Johnson County, 2 cities applying for federal housing grant
Johnson County, in partnership with the cities of Olathe and Overland Park, is applying for $6.6 million in federal funding to stabilize neighborhoods and assist with the housing crisis as it relates to foreclosures and subprime mortgage issues.
The funding is being made available through the U.S. Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 Neighborhood Stabilization Program at no cost to the county or cities. The act was approved by Congress on July 24 and signed by President George W. Bush on July 30. The program began Oct. 1.
Last Thursday, the Johnson Commission unanimously approved a request from the Department of Human Services and Aging to apply for the grant funding. The application involves collaboration with the two cities along with the department’s Housing Services Program, which will serve as a pass-through entity for the cities in the funding process. The application must be submitted to the state of Kansas by Oct. 28.
Use of the grant funding includes homebuyer assistance; purchases of foreclosed or abandoned homes to sell, rent, or redevelop; demolition of blighted structures and redevelopment of the property and housing rehabilitation.
Olathe is requesting $3,691,500, and Overland Park is applying for $1,968,800. The Housing Services Program is seeking $963,000 to purchase up to five foreclosed homes, rehabilitate them as needed, and sell them to low-income families.
Preference for the sale of these homes would be given to individuals who are current housing choice voucher recipients and have completed their five-year family self-sufficiency program or who are clients of the American Dream Down payment Initiative, Copeland reported to commissioners in a letter outlining the application for funding.
“We strongly believe that this new funding source will greatly enhance our community’s ability to provide affordable housing to low-income families,” he wrote.
Deputy County Manager Hannes Zacharias agreed, noting that an application for $6.6 million is subject to change.
“I’m hopeful we can get that much, but we don’t know for sure,” he said.
The state of Kansas has been awarded almost $21 million from HERA for use throughout Kansas. The federal grant funding will be administered through the state’s Community Development Block Grant program and the Kansas Housing Resource Corporation.
Kansas will provide a statewide action plan by Dec. 1 to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for final review and federal grant funding authorization, which is expected by the end of the year or early 2009.