11/28/08 — Wayne to receive $400,000 housing grant

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Wayne to receive $400,000 housing grant

By Steve Herring
Published in News on November 28, 2008 1:46 PM

A $400,000 grant announced this week for Wayne County will allow the county to tackle housing needs not being addressed by its Community Development Block Grant.

No local match is required to receive the grant.

Commissioners will be briefed on the grant proposal at their Tuesday meeting and will be asked to approve a grant project budget ordinance.

Wayne is one of 30 counties to receive Community Development Scattered Site Housing Block Grants totaling $12 million. The grants were announced by Gov. Mike Easley.

The Scattered Site Housing grant program provides county governments with $400,000 every three years on a rotating basis with money targeted to very low-income homeowners for rehabilitation or, if necessary, relocation.

It is the second or third time that the county has received the grant, County Manager Lee Smith said.

Wayne commissioners agreed to apply for the grant last month after being briefed by David Harris of RSM Harris Associates, the county's Community Development Block Grant project director.

Smith said he was not surprised that the application had been approved so quickly.

"This is pretty standard," he said. "This is about the time you find out about them. I think we have a pretty good program."

Harris told commissioners in October that the $400,000 Single Family Rehabilitation project is different from Community Development Block Grant funds in that it targets owner-occupied, single-family homes with a household income of below 80 percent of median income and with at least one elderly or handicapped occupant who is eligible for assistance.

It is designed to rehabilitate housing, not replace it.

The grant funds may be used for administration, legal and other necessary services. Between $5,000 and $48,000 can be spent per house.

These types of projects are "less intensive" than the demolition and relocation and new housing construction under Community Development Block Grant housing projects, Smith said.

Smith said a "running list" is kept of housing needs in the county as people call in for help.

"Social services will call and say they have a client who does not have heat or has a damaged roof," Smith said.

The information is passed along to Harris, whom Smith calls the "guru" of community assistance in the state. Harris checks the property to determine its condition and whether it qualifies.

Smith called the list a "living document" that constantly changes.

Sometimes a person who has been on the list for a while may be moved down on the list if someone with more severe needs is identified.

The grant funds my be used in the county's municipalities, except for Goldsboro which falls under different guidelines, Smith said.

Harris will be contacting the municipalities to determine what housing needs they may have.

To receive funds, counties must submit a detailed plan to the N.C. Department of Commerce's Division of Community Assistance. The plan must provide details of how funds will be used to meet those housing needs.

The other counties that received grants were Alexander, Ashe, Bertie, Bladen, Camden, Caswell, Columbus, Franklin, Gates, Gaston, Halifax, Harnett, Henderson, Haywood, Lee, Madison, McDowell, Montgomery, Northampton, Onslow, Pender, Person, Polk, Rowan, Scotland, Surry, Transylvania, Warren, and Yancey.

The federal Community Development Block Grants provide money to the state from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The N.C. Department of Commerce's Division of Community Assistance administers the program for North Carolina.

Communities seeking more information about Comm-unity Development Block Grants and how to apply for the grants should visit the Department of Commerce's Division of Community Assistance Web site at:

www.nccommerce.com /en/CommunityServices/ CommunityDevelopment Grants/index.htm.