Since 1975, Newton has spent nearly $12 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds in eligible neighborhoods to make vital enhancements to the city’s physical and social environment. Improvements are undertaken with the goal of improving the quality of life for the city’s low- and moderate-income (LMI) residents. According to federal CDBG regulations, these area-benefit activities may only be undertaken within neighborhoods where 51 percent of the area’s households have an income that is 80 percent or less than the area median income (AMI). None of the census block groups within the city of Newton meet this requirement.
Consequently, HUD allows cities and counties to use an “exception approach”. In order to be designated as a target neighborhood eligible for CDBG funding, a neighborhood must be within the highest quartile of the City in terms of the concentration of low- and moderate-income residents. Based on data from the 2000 U.S. Census, 16 block groups were eligible for designation as target neighborhoods. However, as a result of limited CDBG funding, Newton has a policy to limit the number of target neighborhoods, prioritizing the eligible areas by highest LMI concentration and connecting contiguous block groups where possible.
Four block groups fell into the highest percentage category (37.1 to 47 percent) of low- and moderate-income residents—one in West Newton, one in Newtonville, one in Newton Corner and one in Nonantum. These four portions of the city were thus designated as CDBG target neighborhoods (see map below). Portions of both Newton Corner and Nonantum have been eligible for neighborhood improvement projects since the inception of the program, while portions of Thompsonville, Newton Highlands, Auburndale, Lower Falls and Upper Falls have all been eligible in the past for CDBG funding.
The City of Newton is committed to providing a system for full participation by city residents in the planning and implementation of the Housing and Community Development Program. In each target neighborhood, a citizen advisory committee appointed by the Mayor has been formed to help make funding, programmatic and policy recommendations. Advisory committees meet periodically to identify the needs in their neighborhood and develop priorities, strategies and projects that address those needs.
Past neighborhood improvement projects have included:
- Tree plantings
- Traffic islands
- Curbs and sidewalks
- Pedestrian improvements
- Traffic signals
- Conservation areas
Over the years, CDBG funds have been used to install new equipment, pathways, site amenities and landscaping at twenty parks, school playgrounds, and conservation areas throughout the City of Newton. Over 500 trees have been planted citywide. More than eighty streets have received new sidewalks, granite curbing, and improved water services. Additionally, CDBG funds have been used for new ornamental lighting on California Street, Jackson Road and in Stearns Park. Numerous pedestrian safety and traffic measures, such as crosswalks, pedestrian signals, and traffic signals, have been instituted. CDBG Neighborhood Improvement funds also contributed to the establishment of the Newton Senior Center.
Approximately $100,000 is allocated to Neighborhood Improvement projects annually. Funds rotate among the four target areas. For the FY11-15 period, the rotation cycle is as follows:
Please click below to view Neighborhood Improvement Program accomplishments for prior years.
For more information on the neighborhood improvements program, please contact James Kupfer, Community Development Planner at 617.796.1139.