Last updated: March 18. 2014 6:30PM - 621 Views
By William Laney wlaney@civitasmedia.com

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LIMA — In a move toward trying to administer a federal program more fairly, homeowners seeking Community Development Block Grant money for home repair work may have to wait if they have received funds in the last five years.

Allen County commissioners approved Tuesday a request by Lima-Allen County Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Thom Mazur to change the policy and operations manual regarding how to reward future CDBG funds.

The commissioners had already worked to refine the language with members of Lima’s WSOS Community Action Commission, which is a nonprofit agency whose purpose is to reduce poverty and to help low-income people become self-sufficient.

“What we are going to try to do is once they are a recipient of the federal funding then we are going to push them back to end of the applicant pool, sort of speak, for at least a five-year period and then they could come back in,” Mazur said. “Basically we are trying to be fairer with the disbursement of the funds.”

Homeowner rehabilitation, through CDBG funds, is one of the most common community development programs administered nationwide for low- to moderate-income households. The funds provide a wide range of flexibility with rehabilitation of projects and design considerations. Grantees can choose to do emergency repair programs, spot rehabilitation or full-house rehabilitation.

Mazur said in Allen County those funds are primarily awarded for home repair and rehabilitation. Program funds are disbursed by the Lima-Allen County Regional Planning Commission, but the program is under the control of the county commissioners.

Mazur also spoke to the commissioners about a hearing set for 1:30 p.m. April 2 at the Regional Planning Commission office at 130 W. North St., regarding another CDBG initiative called the formula program.

“Basically, the formula program is a capital improvement program that eligible communities can apply for and it is done on behalf of the low- to moderate-income population, but it is administered by a local government,” Mazur said. “It is available so if a community or subdivision has deteriorated water lines, or a sewer line project, a highway project, a sanitary sewer project, something along those lines that is critical to maintaining the viability of that community and the continued community development while still serving a low- to moderate-income population then it can apply for this program.”

Mazur said the formula programs are for political subdivisions, not necessarily for housing rehabilitation projects although that could be a component of the political subdivision’s application. The grant program typically runs with the calendar year.

He said the public hearing is to talk about the formula program and the county’s application for funds from the federal government.

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