County looks for improvement projects for grant applications

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By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

The Madison County commissioners are gearing up for grant applications to improve public infrastructure, revitalize neighborhoods and rehabilitate residential housing.

Application deadlines are approaching quickly. The county plans to submit proposals in three areas funded through the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and administered by the State of Ohio.

CDBG Allocation

Each year, the county receives an allocation of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. The estimated allocation for fiscal year 2014 (starting Sept. 1) is $108,000. The county can use the money for up to three projects, all of which must benefit low- to moderate-income areas. One of those areas must be in London.

While the allocation is guaranteed, the county must submit project proposals. The deadline is June 20. The commissioners have sent project proposal forms to township, village and city officials, as well as local organizations. The forms are due back to the county by the end of March.

Whitaker Wright of CDC of Ohio will review the proposals, check them for eligibility, and help the county choose three to submit to the state. CDC is a planning firm hired by the commissioners to help administer the grants.

The 2013 allocation went toward bridge repairs in London, flood control in Mount Sterling, and services at the Madison County Health Partners Free Clinic.

CDBG Competitive Grants

Counties are eligible to apply for up to three $300,000 CDBG grants. The two-year grants are competitive, meaning they are not guaranteed.

Madison County is a year into one CDBG grant, a $300,000 grant for flood control in Mount Sterling (supplemented by the 2013 CDBG allocation). That leaves opportunities to apply for two more grants in this round of funding.

The commissioners already know one of those applications will be for neighborhood revitalization on the south side of London. First Baptist Church will host meetings to get public input on what is needed.

The commissioners have discussed several possibilities for the third application, among them infrastructure work in Somerford Township, South Solon or at Camp Wissalohican. Also mentioned were more bridge repairs.

As with the CDBG allocation, the commissioners are soliciting ideas from the townships, villages and city. Proposals are due by the end of March. The application deadline is June 20.

CHIP grant

The county also plans to apply for a grant through Community Housing Impact and Preservation (CHIP), a state program.

The two-year grants are competitive, meaning they are not guaranteed. The county is eligible to apply for one grant worth up to $400,000. The money must be used to repair or rehabilitate owner-occupied homes in low- to middle-income areas.

Because CHIP funding is dwindling, the state is encouraging communities to partner together to reduce the number of applications. Those that do are eligible to receive an extra $50,000. The Madison County commissioners plan to contact London officials to discuss the possibilities.

The county’s Housing Advisory Committee will meet at 10:30 a.m. March 24 at the commissioners’ office at the courthouse. Wright will review changes in the application process. Committee members will share their insight on the county’s housing needs. The CHIP grant application deadline is June 2.

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