hearing. Substantially changed means changes to:
- Scope, adding or removing an activity
- Increase or Decrease funding by 25% or more
The content of the additional public hearing would encompass all of the same elements of the first hearing with two changes. Replace item #3 Community development and housing needs of the applicant with “3. Explanation for the change(s).” Then, all other content items from the original hearing should be revisited and discussed in comparison to the proposed revision or amendment to the project.
Complaints and Grievances
Occasionally grantees receive complaints regarding their projects and activities. In order to respond, grantees must develop procedures for responding to complaints. See Section 4.9 Grievance Procedures in this chapter.