Cameron County invites public to hearing on block grant applications

BROWNSVILLE — Cameron County officials are preparing to apply for grants that will improve low- and moderate-income communities in rural areas, and they want the public’s input on what type of projects are in need.

The county’s Program Development & Management Department will hold a public hearing 6 p.m. Thursday on the second floor of the Dancy Building to talk about the Texas Community Development Block Grant Program and hear requests for project funding.

Community Development Coordinator Raul Garcia said Cameron County applies to the Texas Department of Agriculture for funding on behalf of entities in unincorporated areas. Last year, the county and the Olmito Water Supply Corp. were awarded $275,000 for improvements to water and sewer lines reaching 324 residents.

Garcia said those who request funding for a project on Thursday will have until Oct. 2 to submit a project digest that outlines the scope, location, cost and number of people benefiting from the proposal. The proposals will be graded on a point scale with infrastructure projects taking first priority, followed by housing, fire protection, community centers, parks and other categories.

Garcia said his department will make project recommendations to the Cameron County Commissioners Court, which makes its selection Oct. 16. Grant applications are due to the Texas Department of Agriculture by Feb. 7.

Other local governments that were awarded $275,000 in block grants last year include Los Fresnos, Rio Hondo and Willacy County.

Garcia said the grant amounts are dispersed depending on population and highlight the need for Cameron County residents to respond during the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census. While last year’s projects in the Lower Rio Grande Valley received $275,000, a better population count could increase that to $500,000 or more, he said.

“Those are decisions based on population, and that’s why it’s so important the community participates in the … census, to get more projects, to get more funds,” Garcia said. “The more people do the census, the more money will come to the community.”