Dealing with myriad uncoordinated federal programs had become an administrative nightmare for state and local government officials. For years, recipients of federal money had been trying to squeeze their many and varied needs into narrow federal categories. The decentralized system forced officials to spend inordinate amounts of energy dealing with time-consuming paper work instead of focusing on solving real problems.
To streamline the complex application and reporting process, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) developed the Consolidated Planning/Community Connections (CP/CC) program in 1994. This coordinated approach to federal funding folded together 12 separate programs representing $10 billion in federal assistance-from Community Development Block Grants to empowerment zones to Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS. CP/CC offers a package that enables communities to more easily tailor funding requests to their specific needs. Furthermore, the program strives to help communities achieve comprehensive visions of community development, reduce excessive paperwork, improve accountability, and encourage active citizen participation.
Eligible communities are asked to enlist as many people as possible to develop a single consolidated plan, which acts as the application for HUD funding. The consolidated plan broadly outlines the community goals to which the federal money will be applied and sets out specific performance objectives by which their progress can be judged. The housing and homeless needs assessment portion of the plan examines the housing and homelessness state within the community for a five year period while also addressing lead-based paint concerns. The plan also must contain a segment that analyzes the area's housing market characteristics, such as concentrations of ethnic minorities and low income families. Following this analysis, the plan outlines strategies and prioritizes the various housing, homeless, and community development needs with a quantitative analysis of the necessary funds. The annual action portion of the plan describes projects and activities that can be funded by all available formula grants. The community then is required to agree to meet specific Federal requirements such as following a citizen participation plan, expanding fair housing, and maintaining a drug free work place. The community also must include a detailed description of its proposals to monitor projects that would be funded under the plan.
In addition, the CP/CC initiative incorporates a computer graphics component that enables communities to make maps illustrating both resources and need on a community-wide basis. Each consolidated plan and their accompanying maps can be accessed on HUD's homepage, which is then updated with any changes. HUD hopes the new software will make the whole community planning process more accessible and will make the CP/CC program a powerful tool in integrating community planning and development.