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Published on August 8th, 2018 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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City Community Development Receives 2018 John A. Sasso Award

Pictured above: Susan Ryan, Dollie Bristow and Gloria Saeed (middle) receive the 2018 John A. Sasso Award from the National Community Development Association representatives (right and left side).

Recently, the National Community Development Association (NCDA) recognized the City of Columbia Community Development Department as one of the winners of the 2018 John A. Sasso National Community Development Week Award during a special luncheon at the 49th NCDA Annual Conference in Long Beach, FL.

The award was created as a means of recognizing community efforts to promote and celebrate the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program and the HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) Program during National Community Development Week which was celebrated this year on April 2 – April 6, 2018. National Community Development Week provides the opportunity for grantees, sub-recipients, beneficiaries, State and local partners, and the community to unite to celebrate and recognize CDBG and HOME by showcasing projects and educating the community and Congressional Members on program benefits.

This year marks the 32nd anniversary of National Community Development Week and the 18th anniversary of the John A. Sasso National Community Development Week Award. CDBG and HOME dollars are allocated through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The CDBG and HOME programs form the bedrock of federal assistance to local communities. Both programs have been shrinking in recent years due to federal budget cuts. Since fiscal year 2010, CDBG has been cut by over 20% while the HOME program has been cut by over 50%, causing reductions in local programs that provide community development and affordable housing assistance. The National Community Development Week and the John A. Sasso National CD Week Award provide the opportunity to increase funding and draw national attention to both programs.

The award is named in honor of John A. Sasso, NCDA’s founder and leading force in nationally promoting CDBG, NCDA, and its members. In 1970, John Sasso became the first President of the Model Cities Community Development Directors Association (MCCDDA). MCCDDA eventually became the National Community Development Association after the passage of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, which created the CDBG program. John began his tenure in the field of community development as a Planner for the City of Pawtucket, RI. He retired from NCDA in 2000. Sadly, John passed in August 2016.

NCDA is a non-partisan, national non-profit membership-based organization that represents local government departments across the country that administer federally-supported community and economic development and affordable housing programs. NCDA is an association of people committed to assisting local governments to achieve high quality, locally responsive programs for making communities better places to live and work, particularly for low and moderate income people.

The City of Columbia was recognized due to the week-long activities that were hosted in honor of National Community Development Week. The Community Development Department staff set up an exhibit full of CDBG and HOME program information and Community Development pop up banners. The City hosted a large press conference with news media, a two-part homebuyer workshop, and a large community block party featuring free food, games, and music. The City also planned a special media blitz involving social media posts, website announcements, press releases, program beneficiaries, elected officials, television and radio interviews, and other dignitaries.

The City’s Public and Media Relations Department sent out information about National Community Development Week to local media outlets, uploaded it to the City’s website and posted it on the City’s social media platforms. The team also set up television and radio interviews and produced public service announcements to be aired on radio stations. Columbia’s National Community Development Week culminated in all of the activities that were hosted. The press conference and Community Block Party were attended by local elected officials, neighborhood leaders, City and county staff, Columbia residents, and news and print media. The Two-Part Homebuyer Workshop was attended by citizens of Columbia eagerly wanting to learn how to become homeowners. During the week-long National Community Development Week celebration, Community Development staff informed Columbia residents about the CDBG and HOME programs.

For more information, please contact Community Development at (803) 545-3373.

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