Commerce awards $5.6 million for vital community facility and infrastructure projects in five rural counties

Port Townsend early learning and family support center among high-priority local projects awarded Community Development Block Grants.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington State Department of Commerce announced that five cities and counties will receive a total of $5.6 million in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). The CDBG program funds a wide range of local projects, including public water, sewer, emergency and fire protection systems, streets, housing, food pantries and more.

Among the projects awarded funding in this round is a proposed early learning and family support center in Port Townsend, adjacent to the high school campus. This project, which also received $1 million from the Department of Commerce Early Learning Facilities program, will dramatically increase local childcare capacity with approximately 42 new slots, including eight for infants. In addition, the community support center will serve as a resource hub for low-income families, including a commercial kitchen to provide a family meals program, and storage for a diaper and clothing bank.

2023 Washington State Community Development Block Grant Awards:

  • City of Chewelah, $1.5 million for Civic Center improvements
  • City of Clarkston, $500,000 for Affordable Home Repair Program
  • City of George, $400,000 for Emergency Well 4 improvements
  • Jefferson County, $2 million for Early Learning and Family Support Center
  • Skagit County, $1,235,078 for Concrete Community Center revitalization

These grants add to more than $220 million in Washington Public Works Board investments in 61 critical community infrastructure projects announced yesterday.  Both programs report annual need continues to outstrip available funds.

The five CDBG-funded projects were selected from 14 applications seeking $17.2 million. The 2023 Public Works Board traditional construction program received applications in excess of $312 million – leaving that current funding cycle 29% oversubscribed, according the PWB Chair Kathryn A. Gardow. The Board, which also funds pre-construction and emergency projects on a rolling basis, has just $2.9 million remaining in pre-construction funds and $5.6 million in emergency funds. The Board anticipates action on pre-construction awards in October.

Commerce estimates the full extent of Washington’s infrastructure project backlog could be in the billions.

“State infrastructure funding from multiple sources plays an essential role in helping to build and maintain facilities that provide vital services – this work is foundational to our mission of strengthening communities,” said Commerce Director Mike Fong. “By partnering with communities and non-profits, this CDBG funding empowers each community to meet its own unique needs and priorities and help all Washingtonians thrive.”

The CDBG program provides funding in two phases – the competitive round announced today and remaining funds on a continuous basis. Approximately $5 million is available for projects in communities that may have difficulty accessing other funders, for funding deficits in existing CDBG projects, or for projects which are in need of gap funding.

More information, including total project costs and a map of the 2023 awards, and information on applying for funding, is available on the CDBG webpage.

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