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County gets funds for those in need

By Randy Pierce

Over $3.5 million has been awarded to Madison County to be used by its community development department to provide support for members of underprivileged qualifying populations facing homelessness or other similar challenges.

Created at the federal level, the source of this funding is the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant and HOME (all capital letters) Investment Partnership programs. 

The $3,529,710 grant is a component of the HUD Home American Recovery Plan Act approved by Congress and President Joe Biden in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

The county board’s grants committee, chaired by Denise Wiehardt of Granite City and including Stacey Pace of Troy as one its members, brought forward the resolution, approved unanimously by the full board earlier this month, enacting the mechanisms for the administration of these funds.

The breakdown for the use of this money includes $2.5 million for the acquisition and development of “non-congregate shelters” which are defined as living spaces where individuals or families have some level of privacy within an enclosed room or rooms, a concept accelerated by the HUD during the pandemic in order to limit transmission of coronavirus.

There is also another $500,253 set aside for offering tenant-based rental assistance while the remainder of the grant money, $529,456, which represents the 15 per cent legal limit of the grant money that can be used for this purpose, is going toward administration and planning of the program.

The qualifying populations designated in the county legislation to benefit from this program will be those who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, anyone fleeing or attempting to flee from domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking or human trafficking and others who are at “the greatest risk of housing instability,” all as defined in specific federal guidelines. 

A rental assistance provision is also part of this package in order to assist individuals or families in need of suitable living arrangements, also for the purpose of helping the appropriate federal agencies attain established objectives for assisting low to moderate income persons.

The county community development department, as part of its requirements for the receipt of these funds, will be preparing action plans, evaluations and other documentation as stipulated by the HUD, along with having conducted a needs assessment to determine how to best distribute the money. 

Chris Otto is director of the Madison County Community Development Department, having been appointed to that position, after previously serving as deputy director, in June of last year. Dave Tanzyus, the previous head of that department, had been named county administrator, creating the community development vacancy filled by Otto.

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