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March 31, 2013

City announces block grant goals

Federal funds to be used on exterior repairs.

A senior housing development going up along North Washington Street will be the largest single beneficiary of federal block grant funds this year, Kokomo city officials announced Wednesday.

Owners of downtown and near-west side properties, including rental owners, will be the other major targets for the federal funds. The dollars are made available through the Community Development Block Grant program, administered through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight said his goals for this year’s CDBG allotment are jobs and education.

“Projects that employ the local workforce are important to our economy. And, as I have said before, improving our education levels will continue to be a goal every year of my administration,” Goodnight said.

About $370,000 will be reserved for the city’s Neighborhood Housing Renewal program, which offers property owners matching funds to rehabilitate the exteriors of buildings.

This year, the city will make the funds available for an area roughly bounded by Madison Street to the north, Indiana Avenue to the west, Jay Street to the east, and Taylor street to the south, apart from the downtown area, which will include properties as far south as Walnut Street.

Another $300,000 will be used for infrastructure improvements at the site of a senior housing development going up at Washington and Taylor streets.

The city is planning to install new flooring at the Family Service Association’s local domestic violence shelter, and another $1,000 will go toward the Howard County Extension Homemakers’ First Books for Kids program.

As it does every year, the city will use part of the funding to cover the costs of administering the program. All told, the city is expecting to receive around $850,000 this year from HUD.

Each year, the CDBG program goals are developed after a public meeting and consultation with members of the public, nonprofit organizations and local officials.

City officials will submit the proposed projects to the federal government sometime before May 15. Funds will be available on or after July 1, pending approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The city is basing this year’s allocations on what was received last year, although the exact amount remains uncertain. Last year’s allotment was a 6 percent decrease from 2011’s allotment, which was in turn a 16 percent decrease from the 2010 allotment.

As a second-class city, based on population, the city gets an annual block grant, which must be used entirely within low- to moderate-income neighborhoods.

Residents in the target area who are interested in participating in the exterior renovation program should contact the city’s Department of Development at 765-456-7375.

Scott Smith can be reached at 765-454-8569 or at scott.smith@kokomotribune.com.

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Kokomo Tribune eEdition, or our print edition

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