Community Block Grant program seeks applicants

DSHA seeking applicants for Community Block Grants

On Monday, December 14, Milford City Council heard a presentation from Brad Whaley, Director of the Community Block Grant Program in Sussex County and Michael Miles, Supervisor of the same program in Kent County, explaining how the program benefits low- to moderate-income property owners. The program is funded by the Delaware State Housing Authority.

“This is HUD funding designed to assist low to moderate income residents with housing issues,” Whaley said. “We primarily use that for housing rehabilitation projects, small infrastructure, demolition, sewer and water hookups. In order to qualify, a household must be at 80 percent of the median income. For a one-person household in Sussex County, this means an annual income of no more than $42,000. The annual income rises by about $6,000 for each additional person who lives in the home. The funding is designed to keep housing stable and we complete a lot of repairs on roofs, doors, windows and HVAC systems.”

Since the program began, Milford residences in Sussex County received $200,000 and the program expects to expend $70,000 in the same area for 2020. Whaley explained that one home is under contract and a second in the bidding process. There are about 12 projects on a waiting list on the Sussex side of Milford.

“Much of what Brad said is the same on the Kent side,” Miles said. “We did try to get one application processed in FY2019, but that project did not happen. We are looking to put some funds in the Kent side of Milford. We are required to have at least four homes in Milford on our waiting list and, at the present time, we only have three. We are here to help the residents of Milford and need to add at least one more to our waiting list. The income limits on the Kent side are slightly different with a single member household qualifying with an income of $38,300.” The waiting list requirement is necessary so that Milford can be designated a “target area” by DHSA, which opens up funding.

“When a property is identified, whether because of a code violation inspection or another reason, we send someone out to help the property owner complete the application,” Whaley said. “Our application is 40 pages long and it can be very intimidating. We help them fill it out and get the documentation they need to verify income, verify the number of people in the home, subsidies and more. This is completely income-based so we do have quite a bit of information to complete which is why the application is so long.” Whaley stated that HUD requires that lead-based paint, historical property and other guidelines also be followed.

When a property receives a Community Block Grant, HUD requires that a lien be placed on the property. Miles explained that there are no payments and no interest added to the lien. The lien is only paid if the property owner passes away or sells their home. The grant can be transferred to someone else who qualifies as low- to moderate-income. Miles pointed out that there is no requirement to remain in the home for a certain number of years after accepting the grant.

“In the past, the lien was for 15 years if the project cost more than $25,000,” Whaley said. “This year, if the project is less than $20,000, the lien is for five years and if it is $25,000, it is for ten years. The lien reduces each year so at the end of the five or ten year period, the mortgage is released.”

City Council voted seven to zero to support the Community Development Block Grant Program. Those who want more information should contact Rob Pierce, City Planner, at 302-424-8396, Extension 1311.

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