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Council authorizes application for CDBG housing program

The city of Creston will apply for $246,200 in community development block grant (CDBG) funds for owner-occupied housing rehabilitation of six homes after the city council unanimously approved moving forward in the application process during Tuesday’s meeting.

In addition, the city of Creston will commit $24,000 of local financial support for the proposed project. Those funds will be used to ensure a home meets Iowa’s minimum housing rehabilitation standards, lead-safe housing regulations and other guidelines approved by Iowa Economic Development Authority.

Southern Iowa Council of Governments will also commit $12,000 for assistance to homeowners, payable as a grant for each participant.

The proposed project will take place in the target area bounded by the BNSF railroad tracks to the north, South Sumner Street to the west, Taylor Street to the south and South Chetsnut Street to the east.

The need for the project was determined during the completion of a housing survey, homeowner pre-applications and city council meetings.

“We’ve already had right around 20 pre-applicants, and that’s cutting out about half of them who were over income or outside of the target area,” said Joel Lamb, regional planner for SICOG. “If we can get six of those that line up with all the guidelines for income requirements and everything else, that’s all we need for the program.”

Approximately 85 percent of the requested federal funds will be used to directly benefit low- and moderate-income persons. The remaining funds will help cover administrative costs.

“I think anytime we have an opportunity to help owner-occupied homes in the community, especially infill-type projects like this to help beautify the community, we’re headed in the right direction,” said Wayne Pantini, executive director of Union County Development Association. “If we are awarded this application, we would offer our services to help promote the program to those owners within that area, as well.”

Pantini said the UCDA wrote a letter of support for the application.

“We also have some letters from the hospital, Union County supervisors, the school, the college,” City Administrator Mike Taylor said. “The more letters we get, the better off we’ll be at the state level.”

Homeowners were asked to go through a pre-application process organized by SICOG. The pre-application process asked what types of improvements the homeowners were looking for and also for financial information.

“What happens if you don’t get enough people in that neighborhood?” Ward 5 Councilman Dave Koets asked. “Can you expand it or do you have to give the money back?”

“We’ve had that problem in the past where we haven’t had enough people want to do it,” Taylor said. “We have a lot of people interested. I don’t think we’ll have that problem. That (target area) covers the entire southern part of the community.”

The application for CDBG funds will be submitted to the Iowa Economic Development Authority on or before Friday, Jan. 13.

In other city council news:

• The council unanimously approved drawdown No. 11 for McKinley Lake and Hurley Creek WIRB project.

• The council unanimously approved a fuel contract with Agriland FS for calendar year 2017.

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