Costa Mesa directs $1.2M in federal grants to housing assistance programs, groups

Costa Mesa homeowner Mary Parpal in 2022 with volunteers from Labor of Love.
Costa Mesa homeowner Mary Parpal with volunteers from Labor of Love in 2022. Run by the nonprofit Trellis International, the initiative will receive $30,000 in grant funding.
(File Photo)

Continuing a mission to address pressing social issues for residents in need, particularly around housing, Costa Mesa officials Tuesday allocated $1.2 million in federal community development block grants and more than $558,000 for housing rehabilitation grants and loans.

The commitment helps fund efforts undertaken by the city and local nonprofits that assist low-income families, the unhoused or those at risk for homelessness. Its funds may also be used for staffing, loans and housing programs benefiting low-income residents.

City grant administrator Mikelle Daily explained Costa Mesa is eligible for the federal CDBG and HOME Investment Partnership Grant programs — operated under the U.S. Department of Urban Housing and Development (HUD) — because more than 51% of city residents earn less than 80% of Orange County’s Area Median Income, set at $88,400 for one person or $126,250 for a family of four.


“We’re granted this money from the federal government, and we’re responsible for it,” Daily told the City Council in Tuesday’s regular meeting. “That means we need to track it and ensure we have an effective and efficient delivery of our services and we’re complying with all the HUD program requirements.”

Council members reviewed spending priorities laid out in a five-year consolidated strategic plan that is reviewed annually, the latest of which ends with fiscal year 2024-25.

Of the HOME funds, $255,349 will be used to provide approximately 10 grants and one rehabilitation loan, while another $150,000 will be used for tenant-based assistance.

This year’s action plan identified various categories and projects to which CDBG funds could be allocated, including $385,000 for two full-time and one part-time community improvement officers to connect eligible property owners and residents with resources to help resolve substandard housing conditions and quality of life issues.

Another $414,331 will be used to replace the roof at the city’s Senior Center, while another $30,000 will help partially fund a caseworker to help direct senior center clients to agencies and services that promote physical, mental, emotional and social health.

Those expenditures left the city with another $115,714 to be used toward public service grants for local nonprofits whose social service programs primarily benefit low- and moderate-income individuals and families.

City officials offered $7 million to buy the motel outright but have failed to close a deal. Anaheim authorized eminent domain afterward.

May 22, 2024

Interested organizations were invited to apply for up to $30,000 in grants by a Feb. 9 deadline and have their proposals considered by a council-appointed Housing and Public Services Grant Committee, which met March 7 to decide how to distribute the funds. Although eight programs applied, only five were selected for amounts just below $30,000, because the city’s CDBG allocation from HUD was about 4% less than the prior fiscal year.

“It was a night of robust discussion and difficult decisions, when there are so many who are in need in Costa Mesa,” committee member Becks Heyhoe told the council. “[So] the committee really worked to focus on the sub-populations the City Council has identified they want to make investments in — people experiencing homelessness, seniors and youth.”

As such, the committee recommended $28,500 for Families Forward, which targets homelessness prevention efforts at households with children; $28,500 to Human Options, a domestic violence prevention group; $23,750 for Project Hope Alliance, a youth homelessness prevention organization; $14,464 for a job assistance program run by the Boys & Girls Club of Central Orange Coast and $20,500 to Trellis International, which organizes an annual Love Costa Mesa service day and a year-round neighbor assistance program called Labors of Love.

“I do want to thank the city for awarding us this CDBG grant two years in a row,” said Reina Cuthill, director of Trellis’ Neighboring Initiative, which hired a part-time coordinator with the grant. “This focused effort is crucial to the quality of the program for our neighbors to feel seen, heard and loved.”

Two programs proposed by Community SeniorServ, Inc. — Meals on Wheels and a Lunch Cafe that lets seniors socialize around communal meals — sought $30,000 grants but were not selected, staff explained, because the programs could continue to operate with or without the grants.

Mayor John Stephens, however, moved to direct staff to incorporate into the city’s 2024-25 budget, which is still being worked on, a means of giving the five approved recipients and Community SeniorServ, Inc. full $30,000 grants.

“I do believe there are places in the budget that our creative financial staff can find to fund these programs,” he said. “We’ve already talked at length about Love Costa Mesa Day — I think we need to put our money where our mouth is.”

Stephen’s motion passed 6-0 (Councilwoman Andrea Marr was absent).