City Officials Outline CDBG Activities

City officials have outlined how they plan to use more than $1.3 million in federal Housing for Urban Development Department funding.

On Monday, Vince DeJoy, city development director, detailed the 2014 action plan on how city officials plan to spend the federal funding received through the Community Development Block Grant and HOME programs. The city will be receiving $1,054,609 in block grant money and $281,273 for the HOME program.

DeJoy said 82.2 percent of the block grant money will go toward proposed low-to-moderate-income benefit activities. One plan is to allocate $160,000 toward neighborhood target area demolitions. This money will be used to provide demolitions to housing units in low-to-moderate-income areas that threaten public health and safety. The neighborhood target area infrastructure improvement program will received $155,167.

”This provides for upgrades of substandard curbing, sidewalks and streets in designated low-moderate target areas to assist in neighborhood revitalization,” DeJoy said.

Another program to receive funding is citywide owner occupied rehabilitation, which will receive $103,520. DeJoy said this money will be used to address code violations uncovered through mini sweeps performed by the city’s target area code enforcement officer. The money will be used to rehabilitate and repair houses with code violations for income-eligible homeowners.

Other programs to receive money include $90,000 to address buildings not compliant with the American With Disabilities Act, $90,000 for the downtown handicapped accessibility improvement program, $55,000 for a target area code enforcement officer and $40,000 for the owner-occupied emergency repair program.

The rest of the block grant money will go toward the proposed slums and blight activities. This includes $145,000 for the downtown greenlining facade improvement program. DeJoy said this leverages private dollars to assist downtown commercial business owners in improving the appearance of their storefronts.

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 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.

Most of the $281,273 HOME program money will also go toward citywide owner-occupied rehabilitation program. The city’s 2014 action plan is in year five of a five-year consolidation plan to align goals set by administration, city council and Jamestown Urban Renewal Agency.

Along with presenting how the money will be spent by the city, a second public hearing was held on the program. Only two people spoke during the public hearing session. One person asked if there could be a program to better inform people of housing inspection on buildings with rental apartments. The second city resident said he likes the city’s plan to demolish condemned buildings, but the city needs a plan on what to do with the empty lot after the house is torn down.

City residents still have a chance to address the city’s HUD funding. There is now a 30-day written comment period where residents can submitted their opinion on how the money should be used to city officials. The action plan will be available for viewing at the James Prendergast Library, 509 Cherry St.; the city of Jamestown website, jamestownny.net; and at the city’s Development Department office. Once the public comment session is over, city officials will present the plan for City Council adoption in May.