16 Inspiring Examples of Communities Capitalizing on CDBG Funding

For the last forty years, the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program has helped communities throughout the U.S. address a wide range of community development needs by improving housing, ensuring suitable living environments, and expanding economic opportunities.

Let’s take a look at 16 community projects that benefited from the CDBG program. Along the way, our community development specialists share tips for applying for the program.

Historic railroad depot renovated into community center
City of Abbotsford, Wis. | $225,000 CDBG Funding for Library/Senior Center/City Hall
The new Abbotsford Library and City Hall was built on a historical downtown site that once was home to a railroad depot. Prominent local fund raisers expressed a strong desire for the building to have a railroad depot theme. The building includes a new library, a public learning center, a community room and City Hall offices.

Local family sets tone for renovation of vacant building
City of St. Croix Falls, Wis. | $340,000 CDBG Funding for Library
The City selected the site of a vacant grocery store for their new public library. Additionally, a generous donation of $200,000 from a local family helped set the tone for a successful fundraising campaign. The library’s collection was moved from its previous location within a week with help from volunteers.


“To qualify for CDBG funds, projects must meet one of three federal objectives. They must benefit low-to-moderate income residents, eliminate slum or blight, or eliminate a public health or safety issue.”

— Mike Larson, Community Development Specialist

Historic Art Deco theater becomes Art-Deco-inspired library
Village of Frederic, Wis. | $240,000 CDBG Funding for Library/Downtown Revitalization
The library, featuring a remodeled exterior inspired by the art deco theater that once occupied the site, served as a catalyst for additional downtown development.

Community rallies around new library
City of Mellen, Wis. | $200,000 CDBG Funding for Library/Senior Center
The original library was sponsored by the American Legion in 1927. In 2009, a new library featuring multi-use space and a senior center opened its doors with a ribbon-cutting event attended by a State Senator and Representative, the Girl Scouts, and a proud community of volunteers and fund-raisers.


“When reading through the requirements before applying for CDBG funds, pay extra attention to the reporting requirements, as the administration of these grants can be costly.”

— Mike Larson, Community Development Specialist

Library increases accessibility
City of Thorp, Wis. | $130,000 CDBG Funding for Library Renovation
Renovations of the Thorp Public Library were designed to improve accessibility and meet the physical requirements of modern library service, including handicap parking, accessible entrances, and the installation of a new elevator.

Unused church transforms into library and community center
Village of Westboro, Wis. | $127,000 CDBG Funding for Library/Community Center
With limited resources, the Village of Westboro renovated an unused church building into a new library and community center. Currently, the library hosts a weekly arts education program for aspiring elementary school artists.

Multi-purpose building adds to the community
Village of Osceola, Wis. | $489,000 CDBG Funding for Senior Center/Library/Village Hall
The building includes space for administration, courts, fire, library and police functions as well as a senior center.


“Knowing the difference between eligible and fundable projects may be the difference between receiving financial assistance for your project. Projects may be eligible by meeting the basic criteria set forth by the CDBG Program. However, state and federal administering CDBG Programs have different target priorities and benefits they must accomplish. Projects that address these priorities are fundable.”

— Nate Day, Senior Planner

Library and Village Hall becomes more accessible for growing community
Village of Turtle Lake, Wis. | $308,000 CDBG Funding for Library and Village Hall
The Turtle Lake Library has grown considerably since its humble beginnings in 1960. Services include delivery of library materials to retirement apartments in the area. Funds were needed to improve handicap and senior accessibility in the library and Village Hall.

New pipes to combat costly inflow and infiltration
City of Babbitt, Minn. | $150,000 CDBG Funding for aging infrastructure
With a large amount of inflow and infiltration (I&I) causing the City to treat large volumes of storm water and spring melt water, the City is using the grant to replace the underlying infrastructure and, afterward, reconstruct the streets.


“Significant administrative pre-application work is needed to apply for Wisconsin CDBG funding. So starting early is important.”

— Nate Day, Senior Planner

Street reconstruction for vital industry
City of Chisholm, Minn. | $400,000 CDBG Funding for Aging Infrastructure
The City will be making major street improvements, which include replacing water mains, sanitary sewer lines, storm sewers and total street reconstruction, to preserve a vital alternate route to the industrial/business park and meet the needs of a new business there.

New infrastructure to reduce cost of water treatment
City of Virginia, Minn. | $200,000 CDBG Funding for Aging Infrastructure
With large amounts inflow and infiltration (I/I) entering the City's treatment system, the funding will be used repair trunk water and sewer mains that serve a large section of the north side of the City, including a large number of seniors and disadvantaged residents living in a nearby complex. The project will help the City meet MPCA requirements regarding I/I, upgrade water and sewer capacity and help reduce the City's annual O&M budget.

Rehabilitation of the aging drinking water system
City of Akeley, Minn. | $310,000 CDBG Funding for Drinking Water Improvements
The City of Akeley’s drinking water system was in need of various improvements – their two wells needed rehabilitation, as did their water treatment plant and water tower. This small community, with a median household income of $36,667, was hard pressed to fund these improvements on their own. The $310,000 CDBG grant allowed them to move the project forward.


Removed arsenic from drinking water with new wells
City of Belgrade, Minn. | $417,000 CDBG Funding for a New Water Treatment Plant & Wells
The City had levels of arsenic in their drinking water above Minnesota Department of Health standards. In response, the city constructed a new well and a new drinking water treatment plant. In addition to $417,400 in CDBG funding, the City received a grant and a loan from the Minnesota Public Facilities Authority to complete the $1.9 million project.

Brought homes and downtown buildings to today’s standards
City of Spicer, Minn. | $617,000 CDBG Funding for Owner Occupied Housing Rehabilitation and Downtown Building Rehabilitation
Like many rural communities, the City of Spicer's most-pressing challenges are a deteriorating downtown and aging housing stock. CDBG was a perfect fit to address those needs, providing grant monies to bring homes and downtown buildings to today’s standards.


“The CDBG Program generally serves large cities and densely populated areas, called “entitlement” communities. However, smaller, “non-entitlement” communities may also apply for grant funding under the right conditions.”

— Nate Day, Senior Planner

Revived a utility and road reconstruction
City of Sauk Rapids, Minn. | $77,000 CDBG Funding for Assessment Abatement on Utility & Street Reconstruction Project
The City knew they needed new streets and utilities, but struggled with how residents would handle the corresponding assessment. That’s where SEH funding experts came in, applying to the Small Cities Development Program under their Assessment Abatement activity. Knowing that the grant would pay for the income qualified households, the City ordered the project and there were no objections. The grant assisted 12 households with an assessment abatement grant.

Funding for a new wastewater treatment facility and collection system
City of South Haven, Minn. | $770,000 CDBG Funding for Wastewater Treatment Improvements & Housing Rehabilitation
In the late 1990s, after multiple failures with individual septic systems, the City of South Haven needed a new wastewater treatment facility and a wastewater collection system. The dilemma was funding. SEH funding specialists secured an 80 percent grant from Rural Development and a grant from Small Cities Development Program to fund the remaining 20 percent.

About the Experts

Nate Day, AICP, is a senior planner in Wisconsin who helps strengthen communities. Nate assists communities obtain financial assistance for projects.

Mike Larson is a community development manager responsible for project financing, development and providing sound and innovative strategies to ensure that client projects and programs are undertaken in the most cost-effective manner.


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