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Mar 10

2020 Census: City neighborhoods story

Posted on March 10, 2020 at 4:43 PM by Jessica VanderKolk

The City of Battle Creek is an entitlement community and, in this case, it’s good to be entitled.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development started this grant program in the 1970s, and that is when we first met the designation requirements.

What this means is that Battle Creek automatically receives a share of grant funds that help us do important work related to community needs, largely around housing.

Our eligibility for this program hangs on the fact that we have a population of at least 50,000. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated Battle Creek’s 2018 population at 51,247. This is a story to demonstrate why it is critically important that we remain above 50,000. To get that on record, we need every household to complete the 2020 Census this spring!

BC Counts logo final

The census count happens every 10 years, and is essentially a head count of every person living in the United States. The Census Bureau uses this data to compile statistics about our population that inform government programs and their funding – including the HUD entitlement grants.

Battle Creek benefits from a number of these grants, determined by a formula:

  • Community Development Block Grant
  • HOME Investment Partnership
  • Emergency Solutions Grant
  • Public Housing Authority funds

Entitlement also makes us eligible to apply for other, competitive, grants through HUD and the State of Michigan. We have received:

  • $1.8 million for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program 1
  • $12.8 million for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2
  • $350,000 Hardest Hit Fund Housing grants
  • $7.5 million Lead Hazard Control grants

The work we do with these funds benefits low- and moderate-income neighbors in Battle Creek. We do work to revitalize neighborhoods, improve economic development, and improve public infrastructure and services.

We do a range of activities to promote those goals, like inspecting and registering thousands of rental units in low-income areas, which helps ensure the properties are safe and liveable. We have rehabilitated hundreds of low-income senior citizens’ homes, and we run a Minor Home Repair Program for low-income homeowners who cannot otherwise afford repairs required to meet housing code standards. That program helps up to 50 households per year with health and safety, accessibility, and roofing projects.

Home before rehabilitation
Home after rehabilitation

We also have demolished vacant and blighted buildings around the city, and have purchased foreclosed homes and rehabilitated them to sell to low- and moderate-income families, thereby helping restore the market vitality in our core historic neighborhoods.

We are a responsive city government, working hard to understand our challenges and work on our strengths. These federal resources help us achieve a healthy and thriving community. If every person in our city is counted in the 2020 Census, this will help Battle Creek keep our entitlement status, and ensure that we can keep our momentum on efforts to revitalize our neighborhoods, making them strong, safe, and attractive places to live.