Administered by the N.C. Department of Commerce’s Division of Community Assistance (DCA), the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program provides grants to local governments for projects that enhance the viability of communities by providing decent housing and suitable living environments, as well as expanding economic opportunities, for low- to moderate-income residents.
Sampson is seeking two grants through the program.
“This is 100 percent state money,” said county finance officer David Clack. “There’s no county dollars needed.”
Sampson County is eligible to receive $400,000 in CDBG Scattered Site funding in this year’s funding cycle. The primary objective of the CDBG Scattered Sites Housing program is to improve the housing conditions of very low-income households with incomes at or below 50 percent of area median income.
The money would be put to good use, as those eligible for CDBG funds are plentiful.
“Our waiting list has 458 people on it, not including the number of people who will call in after the ad runs,” said Clack.
Clack said DCA is accepting applications from counties whose June 2009 applications for CDBG Economic Recovery monies were unfunded. Sampson was one of them.
Sampson is seeking $500,000 of unspent CDBG-ER funds as part of the program, which focuses on communities with high levels of unemployment, and for which there will be job creation and “low-to-moderate income beneficiaries.”
As a requirement of the application, the proposed local project remains the same as in the June 2009 application. A letter of interest was submitted to the Division of Community Assistance by the Aug. 20 deadline. In it, Jefferson Strickland, chairman of the Sampson County Board of Commissioners, explained the need for the funds.
“We still desire to assist, through CDBG-Economic Recovery program funds, six low to moderate income households by providing scattered site replacement housing,” stated Strickland. “Historically, this has been determined to be our greatest need. The majority of the housing units are manufactured housing that are deteriorating rapidly, and in most cases the resident’s fixed income prevents them from being able to address these conditions.”
For the CDBG-ER program, there are three categories: Infrastructure, housing and special projects. Each project must meet a national objective and clearly identify the creation and retention of jobs for the project. Eligible projects must be “bid-ready,” ready to go to bid as soon as the applicant is awarded and all funding conditions are released.
“This is a ‘shovel ready’ project due to the fact that Sampson County has an abundance of applications on hand that are in need of replacement housing,” Strickland stated. “Sampson County will be ready to bid this project as soon as conditions are released and will be able to meet the deadline for expenditure of these funds.”
In meeting national objectives, the local project will provide for the retention of one full-time employee to oversee it and various contractors to complete the work, the chairman said.
“We believe the scattered site replacement housing project to be a prudent investment of funding in Sampson County where our unemployment rate for June was 8.4 percent, 83rd in the state,” Strickland noted. “While our unemployment rates are not as high as some of the other counties, there is a need for additional jobs in our rural, predominantly agricultural county where economic recovery has been slow to appear.”
Complete applications are due by Sept. 30, necessitating the public hearing prior to applying, Clack said.
Required public hearings were held last week for each CDBG application, during which no one spoke. A second public hearing will be held in October to receive any further comments on the board’s intention to apply for CDBG Scattered Site funds.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 121, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.