Council to Approve Projects to Spend HUD Money | News, Sports, Jobs

The city council this week approved a list of $2 million projects and programs to be funded with the money Altoona will receive this year from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Community Development Block Grant money and Home Investment Partnerships (HOME) program funding will go to a combination of one-time projects and programs that the city funds each year with its HUD stipend — although some projects be undertaken by agencies that receive funding each year for such work.

Community Development Department staff proposed the projects this spring based on the priorities of the city’s current five-year plan. “consolidated regime” which covers 2020-24, said CDBG Director Mary Johnson.

The city’s top priority is housing, including new construction, rehabilitation and fair housing vigilance, Johnson said.

The second priority is community development, including the construction of facilities, support for public services, elimination of blight and accessibility.

The next priority is economic development, including employment support, the provision of financial assistance and access to transportation.

The CDBG program requires that 70% of a municipality’s funding be spent on helping people with low to moderate incomes, Johnson said.

The program limits slum clearance and degradation expenditures to 30% of a municipality’s funding and allows 20% to be spent on program administration.

The total cost of CDBG projects is $1.7 million, while the total cost of HOME projects is $382,000.

Allocations for one-time CDBG projects:

* $350,000 to install vinyl siding on 26 buildings in Altoona Housing Authority’s Fairview Hills low-income housing development in Logantown.

* $100,000 to build a 35-bed homeless shelter and affordable Family Services Inc. apartments on North Branch Avenue. The homeless shelter project has received several grants over the years, Johnson said.

* $66,000 for decorative lampposts along East Cherry Avenue between Kettle Street and Juniata Gap Road;

* $55,000 to replace standards and fencing and install a non-slip surface at Donald Witherspoon basketball courts in the 5th District.

Allocations for recurring or potentially recurring CDBG programs:

* $342,000 for loans for the rehabilitation of single-family homes owned by low- to middle-income people.

* $319,000 to the Department of Community Development to manage the CDBG program and other efforts, including developing a new comprehensive city plan and promoting fair housing through education, monitoring, research and community involvement.

* $200,000 to resurface streets in low-to-moderate income neighborhoods.

* $150,000 for the acquisition and demolition of damaged buildings and for securing these buildings before demolition. The city has funded this program for years, although there was a hiatus last year when funds were allocated from the general fund.

* $75,000 for the Nehemiah Project to provide free meals to anyone in need in their neighborhood.

* $50,000 for emergency roof replacement of homes occupied by low-income homeowners. The program is new, but could become an annual effort, according to Johnson.

HOME Funding Allocations:

* $180,000 for kitchen and hallway improvements at Evergreen Manors, which is operated by Improved Dwellings for Altoona. IDA is the city’s community housing development agency. It must therefore receive at least 15% of HOME funding from a municipality.

* $163,000 for the rehabilitation of rental units that are to become accessible to income-eligible tenants. It requires 50% consideration from the beneficial owners.

* $38,000 for administration.

The city will submit the projects to HUD for final approval.

The Mirror’s staff writer, William Kibler, is at 814-949-7038.

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