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Local

Coal City will seek grant funds for neighborhood revitalization projects

Grant fund approval would help Coal City homeowners in 2020

Looking to spruce up homes and revitalize portions of the village, Coal City will apply for state funds aiming to provide homeowners with cash to kickstart their projects.

On Wednesday, the village board held a public hearing on a plan to seek a community block development grant through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The grant would mean up to $500,000 for housing rehabilitation projects for an estimated 10 owner-occupied single family homes in an identifed section in the village's southeast side.

The money would be used for construction rehab, grant administration, and construction supervision costs.

"This program is a state grant assistance to help local elected officials help homeowners in declining neighborhoods, so people who need help with their homes who qualify with low or moderate income, we send a survey out last year, we sent it out again this year to get a few more homes so we could get additional funds," Kevin Lindeman, Executive Director and Grant Manager of North Central Illinois Council of Governments, explained to more than 20 people who showed up for the public hearing.

The Coal City housing rehabilitation advisory committee has worked with the North Central Council of Governments and Barnett Construction on the 2019-2022 housing rehabilitation plan.

"It would help bring the houses up to minimal housing codes," he added. "This year the village is coming up with $20,000 of funds to be added to the direct rehabilitation work for income elligible homeowners residing in the project area."

The city's portion would come from $15,000 earmarked in the economic development fund, and another $5,000 from the Community Foundation fo Grundy County.

If the village receives the grant, it would be 24 months from start of rehabilitaton process to completion. Lindeman said once the application is submitted, approvals can be expected by late winter or early spring 2020. If funded, the program would begin its rollout in late summer or early fall 2020, with construction to begin in spring 2021.

The village has undergone a two-year effort to stabilize the trend of structural decline in older residential areas. The target area was chosen based on a locally distributed survey. The survey received a 42% response rate.

The multi-block target area includes 125 existing structures. Of those homes, 32 residential dwellings were found to be serioulsy deteriorated, implying the need for major rehabilitation.

Coal City applied for the funding last year, but was unable to secure any funds from the last round.

"We did this last year, our application didn't make the cut," said village president Terry Halliday. "We were close last year, the hope is that we get it this year and certainly be able to help some people out. It's a grant, if you stay in the home after five years after the rehabilitation, then you don't have to pay the loan back."

The grant works as a 5-year forgivable loan to the income eligible homeowners. That means that the homeowners will not have to pay back the money provided they stay in the home for five years after upgrades and improvements are complete. If the homeowners sell their home before that time period, they have to repay at least a portion of that money.

The block grant program provides $6.5 million statewide, with a ceiling grant of $500,000 per applicant. Funds are distributed by the state of Illinois and must meet federal standards to benefit low to moderate income residents.

The village will submit its application on Aug. 29.

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