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Published on June 23rd, 2017 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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City Community Development Department Receives John A. Sasso Award

Pictured above from left to right: Bonnie Moore, NCDA President, City of Shreveport, LA, Charmaine Clark, City of Columbia Community Development Community Liaison, Gloria Saeed, City of Columbia Community Development Director and Vicki Watson, NCDA Executive Director.

Recently, the National Community Development Association (NCDA) recognized the City of Columbia Community Development Department as one of the winners of the 2017 John A. Sasso National Community Development Week Award during a special luncheon at the 48th NCDA Annual Conference in Miami, FL.

The National Community Development Week Awards are 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 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 August 2016.

This year marks the 31st anniversary of National Community Development Week and the 17th anniversary of the John A. Sasso National Community Development Week Award. CDBG and HOME 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 provides the opportunity to increase funding and draw national attention to both programs.

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 ribbon cutting ceremony in the Lyon Street neighborhood, 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.

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