Action Plan Approved for Community Development Block Grants – Henry County Times
At its August 2 meeting, the Henry County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved action plans for fiscal year 2022 related to the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Investment Partnership programs. real estate (HOME).
Both CDBG and HOME are funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, with the county’s annual allocation determined by a formula that takes into account population, income levels, and housing stock. This year, Henry received $1,042,369 and $512,877 respectively through the two initiatives.
Council heard a presentation from County Community Development Manager Shannan Sagnot. In her remarks, she described the expense items.
Infrastructure improvements for things like water, sewer, sidewalks and streets make up $603,896 of the $1,042,369 CDBG award. What remains will go to front improvements for small businesses, utilities such as the food bank and rental assistance, and administration costs.
Sagnot also noted that an additional $190,224.48 was being reprogrammed from a previous CDBG allocation specific to COVID relief. The county initially overestimated administration costs and is now reallocating those funds to utilities.
Although Henry has been receiving CDBG dollars since 2012, this is the first year he has received funding through HOME. Of the $512,877 awarded, nearly half will be used for down payment assistance. Other funds will go to housing assistance for tenants as well as assistance to community housing development organizations.
Housing assistance arrangements under HOME, and these were the subject of a long conversation among Council members. County Chair Carlotta Harrell stressed the importance of getting those much-needed dollars into the hands of residents facing rising costs in a shrinking economy.
“You have a lot of people renting, and when it’s time to renew their lease, they raise the rent by $100, $200, or even $300,” Harrell said. “If you have a fixed income or a minimum wage job, $100 makes a difference in whether you can stay in your apartment or house.”
District IV Commissioner Vivian Thomas added, “If we want to help people get to a better place, we have to give them the opportunity to rebuild. We will help them in this step so that they can absorb new costs.
Sagnot believes the down payment assistance set aside will be essential in helping Henry residents purchase a home. She also praised the flexibility of the program.
“The big difference [compared to other grant programs] is that individual households are not restricted in the choice of home,” she said. “They can look on the open market…we’ll have a list of approved banks they can go through.”
The last topic of conversation was homelessness. Specifically, District II Commissioner Dee Clemmons wants to see the county increase its commitment in this area.
“I would love to see Henry County do something for the homeless population,” she said.
Federal guidelines limit spending of HOME funds to permanent or transitional housing. However, county management plans to revisit the matter in the near future. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is more flexible. The county may be able to use part of its ARPA allocation to invest in homeless services.