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For jurisdictions receiving certain types of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding, HUD requires a five year Strategic Plan, or Consolidated Plan, as well as a plan for the first of those five years, called an Annual Action Plan. That jurisdiction may also be required to complete an Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing (AIFH), which documents potential barriers to people of all backgrounds having access to housing.

Anyone who has completed any part of a Consolidated Plan recognizes that it offers a significant opportunity to gain insights into a city or county’s challenges related to housing, homelessness, health care, special populations, economic development, fair housing, and employment. The work is exciting in its big picture focus as well as in its attention and emphasis on details. Because HUD wants planners and community development departments to base its spending on the needs of residents, we develop and conduct a rigorous Citizen Participation Plan (CPP), where we meet community members who are most affected by these programs.

We have never had a “typical” Consolidated Plan experience. Among our various ConPlan activities, we have completed two ConPlans and an AIFH for two affiliated jurisdictions within a five-week timeframe; helped a brand-new jurisdiction launch its ConPlan during a period in which the HUD data provided was inaccurate and we had to quickly research and locate new data; and, most recently, conducted two ConPlans in the middle of the pandemic. For one jurisdiction, we conducted our public meetings via Zoom and are pleased to note that the jurisdiction reported its highest attendance ever for a ConPlan public meeting.

HUD Consolidated Planning offers an excellent opportunity for communities to understand their citizens’ needs and priorities in a holistic way as they make significant decisions regarding the funding of critical programs. We are honored that we can contribute to these important initiatives.