Infrastructure & Strong Communities: Planning Grant Frequently Asked Questions

Communities do not need to pre-select which practice(s) they plan to adopt, but should have a strong commitment to making changes to land use in their communities that support affordable housing availability and/or compact development. In the application, communities are encouraged to pre-select the best practices that they believe are feasible and politically supported in their communities.

  • Municipalities, counties, and city/counties are eligible to apply for and receive funds. Housing authorities and other nonprofit organizations are not eligible on their own but can partner with municipalities and counties.
  • Tribal communities are not eligible for a planning grant under HB22-1304.

A minimum of 10% local match of the total project cost is required. An applicant experiencing financial hardship may request a reduced level of matching funds and must consult with their DOLA Regional Manager before submitting their application about a reduced match. Local match can include financial commitment from partners (e.g., COGs, housing authorities). In-kind match (e.g., staff time) does not count towards the match requirement. Program staff relies on input from the Regional Managers on match reduction requests. However, final decisions on local match are made after a thorough team discussion and have to be approved by DOLA leadership.

American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds may be used as a match for Strong Community grant funds. However, recipients should check U.S. Treasury guidance on the Colorado State Controller website and consult their own legal counsel. Guidance to date suggests that ARP funds may leverage other federal funds but not all federal funds will allow leveraging ARP funds. Please contact DOLA staff with any questions about matching funds.

Approximately $4,000,000 is available for awards. Individual Planning Grant Program awards are expected to be approximately $50,000 – $200,000. There is not a predetermined award limit.

No. Federal guidelines stipulate that all funds must be spent by October 31, 2026.

  • Awards may be used to cover administrative expenses such as funding salaries. Grant awards may only be used to supplement an existing position (e.g., extending a half-time position to a full-time position) or pay for a new position that is dedicated solely to the management of the award and policy adoption.
  • Note: DOLA will fund and expects to see thoughtful community and stakeholder engagement and communication process plans as part of strategy development.

No. Communities not intending to apply to the Infrastructure Grant Program may still apply to and be competitive for the Planning Grant Program. However, the application for a Planning Grant Program award must include plans to pursue at least one of the strategies on the list of land use best practices. This list of qualifying strategies is the same list for determining eligibility for the Infrastructure Grant Program.

Yes, but not on their own. Housing assessments and related studies are important tools to help communities better understand their housing needs. They’re also an opportunity to ensure strategies are developed to align with data and ensure equitable outcomes. However, housing needs assessments are not considered a qualifying strategy on their own for a community to access the Planning Grant; applicants must bundle a housing needs assessment request with one or more qualifying strategies.

Yes, this type of inventory can be done (and is encouraged) as long as the project also includes pursuing adoption of one of the strategies on the list of land use best practices.

No. The funds must be used to inform and develop strategies that align with strategies on the list of land use best practices. Local governments should contact their DLG Regional Manager or DOH Regional Development Specialist to discuss funding opportunities for pre-development planning work for a specific affordable housing development project.

The intent of the "Official Action" section of the application is to confirm that the elected body 1) is aware of and 2) approves of the intent to apply for grant funds (and the proposed project therein). Official action could be a motion by the Board that is made and approved in meeting minutes. Another option is where authorization has been delegated. Some jurisdictions will give a Town/City/County Manager the authority to submit applications up to a certain dollar amount without going to the Board; in that case you would submit the authorization. For Planning Grants, applicants are encouraged to submit a formal Resolution if possible because the elected body must eventually adopt the code or policy changes that are proposed in the application. Elected officials may approve of staff pursuing grant funding in general but DOLA wants to ensure the elected officials support the specific strategies in the application.

Evidence of official action needs to be submitted at the time of application. If the local government requires a formal hearing, then the hearing needs to be conducted before application submittal.

HB22-1304 defines “affordable housing” as up to 140% of area median income (AMI) for rental units and ownership units in most areas, and 160% AMI for ownership in rural resort communities. HB22-1304's definition of "affordable housing" does include specific income limits. Planning Grant Program grantees need to ensure that their adopted strategies align with the definition of affordable housing in the bill where relevant. However, DOLA recognizes that definitions of "affordable" may vary for different programs and statutes. A locally adopted definition of affordable housing may include AMI limits that are lower than those listed in HB22-1304 but may not exceed the limits set by the bill.

  • No aspect of the program precludes multi-jurisdictional applications.
  • The lead applicant needs to be a local government (county or municipality).
  • Overall, DOLA is supportive of multi-jurisdictional applications that are well thought-out and are composed of eager participants.
  • Multi-jurisdictional application considerations:
    • Is there evidence that this group has done similar projects together? Are all participants willing? What happens if after awarding, one of the local governments is no longer interested in participating?
    • Who plans to be the fiscal agent? This should be specified in the application.
    • In the application, DOLA will want to see evidence of support among all parties involved and a plan for coordination. This could look like letters of support from all participating local governments, as well as a letter of intent to enter into an MOU if awarded.
    • DOLA will likely make any awards contingent on a formal collaborative agreement (e.g., MOU) that outlines expectations of consultant time, outcomes, etc.
    • Is the plan to hire one consultant team to work with every local government? Then the lead local government would pay the invoices and manage the consultant, checking in with the cooperating local governments, etc.
    • If the plan is to hire multiple consultants, then it may make sense to have separate applications (one for each local government).
    • Each local government has to adopt their regulatory changes through their own public process.

  • It may be okay for a local government grantee to use a previously engaged consultant from a different project (e.g., general land use code update) on the Strong Communities Planning Grant work.
  • There needs to be a nexus between the previously procured/ongoing work (e.g., general land use code update) and the work that will be funded by the Planning Grant. Similarly, the consultant needs to be appropriate and qualified for the Strong Communities work.
  • If a local government applies and is awarded a grant, DOLA would specify in the grant agreement that the local government will work with the previously engaged qualified consultant for this work, if the local government followed its own procurement rules when selecting the consultant for the original project and utilized a competitive bid process.
  • The local government needs to provide DOLA with documentation of their original procurement process for getting the consultant as part of awarding and contracting documentation. The documentation must clearly explain that because a qualified consultant was retained recently to do similar work, it's not necessary for the local government to rebid the work.
  • It will be important for the consultant to give the work completed under the Strong Communities Planning Grant agreement a different project number (for invoice purposes) that delineates the contract work for Strong Communities from the original work. DOLA will look for this (as well as work dates) when reviewing reimbursement requests. Invoices need to be clear on which line items apply to the Strong Communities contract work. It's the responsibility of the local government grantee to ensure that reimbursement request documentation clearly shows what applies to the grant contract and what doesn't. For example, if there's a consultant invoice with multiple project numbers, the local government should redact or otherwise strike the work that's not relevant for the Strong Communities grant.


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