Officials, residents discuss housing issues
The crowd was small, but the discussion was lively during a community meeting about neighborhood development Thursday evening at City Hall.
The group of about 15 residents and city officials touched on the need for heavier code enforcement and how to best use federal funds the city receives for projects to improve housing and infrastructure.
Most of the people at the meeting said Salisbury’s biggest housing problem is vacant homes with absentee landlords.
The houses are left unkept and deteriorate over time.
Information gathered from the meeting goes into the city’s Housing and Community Development Plan, which the city has to present to the federal Housing and Urban Development Department in order to receive grant funds.
Trey Cleaton, a senior planner with the city, said Salisbury has been getting the grant funds for over 15 years. But due to cuts at the federal level, the amount of money HUD gives out each year has been decreasing. Salisbury received around $275,000 in funding this past year.
Depending on the amount of funding, the city can do 5 to 10 projects, such as repairing roofs to fixing sidewalks, a year.
It may not seem like a lot, but Janet Gapen, the city’s planning director, said it “absolutely” is effective.
The HUD grants come in two forms: Community Development Block Grants and Community Service Block Grants. Development block grants go toward improving infrastructure and existing housing and building new homes while service grants are focused on alleviating poverty. The funds primarily have to be used in neighborhoods with low to moderate household incomes.
The city’s HUD plan runs for five years, and the current cycle ends next June, so city planners must have a new plan ready in the spring.
At least one more community input meeting will be held, Cleaton said. But the meeting’s date is not set.
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