LITTLE FALLS – The Little Falls Common Council voted during a meeting Tuesday to apply for a Community Development Block Grant to assist low and moderate income residents with housing rehabilitation.
The decision followed a public hearing to seek community input on the planned application.
Alderman Jeff Gressler questioned the wording in the description provided by Jim Thatcher, manager of community development with C.T. Male Associates of Latham, which mentioned work in the downtown area.
Thatcher said the grant, if approved, would not be limited to projects in any one section of the city, but there is interest in Albany in projects that support downtown revitalization.
His description stated work would not be limited to the downtown area, "but preference will be given to rehabilitation projects that are located within the ‘Center City’ Main Street corridor and the Mohawk River-Erie Canal waterfront and to projects that will help keep residents safe in their homes and attract new residents and foot traffic to support local businesses."
Thatcher explained the Community Development Block Grant program has been around since the 1970s. While the funding for the program still comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, since 2000 the states have taken over administration of the program from HUD and there is an annual competition among smaller communities for the grant funds, which can be used for a number of purposes.
In 2011, the city received a $400,000 grant for an elevator at Rockton Plaza. A grant from 2013 was used to assist with rehabilitation of 14 housing units. One was a two-unit apartment building. Funding went for health and safety upgrades, Thatcher said. He noted the city’s Urban Renewal Agency reviews the applications and makes the decisions.
"You can apply for up to $500,000 and have two years to spend it," said Thatcher.
He estimated the city could assist with rehabilitating 14 to 16 housing units with this amount of money.
He noted the city had favored homeowners over rental properties in the past.
"Landlords typically have a loan component," he added.
The city could use repaid loans for more housing work, he said.
Mayor Mark Blask agreed that the Urban Renewal Agency has concentrated on owner-occupied houses.
"We helped 16 people last year," he said. "This is so immensely important to the people who live here."
When asked if people who had received assistance through the program in the past would have to go through the entire process to apply again, Thatcher said residents are usually required to wait five years before coming back into the program.
The deadline to submit the application is Sept. 28.