Jean Barrette and the Nevada Block Grant

Another of our distinguished advisory board members at is Jean Barrette, who administers the CDBG program in rural Nevada. Jean helped the Nevada Housing Division at the very beginning of by giving us the name and contact information of a colleague in Nebraska who had started a rental housing locator powered by Jean has continued to be involved by helping with outreach to the CDBG constituency in rural Nevada. below she answers questions about the CDBG program.

  • You work for the Governor’s Office on Economic Development (GOED) as Program Administrator of CDBG. What is CDBG?

CDBG stands for Community Development Block Grant.  It is one of the Department of Housing & Urban Development’s (HUD) four formula grant programs.  The program began in 1974 and is one of the longest continuously run programs at HUD.  In 1981 the program provided funding to States to award grants to smaller units of government: those cities under 50,000 and those counties under 200,000.  The larger communities are referred to as Entitlement Communities; the smaller communities are referred to as Non-Entitlement Communities.

  • What parts of the state does your grant cover? How much money is the grant for?

The State of Nevada has 26 eligible cities and counties in the rural areas: 11 cities (Caliente, Carlin, Elko, Ely, Fallon, Fernley, Lovelock, Wells, West Wendover, Winnemucca, Yerington) and 15 counties (all counties except Washoe and Clark).  We receive approximately 2.4 million dollars each year to award.  Nationwide, the overall funding for the CDBG program has decreased approximately 20 to 25 percent since 2010.  Nevada’s funding decrease since 2010 is 19.6 percent.

  • What types of activities can CDBG money be used for? Can CDBG money be used to help supply affordable housing?

The CDBG program has 16 different activities that can be funded.  However, both HUD and GOED suggest focusing on fewer activities so the funding will have more impact in the communities.  States have the flexibility to choose which activities to prioritize: HUD does not dictate how the funds should be spent.  HUD simply provides the guidelines, through regulations, regarding the grant program.  The most important requirement is that over a three-year period, 70 percent of the grant funding must benefit people who are low- and moderate-income.

CDBG funds may be used to supply affordable housing.  In Nevada, because of the limited funding, housing is not a focus but there are examples where CDBG funding can be used to provide infrastructure, for instance, for an affordable housing project.

  • Any examples of CDBG’s involvement with affordable housing in Nevada?

Yes.  Nevada’s CDBG program has funded and is currently funding the housing rehabilitation program operated by the Nevada Rural Development Corporation ( ) located in Ely, Nevada.  Though located in Ely, the RNDC rehabilitates homes throughout rural Nevada.  This program provides funding to rehabilitate owner-occupied homes for low- and moderate-income individuals or households.  This rehabilitation allows people who are elderly and/or disabled to stay in their homes and, at the same time, preserve affordable housing stock.

  • How do you decide which projects to use the grant money for? Can community groups be involved in the decision making?

The CDBG program has always had an advisory committee that makes recommendations regarding allocation of funding.  Recommendations are reviewed by the Director of Rural Community & Economic Development and the Executive Director of GOED before going to the Governor for final approval.

Community groups and individuals can be involved in the decision making.  In fact, it is mandatory that communities have citizen participation as they develop grant applications.  The grant application process spans six months where the public is notified of CDBG funding available and informed about the CDBG program. The public is informed about projects funded in the past for each community and the kind of activities that can be funded.  The CDBG eligible cities and counties advertise public meetings where ideas for projects can be submitted.  Public participation is a key component of the CDBG application process.

Contact info and links:

Jean L. Barrette

CDBG Program Administrator