Council looks to aid those with housing needs

Eric Cravey
Posted 2/14/17

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – Residents of Keystone Heights who need housing repairs or renovations may soon be able to get help from city hall.

City Council voted on Feb. 6 to apply for a $650,000 …

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Council looks to aid those with housing needs

Posted

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – Residents of Keystone Heights who need housing repairs or renovations may soon be able to get help from city hall.

City Council voted on Feb. 6 to apply for a $650,000 Community Development Block Grant from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity that would fund home repairs for low-income families in the city limits.

“For this particular grant, we would be looking again at a minimum of nine low-to-moderate income houses,” said Scott Modesitt of Brandon, Fla.-based Summit Professional Services, a consulting firm specializing in helping governments apply for grants.

“The primary requirements for applicants – the resident must live within the incorporated area of the city, has to be owner-occupied, they can have a mortgage and it cannot be a rental property,” Modesitt said. “And the individual must be below 80 percent of the median area income.”

Modesitt said, as drafted, the grant application could possibly fund more than nine home repair projects. He also said that, of the nine total homes, three homes will be low income – where the owner’s income does not exceed 50 percent of the median for Clay County and another two homes will be for those falling in the very low income category, which is for residents whose income does not exceed 30 percent of the median income for Clay County.

In addition to assistance with housing repairs, temporary relocation assistance will be provided to residents who will be unable to remain in the home during construction, as needed, the grant documents state.

“Currently the grant application is budgeting $540,500 for housing rehabilitation/replacement, $12,000 for temporary relocation, and $97,500 for administration costs. Only households that are low to moderate income are eligible to participate in the project; this ensures that the project meets a national objective,” states the application.

The Feb. 6 meeting marked the second public hearing that is required before applying for this type of grant. The first public hearing was held in October, a month after the city appointed and met with a Citizens Advisory Task Force, which is comprised of residents who meet the income requirements for the grant – both requirements for applying for the grant.

Once the grant is approved, Modesitt said, there is a stringent applicant review process to determine eligibility.

“We check their taxes. They have to be current on all utilities, can’t have any non-structural code violations with the city. They have to be current on their mortgage and we verify, through third-party verification, all of their income information,” Modesitt said.

Modesitt said residents who claim a disability must present a certified letter from their doctor as part of the vetting process.

“We take all those individuals applications and rank them using the city’s housing assistance plan and then we would being that list back before the council for approval,” Modesitt said. “We take all those individuals applications and rank them using the city’s housing assistance plan and then we would being that list back before the council for approval.”

He also said the resident cannot have any non-structural code violations with the city at their time of applying for a housing grant. Modesitt said if home is older than 50 years, it has be submitted for state historic review and homes built prior to 1978 must be tested for lead-based paint.

“I will say the last time we did this, we had several senior citizens that were able to take advantage of this,” said Mayor Tony Brown.

Council voted 5-0 to approve the grant application after the public hearing. The grant application is due to Tallahassee on Feb. 16 and, according to Modesitt, state officials will have a determination in 4-to-6 weeks.

In other business, city council passed an ordinance to impose a moratorium on medical marijuana for one year. The ordinance, like many passed in Clay County and around the state, intends to delay implementation and licensure until governments can work out planning a zoning rules on where medical marijuana dispensaries can be located.

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