Crescendo is a national provider of Five-year Consolidated Plans (CONS Plans) and Community Needs Assessment services. Its consultants have conducted a diverse range of projects across the U.S. for more than 20 years. Crescendo’s Assessment as Action© model closely links key activities that simultaneously engage stakeholders, maximize citizen participation, and use data and innovative research techniques to create a positive cycle of change.
Why You Need to Do a Five-Year Consolidated Plan
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires state and local jurisdictions to assess their affordable housing and community development needs and market conditions and to make data-driven, place-based investment decisions every five years. The planning process helps identify and align housing and community development priorities for the following CPD formula block grant programs:
- Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program
- HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) Program
- Housing Trust Fund (HTF) Program
- Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) Program
- Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) Program
Crescendo has worked with numerous small to large municipalities across the United States to complete Needs Assessments and all or parts of CONS Plans. Aggregately, the CONS Plans will identify the current and anticipated needs of low- and medium-income residents – including those with special needs, vulnerable populations, and individuals and families experiencing homelessness, as well as evaluate the impact of existing initiatives. Project methodologies are collaboratively modified to meet each client’s unique needs and available resources; however, Crescendo’s integrated research always includes in-depth citizen participation, strategy development, and performance evaluation designed to meet HUD requirements.
Five-year Consolidated Plans typically include the following components:
- Community Needs Assessment
- Housing Market Analysis
- Strategic Plan
- Annual Action Plan (AAP)
In addition, accompanying reports often include the Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing and the Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report (CAPER) prepared within 90 days of the program year. Crescendo’s approach includes all of these pieces.
Community Needs Assessment
The Needs Assessment is a foundational component of the CONS Plan, as it provides citizen-participation-based feedback on current and emerging needs; a data-based, empirical basis to identify high-risk areas, validation of the impact of strategic initiatives in prior strategic plans; and, direction to future initiatives.
Crescendo’s Community Needs Assessment approach includes, but is not limited to, the following tasks:
- Analyze secondary research data. Due to Crescendo’s in-house statistical analysis capabilities, the firm applies advanced analysis and forecasting techniques to all data sets.
- Develop geocoded maps that illustrate high-need areas.
- Collaboratively develop and execute innovative Citizen Participation Plans.
- Prioritize community needs and strategies using Crescendo’s proprietary methods.
- Prepare / format documents for public comment and use entries using the IDIS reporting tool.
Housing Market Analysis
The Housing Market Analysis provides a comprehensive, data-based perspective of housing market conditions, homeless and special needs services and facilities, and community development assets in a community.
Crescendo’s proprietary data collection and analysis tool provides the rapid development of all CHAS-related tables and charts – allowing additional time for analysis and synthesis with other project material. Select other tasks include the following:
- Collaboratively analyze housing data (e.g., CHAS Database information), and incorporate demographic and other data to develop estimates of housing capacity, cost-burdened households, and expected housing needs by category.
- Develop census tract-level mapping systems.
- Prepare/format the Housing Market Analysis for use in the IDIS reporting tool.
Strategic Plan Development
The Strategic Planning process incorporates updates of existing plans, new strategies developed by City/County leaders, and insights from public comment and other expert insights. The Strategic Plan portion of the Consolidated Plan describes activities designed to address community housing-related needs, identifies community partners who will actively participate in activities, provides detailed timelines and measures of success, and links all activities to specific needs identified in the Needs Assessment and the Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing.
Strategic Planning activities are customized to meet each client’s unique needs, but at a high level approaches include the following:
- Review previous or existing Consolidated Plans and work with City/County leaders to update key quantitative and narrative aspects.
- Collaboratively develop and implement an innovative and thorough Citizen Participation Plan.
- Interview community leaders and finely hone strategies to address core needs and “move the needle” on core measures and metrics – doing so in a way that continually builds consensus around results.
- Use the eCon Suite / IDIS to submit information.
Other Consolidated Plan and Related Activities
Crescendo provides a comprehensive set of CONS Plan services that also include the following:
- Annual Action Plan (AAP)
The AAP provides descriptions of the community’s annual goals, plans, and resources designed to positively impact prioritized housing needs, efficiently deploy federal (and other) resources, meet public housing-related needs, and address other specific issues such as barriers to affordable housing, programs specifically to meet the needs of those experiencing homelessness, and broadband coverage.
- Update of the Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing
The update to the Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing (AI) serves as a core ingredient necessary for more finely focused strategies and will be used as a basis for strategic planning initiatives.
- Consolidated Annual Performance Evaluation Review (CAPER)
The Consolidated Plan is carried out through AAPs. Grantees report on accomplishments and progress toward Consolidated Plan goals in the consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report (CAPER).
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