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Warren County delays action on awarding $700K in federal grants

Published: Tuesday, April 18, 2017 @ 11:45 AM


            Lebanon hoped to fix Cambridge Court with federal funds through U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Staff photo by Lawrence Budd
            Lawrence Budd
Lebanon hoped to fix Cambridge Court with federal funds through U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Staff photo by Lawrence Budd(Lawrence Budd)

The Warren County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday postponed approval of $700,000 in federal funding this year for a variety of projects due to questions about the funding program’s future.

The board closed the second public hearing required before designating which projects are to be funded through community development block grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

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“At this point, HUD has not told us what our allocation is,” Susanne Mason, the county’s grants administrator, said during the hearing, required by federal law.

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Typically local governments hear from HUD by February about how much money will actually be available for the block grants, Mason said.

This year, Mason said there was no word on funding or whether the Trump administration would cut this HUD program, as proposed during the presidential election.

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If funded, Lebanon would receive the most, $277,900 for road work on Cambridge Court, Georgetown Drive, Raintree Trail and Winding Way.

Franklin Twp. is to receive $160,000 for Harriet and Olive avenues and Mentz Road repairs.

The county planned to use $90,000 for program administration.

In addition, the county planned to provide through HUD:

$64,500 for housing and feeding the homeless through the Interfaith Hospitality Network;

$60,000 to Deerfield Twp. for engineering on Davis Court and Rich Road;

$42,000 to the Abuse and Rape Crisis Shelter of Warren County for housing assistance for victims of domestic violence;

$19,145 to the Village of Butlerville for a playground update.

In response to a question from Commissioner Shannon Jones, Mason said she had notified the proposed recipients of the status of their application for funding.

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“They know what our intentions are,” Mason said.

With Commissioner Dave Young absent, Jones and Commissioner Tom Grossmann gave the nod to support plans by the county’s economic development office to lobby for the program.

Last month, the Trump administration proposed budgets for federal agencies including HUD.

“The blueprint reflects the President’s commitment to support HUD’s critical functions that provide rental assistance to low-income and vulnerable households and to help work-eligible families achieve self-sufficiency. It also recognizes a greater role for State and local governments, and the private sector to address community and economic development needs. ” according to a press release.”A more detailed program-by-program budget proposal will be announced in May.”

In addition to the block grants, HUD which has a budget of about $50 billion, provides rental assistance and promotes home ownership through the Federal Housing Administration. FHA underwrites about one in six mortgages issued in the U.S. and enforces federal fair housing laws.

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