Public Hearing Held on Community Block Grant Program

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cityhallBy Terry Rogers

On Monday, November 24, 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 Brad Whaley, 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.

“This year, we hope to have $2 million in funds designed to help homeowners make necessary repairs on their property,” Mr. Whaley explained. “The money is given as very low-interest loans to low to moderate income homeowners. There are specific income criteria and other requirements that must be met in order for them to be eligible.” Some of the requirements are that the home must be homeowner occupied, either insured or able to be insured and the homeowner must agree to secure the property with a lien.

Mr. Whaley explained that there were currently four projects underway in Sussex County and that there were 15 names on a waiting list for the funding. Councilman Owen Brooks asked if those on the waiting list could expect to get their projects completed, and Mr. Wheatley said that the organization works down the list as funding is provided.

“Each county is different,” Mr. Biddle explained. “Last year, projects were completed using the funding in Sussex County, but no Kent County projects in Milford were completed. In addition the income limits for the two counties were different as well. Building inspectors in town are made aware of the available funds which is why Mr. Biddle and Mr. Whaley were requesting assistance from council to get the word out to the inspectors.

Mayor Bryan Shupe explained that the Economic Development Committee in Milford had recently approved microloans for businesses in town that were similar to these loans. He suggested that this could help owners of residential properties perform necessary repairs to their homes. For more information on the Community Block Grant Program, individuals can contact Mr. Biddle in Kent County at 302-744-2480 or Mr. Whaley in Sussex County at 302-855-7777.

In another public hearing, council members reviewed a minor sub-division request from Matthew and Jennifer Feindt for a duplex located at 303 Pierce Street. According to City Solicitor, David Rutt, the property was oddly shaped and required several different variances before the Board of Adjustments and the Planning Commission. The Feindts had received approval from both and were now requesting final approval from City Council. There were no public comments regarding the request and it was approved unanimously by council.

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