E. Spencer will seek block-grant funds
By Steve Huffman
EAST SPENCER ó The town of East Spencer will apparently soon be working to secure money for the revitalization of one its neighborhoods through a Community Development Block Grant.
Michael Walser, a representative of Hobbs, Upchurch & Associates P.A., a consulting firm based out of Lexington, addressed members of the East Spencer Board of Aldermen during their monthly meeting Monday.
Walser said the town has been working to secure CDBG money to revitalize the Robin Circle neighborhood off South Long Street. It’s near the Paul Laurence Dunbar Center.
Walser said that because of the depressed state of the economy, the state is not seeking matching money to secure those CDBG grants, though the lack of matching funds means competition for such grants will be even stronger.
“It’s going to be extremely competitive,” Walser said of securing such grants.
Walser said he and others have driven the East Spencer area being considered for such grants and decided it definitely qualifies.
“There are significant housing needs in that area,” Walser said.
He said the state considers applications for CDBGs based on four criteria:
– The need for community revitalization, including need for water, sewer, street and drainage repairs. The East Spencer area definitely qualifies under those criteria, Walser said.
– The need for infrastructure improvements.
– Housing development projects.
– Economic development.
“They’re all designed to benefit communities and families of low-to-moderate income,” Walser told board members.
He said that in the competitive market in which the CDBGs will be awarded, it’s probably going to be necessary for at least 90 percent of the houses in the neighborhood to be of low-to-moderate incomes.
Walser said that in coming weeks, representatives of his organization and the town of East Spencer will be visiting houses in the Robin Circle neighborhood to interview residents and take pictures of their houses. Before those visits are made, residents will receive letters from the town telling them that such visits should be expected.
“We’re going to be asking people how much they make, and to allow us to take pictures of their home,” Walser said. “Sometimes, it’s tough for people.”
He said residents need to remember that information ascertained from those interviews and pictures won’t be shared with anyone other than CDBG representatives.
“They won’t go anywhere but to the state,” Walser said. “They won’t be passed around town.”
He said a second public hearing concerning the CDBGs will likely be held in September, a requirement before the loans can be secured. Walser said the maximum amount of those loans is typically $850,000.
“We’re going to be going door-to-door to document the need to the state,” Walser said.
Of the neighborhood in question, Walser said, “We rode it, and it definitely qualifies.”