CDBGs Help Maintain Affordable Housing

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The month of May is Affordable Housing Month. In celebration of Affordable Housing Month, Rural Resurrection is looking at one often overlooked way to help affordable housing in your rural community. There are actually many ways to help affordable housing, but CDBG Housing Rehabilitation grants are often the most overlooked when considering their impact to affordable housing.

Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) have been a valuable resource for low-to-moderate income communities since 1974. They have funded project ranging from sewer systems to childcare facilities. Another popular use of CDBG funds is owner-occupied housing rehabilitation.

Housing rehab grants through the CDBG program are available in all states in the upper Midwest. For a relatively minor investment, communities can rehabilitate a few houses each time they are awarded a grant. Dollar amount awarded vary from state-to-state. But in the end, homeowners receive a safe, sanitary, and decent home. The community, for their part, gets an improved housing stock and an uptick in their tax base due to the increase in valuation.

Trust the Help of Others

However, applying for a federal grant through a state agency may be daunting to some. All the paperwork and processes required can be unnerving. Thankfully, many states have regional organizations that can lead the way. Whether it is a Council of Governments, rural development organization, or another regional entity that assists rural communities, they are valuable to the application and post-award administration of the grants.

These organizations will write the grants and submit them to the state for review. They will also help with the post-approval processes to get the work started. Many of these organizations also handle the homeowners, the contract bidding, and construction management. The best part? A majority of their work is typically paid for by the grant.

So lay your trust in regional organizations and apply for a CDBG Housing Rehabilitation Grant. Overall, CDBGs leverage additional investment at a ratio that is over 4:1. But the overall impact is immeasurable. Many communities have witnessed neighbors to the rehabbed houses working on their own properties as a result. Hence, there’s often a rollover impact to the grant funded improvements.

Housing Rehabilitation before and after

How CDBG Housing Rehabilitation Grants Help Affordable Housing

During my time conducting administration of these grants in southern Iowa, we didn’t provide for improvements to houses newer than 1980. Possibly even 1970. This wasn’t intentional, the most deteriorated houses were those structures that endured more than four decades of deterioration. These are often the oldest structures in town, the most deteriorated, but also the most affordable due to age and condition. With CDBG Housing Rehabilitation funding you are keeping those affordable houses in the housing stock for decades to come.[0]=AZX6-SDaYJiqGKkBc-U537EM_8tf4t7mORByk5sfi6jvgN1mKAk6MTf8y57ySA_V6W9_nzLwa47ohdOmy6gLWoabrY7oro0cA-oUz3EE_gyZDHOG7Zj7Xhe5-b_vbZu5SpTz3uyPz1Z0k7BVkgz8Wvou&__tn__=%2CO%2CP-R

Also the project houses were those owned by low-to-moderate income households. With our program you had to be a low-to-moderate income family for your house to be repaired. Conducting repairs on the homes of low-to-moderate income households keeps these families in their homes longer as the structures remain viable with these repairs.

Apply. Apply. Execute. Repeat.

Overall, the CDBG Housing Rehabilitation grants are an immense help to a community. But they are competitive grants. So apply soon and keep applying each year until your community is funded. But don’t stop there. After a few years, go back to the well. Most rural housing stocks are deteriorating at an increasing pace. So don’t hold back, your housing stock needs help!