City Hosting Housing Needs Hearing

City residents will soon have another opportunity to improve housing, neighborhoods and economic development.

At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, the city’s Development Department will be hosting a public hearing so residents can assist development officials in how to use Community Development Block Grant and HOME funding. The public hearing will be held on the second floor, in the Jamestown City Council chambers, of the municipal building located at 200 E. Third St.

Laura Bernsohn, city planning and research specialist, said the information provided during the public hearing will be used in the city’s 2014 action plan that will be given to the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department.

“The exercise is to get some basic public input on areas that need work. It is an open forum where people can speak their mind,” she said. “They let us know specific things we can do from (Americans With Disabilities Act) accessibility for streets or public facilities like the library or city hall. If people are having housing issues, they want a specific house knocked down, they can tell us. It is pretty open.”

Bernsohn said the public hearing is held every year. In order to keep track of community priorities and new program ideas, city officials have developed an online survey. People can complete the survey by going to Also, hard copies of the survey are available upon request.

Bernsohn said after the public hearing is held, the Development Department will create the 2014 action plan. Then there will be another public hearing held with City Council to review the action plan. City officials do not know how much funding they will receive in Community Development Block Grant and HOME Funding for this year. Bernsohn said officials usually find out in May. In 2013, the city received $1,070,178 in Community Development Block Grant money and $274,227 in HOME funding.

“We usually create our own (plan) based on previous years’ (funding),” she said. “Once we get the final numbers, we plug those in (to the plan).”

Target areas for this year’s block grant money include Bush and Bowen streets; McKinley Avenue and Colfax Street; and the North Side Pride region which includes Grant, Liberty, Lincoln, Falconer, East Eighth, East Seventh, and the north side of East Sixth streets and Lakeview Avenue.

Bernsohn said the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department has three goals for block grant funding. One is to prevent or eliminate slums or blight, secondly to benefit low-to-moderate-income residents and finally to meet a particular urgent need for the municipality.

The federal Community Development Block Grant program stipulates that at least 70 percent of funding must be used for low-to-moderate-income benefit activities, and no more than 30 percent of funds can be used for slums and blighted areas. Activities that are ineligible include the development of buildings for the general conduct of government, political activities, equipment purchases and general operating, maintenance and salary expenses of local governments.