Public hearings for pass-through grants

By LIAM MAYO
Posted 6/21/22

MONTICELLO, NY — Even when the federal government is spending money, that money comes in some fractional way from the pocketbooks of individual people.

The Community Development Block Grant …

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Public hearings for pass-through grants

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MONTICELLO, NY — Even when the federal government is spending money, that money comes in some fractional way from the pocketbooks of individual people.

The Community Development Block Grant (CBDG) program provides grants from the federal U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, supporting housing and economic activities to develop viable urban communities; the money for those grants comes from a federal pool. But those are still public funds, and leaders argued that when it’s Sullivan County’s communities getting developed, it’s important that Sullivan County’s public have a say.

The Sullivan County Legislature did just that on June 16, holding a pair of public hearings on CDBG program grants within the county.

The first hearing updated the county’s public on its outstanding CDBG program grants.

Jill Weyer, deputy commissioner of the Sullivan County Division of Planning, Community Development and Real Property, provided updates on those projects, as that division administers the county’s CDBG program grants.

Healthy Kids Programs, a regional childcare provider, was awarded $180,000, and planned to finish spending its money by August 8. That grant created two day care centers in Monticello.

The county had received CDBG funding to assist with affordable housing, financing a project to assist around 15 homeowners. It could only help 12, due to rising costs. “It’s a lot of moving parts to kind of keep these real estate transactions moving, but it’s really important to get affordable home ownership into the county so we think this project is worth it.”

The federal government seemingly agreed, and awarded the county another $1,475,000 earlier in the year to expand that program. The new funding will assist 10 homebuyers with down payments on their homes, will assist five homeowners with houses in need of repair and will replace five mobile homes for around $125,000 each, Weyer told the River Reporter earlier in the year.

Lastly, the Center for Discovery (TCFD)  received $2 million to provide air filtration for its residences, rehab centers and schools. The project was finishing up its environmental review record and would thereafter proceed with the buying and installation of its units.

County resident Ken Walter took issue with the TCFD grant during the hearing’s public comment period. “As far as I’m concerned, this is totally a waste of taxpayers’ money. [TCFD] is big enough to take care of themselves; do not use our money on them… [This project] does not seem to fit into any one of [the CDBG program’s] categories, unless you have a really big shoehorn.”

Coming soon

The second public hearing introduced the CDBG applications with which the county was currently assisting.

The consolidated funding application was due by the end of July and CDBG applications would go in through that process, said Weyer. Counties, towns and villages were all eligible to apply.

The planning division had been working with the Town of Fallsburg on an application on behalf of the mobile home park Foxcroft Village. Foxcroft faced problems with the park and with individual units. It planned to apply for a planning grant to fund a needs assessment for the park, either through the county or through the town. ”What the park needs, what the units need, and then we can kind of go after additional financing and find out what else needs to be done for it,” said Weyer.

Laura Quigley, commissioner of the county’s community resources division, provided information about an application that could help the county’s seniors connect and find support.

“The two most vulnerable populations that we have are youth and seniors… With youth, there’s always a lot of data out there and there’s a lot of things that are already happening, but that’s not happening for our seniors,” she said. The CDBG would fund a needs assessment to provide that data.

During the hearing’s public comment period, Walter expressed concerns about the Foxcroft grant similar to those he’d expressed about the TCFD grant.

Foxcroft had been advertised as a gorgeous place for second homeowners, he said. Since then, the village had been sold, and it had become more difficult for owners to sell their mobile homes to individuals, leading to many of them getting sold back to the park’s new owners.

The deterioration of the village occurred because of all the changing hands, said Walter. “This should not be on the table. This is a private business, they’ve had these problems for a very long time with their water system, with their sewer system, with their road system. There’s hardly any seniors left in there… We should not be using public funds for that place.”

Healthy Kids Programs, The Center for Discovery, affordable housing, Community Development Block Grant, Foxcroft Village, senior needs assessment

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