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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Consolidated Plans: Bringing It All Together

In many ways, HUD has simplified the Consolidated Planning process with the new eCon Planning Suite. It has a standardized format, and much of the data (albeit a bit out of date) is already provided in tables within the forms. Rather than interpreting HUD regulations, the form asks specific questions, taking a great deal of guesswork out of the process. In addition, all information can be input into IDIS, where plans, disbursements and reports are now stored in one place.

These are all welcome developments. Still, when the Consolidated Plan is printed out, it is well over 100 pages and not in the most readable format. One can easily get lost in the numerous forms and tables. To gain some perspective and strategic direction, I have found it helpful to take a step back and look at the big picture.

In summary, the Consolidated Plan consists of the following elements:

1.              Executive Summary
2.              The Process - a description of your consultation with other agencies, and the public outreach process.
3.              Needs Assessment - an analysis of housing, community development, and economic development needs.
4.              Market Analysis - an assessment of market conditions.
5.              Strategic Plan - a plan of action for the 5-Year planning period.
6.              Annual Action Plan - a plan of action for the first year of the 5-Year planning period.

After completing Sections 1-4, I recommend you summarize your findings by listing the Priority Needs identified through the following processes:
·                Consultation and Public Outreach
·                CAPER review
·                Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing (HUD is putting a strong emphasis on this)
·                ConPlan Needs Assessment
·                ConPlan Market Analysis

After listing your priorities, you will find some overlap and duplication between the different processes. Through this analysis, you will be able to assemble the overall Priority Needs list required in the Strategic Plan. You can then formulate your Strategic Plan’s goals and Annual Action Plan Projects, based on the Priority Needs, available resources (i.e. budget constraints), and past performance (as documented in the CAPER).

So here's the ConPlan big picture process, as we formulated it for the City of Chico:

Good luck navigating through the IDIS weeds and keeping your focus! You can do it!

Do you have any helpful tips or tricks for navigating the Consolidated Process? Post your comments below!