By Rick Hiduk
(exclusive to EndlessMtnLifestyles.com readers)
The Wyoming County Housing & Redevelopment Authority (H&RA) is now accepting applications for the 2019 round of Community Block Development Grants (CBDG). A public meeting for informational purposes is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 12, and project summaries are due to the H&RA offices in Nicholson by Friday, Sept. 27.
Approximately $236,000 has been made available by the state to distribute to county municipalities through the program. The Wyoming County Commissioners announced the grants during their Sept. 3 meeting.
Municipal leaders have criticized the H&RA in the past for announcing the grant cycle less than two weeks before applications were due. The short time frame prevented most of them, who meet just once per month, from acting on the offer. In some years, no applications were submitted, and the commissioners simply allowed the H&RA to slide the available funds into a general account for housing rehabilitation.
In addition to making the information available to municipalities about a month earlier this year, H&RA executive director Danielle Powell has expressed a willingness to work with municipal leaders, first responders and municipal water and sewer managers with eligible projects to successfully complete their applications for the PA Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).
“I’m not a door-shutter. We will work with them,” said Powell (above). “The county commissioners won’t make their final decision until the end of October. There’s plenty of time for us to accumulate everything we need.”
In previous years, the DCED had given special designation to several municipalities in Wyoming County for 51 percent or more of their population being low- to moderate-income. Much to Powell’s surprise, the DCED did not bestow that designation on any borough or township this year, and she therefore encourages all municipal leaders to take a serious look at the application and how it might be used in their respective communities.
Since no municipalities have preferences year, the primary goal of community planners should be ensuring that their projects meet at least one of three national objectives: 1) benefit low- to moderate-income persons; 2) prevention or elimination of slums or blight; and 3) address any immediate situation that poses a threat to the health or safety of a community.
“Eligibility requirements for this funding have been tightened, so we would encourage you to review your municipality’s need and, if it does not appear eligible, please contact is for assistance,” the commissioners advised municipal leaders in a letter mailed about two weeks ago.
With the special designations removed by the DCED, it will be necessary for any municipality to prove that a project specifically targets low- to medium-income persons. Presumed benefit projects, such as ADA renovations, do not require such quantification. In a letter about the funds issued by H&RA, grants administrator Lisa Hahn advised, “Please try to include in the brief letter of consideration for this request what national objective you will try to meet with the proposed project, as outlined in the actual application.”
Powell related that the information had been sent to municipal leaders using contact information provided to her by the Wyoming County County Commissioners’ office, and none of the emails were returned to her. Municipal leaders, directors of first response units, and managers of municipal water and sewer authorities who did receive an application and relevant information should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Powell and Hahn can be reached at 570-942-6155. The Wyoming County Housing & Redevelopment Authority offices are located at 133 S.J. Bailey Road, Nicholson.