First public hearing held for FY18 CDBG

By Kelsey Kimbler -

PREBLE COUNTY — The Preble County Board of Commissioners held its first public hearing for the FY18 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program on Monday, Feb. 12.

The intention of this meeting was to review the program, inform the local municipalities of what money they might be eligible for, and discuss important upcoming dates.

The CDBG program is a flexible program which provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs. Beginning in 1974, the CDBG program is one of the longest continuously run programs at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The CDBG program provides annual grants on a formula basis to 1209 general units of local government and States.

The program funds local community development activities, such as: affordable housing, anti-poverty programs, and infrastructure development.

The public hearing on Monday was not mandatory for funding, but it functioned as an informational session where village representatives could ask questions and discuss the program with commission staff.

Commission Deputy Clerk Sara Wilson informed those in attendance that there are a number of CDBG programs available to Preble County.

These programs include: Community Housing Improvement programs, Home Investment Partnership program funds, Residential Program Infrastructure, Economic Development Grant and Economic Development Public Infrastructure Grant programs, Downtown Revitalization program, allocation program, CDBG Neighborhood Revitalization program, CDBG Competitive Critical Infrastructure program, CDBG Target of Opportunity program grant, New Horizons Fair Housing program, and Homelessness Target of Opportunity.

“CDBG programs can fund a broad range of activities, including, but not limited to: economic development projects, Street and water supply, drainage and sanitary sewer agreements, park acquisition and improvements, demolition of unsafe structures, rehabilitation of housing and neighborhood facilities, and other related housing activities and services,” Wilson said.

“The activities must be designated to primarily benefit low to moderate income persons and aid in the prevention and elimination of slum and blight. If you remember, last year the State changed the way they were funding these projects. We were unable to apply for allocation money last year, therefore we were not able to apply for a Neighborhood Revitalization or a Downtown Revitalization project, because those are tied to allocation.

“Critical Infrastructure is now a standalone program and we are only allowed to have two at a time. Right now we have three. So, in order to be able to apply for another Critical Infrastructure grant, we would have to request a waiver from the State. This year Preble County will be applying to the Ohio Development Services Agency for funding under the 2018 allocation program. We anticipate receiving $200,000.

“Per program guidelines, we will only be able to apply for four allocation programs. We will be able to apply for the Neighborhood Revitalization program and the Downtown Revitilization program. These programs can only be applied to by the county. We will only be able to apply for one project, because we still have the Lewisburg Downtown Revitilization program open and it will not be finished in time to make us eligible for two projects.”

She reiterated, each activity submitted must meet one of the two goals: to benefit low or moderate income persons or to prevent or eliminate slum and blight. Per requirements, for Critical Infrastructure and Neighborhood Revitalization, the projects must benefit the area that is at least 51 percent low or moderate income persons. Income surveys may be used together for this information. The Neighborhood Revitalization application does have a section for community participation.

The Critical Infrastructure project does not require the same type of public participation.

The county is currently in an open CHIP grant with the City of Eaton, meaning that the county cannot apply for a CHIP grant this year. They will be eligible to apply for another in 2019 and due to the increased chance of funding, the county will most likely combine efforts with the City of Eaton once again, according to Wilson.

There was a Community Development Information Strategy (CDIS) meeting held in the Commission Chamber on Friday, Feb. 16. This meeting was mandatory for any villages who had interest in any funding over the next three years. Applications are to be submitted to Preble County no later than March 2, by noon. The second public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, March 21, at 1:3o p.m. The County Grant Application is due to the State on June 15.

By Kelsey Kimbler

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH