Public Hearing Held on Community Block Grant Program

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On Monday, October 28, Milford City Council held a public hearing regarding the Community Block Grant Program in accordance with Section 106 Review Process established by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. The public hearing was designed to encourage input from citizens and agencies regarding funding available through the Community Block Grant Program, which is administered by the United States Department of Housing and Development (HUD).

Albert Biddle from Kent County Levy Court and Mike Jones, Senior Project Manager for the Sussex County Community Development and Housing Department provided information to the council and public regarding funding available through the grant program for home repairs needed to bring repair substandard housing. Projects include replacing doors and windows, roof repairs, kitchen and bathroom replacements, as well as minor foundation work.

“Last year, we performed forty-eight rehabs, including doors, windows, and roofs, in south Milford,” said Mr. Jones. “Our main goal is to fix homes for those low-income families that can’t afford the repairs necessary to keep the weather out of their house.” There is a $15,000 maximum for the grants, and there are income limits that are different for each county

“The limit in Kent County for a one-person household is $33,150, while in Sussex County the limit is $33,350,” Mr. Biddle explained. “The limits rise as the number of people in the household rise. Applications are due into our offices by the end of February, and funding begins with the start of the fiscal year, which is July 1, 2014.” Mr. Jones also explained that the more applications the program receives, the easier it is to show need to the federal government.

“If we demonstrate need, more money becomes available,” Mr. Jones said. “Therefore, we need council and other citizens to get the word out to homeowners that this funding is available.” When asked by Councilman Skip Pikus if the homeowner had to own the property with no liens, such as a mortgage, Mr. Jones explained that there could be mortgages against the property. However, the deed, or title in the case of a mobile home, had to be in the name of the person applying for the grant, and that the person submitting the application must live in the home they are requesting to have repaired.

“Do homeowners contact you directly?” Councilman Pikus asked. Mr. Jones explained that homeowners contact the agency directly, which is why he and Mr. Biddle were talking to council about the funding, as they needed the word to get to homeowners who may need their assistance.

“We usually ask our building inspectors and other employees who are out in town working to inform the public of the availability of this funding,” City Manager Richard Carmean explained. “I also want to say that when these repairs are completed, they are not temporary repairs, but are long-term fixes, so the homeowner is not faced with an additional expense in a few years.” Mr. Biddle said that, in many cases, when his agency provided funding for items such as new doors or windows on a home, other neighbors follow suit and begin fixing up their home.

For more information on the Community Block Grant Program, individuals can contact Mr. Biddle in Kent County at 302-744-2480 or Mr. Jones in Sussex County at 302-855-7777.

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