By Debbie Adams
The Town of Vinton DHCD (Department of Housing and Community Development) Housing Rehabilitation Project Grant Management Team met on March 9 to finalize plans for holding the second public hearing on the grant at the Vinton Town Council meeting on March 17. The grant application is due on March 27 and must be approved by council.
The purpose of the grant is to obtain funding to improve neighborhoods near downtown Vinton. If received, the grant will award $1 million-plus to facilitate rehabilitation and construction of homes and/or improvements to the overall infrastructure in the neighborhood selected, with a focus on basic repairs to keep homes “warm, safe, and dry.” The project is additionally focused on low to moderate income (LMI) families.
The grant project had its beginnings in a strategic planning meeting by Town Council over two years ago when members expressed a desire to do something for the homeowners and residents of the town after the completion of the downtown revitalization project in the general business district.
The town subsequently received a grant of $3000 from DHCD to conduct a windshield survey of several downtown residential neighborhoods to pinpoint areas for rehabilitation. They next received an additional DHCD planning grant of $27,000 to prepare for the construction grant application.
Consultants were hired through the grant funding to assist in defining the project and writing the grant application. Summit Design and Engineering was chosen through an RFP process. Janet Jonas facilitates the Vinton project.
Last fall the management team—made up of town staff, town council representatives, project consultants, and citizens of Vinton—narrowed the focus of the project to the Cleveland and Cedar Avenue area. Several homes have been identified as possibilities for the project.
At their meeting on March 9, the team viewed detailed photographs of three potential properties and identified what was needed for each property to make the home “safe, dry, and warm.” Those included replacement of siding, windows, roof and window trim, peeling paint, chimneys, flashing, porches, downspouts, weather stripping, insulation, light fixtures, steps, railings, electrical components, bathroom fixtures, leaking plumbing, decks, lead-based paint, and more.
Jonas said that she hopes to meet with several more property owners before week’s end to gauge their interest in the project and to recruit up to 12 homes to participate. Homes selected for improvements will be prioritized by a housing rehabilitation board based on a variety of factors including size of family, whether the head of household is female, if the resident is elderly or disabled, whether the property is owned or rented, and how much work needs to be done.
The management team also discussed improvements to the infrastructure in the area which can in some instances be covered by the grant, such as replacement of water and sewer lines (both main lines and lateral service lines) and sidewalks.
Assistant Town Manager Pete Peters asked for assurances that the town would not be obligated to fund the project if required bids come in too high, as has been the case with many construction projects in the valley in recent months. Jonas replied that the town would not be obligated but should “do what you can do until the money runs out.”
There was also discussion of where to obtain other funding when homes needed more rehabilitation than could be provided by the grant.
The public hearing on March 17 is open to the public who would like to hear details about this exciting new project. It will be held during the regularly scheduled town council meeting at 7 p.m. at the Municipal Building on Pollard Street in downtown Vinton.