Housing stimulus allocated to county
ARENAC COUNTY — Approximately $166,742 will be distributed to Arenac County for housing assistance through an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) allocation of $22,108,890 to the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA).
According to American Red Cross Social Worker Erin Riley, Arenac County units in the Continuum of Care (CoC) – non-profit organizations that meet monthly at the Arenac County Department of Human Services Center as a cohesive unit – can submit a Community Housing Assistance Program (CHAP) focused on preventing homelessness and quickly re-housing those who’ve recently become homeless to get a piece of the $166,742 pie, since Arenac County did not receive direct funds from the ARRA.
“The beginning of July, the actual grant application will be available (for CoCs),” Riley, who attended a Region 4 meeting regarding the MSHDA draft several weeks ago, said.
She says the program has no long-term or transitional assistance.
“It’s for helping to save housing,” Riley said, adding the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) laid out the guidelines for the program and MSHDA tightened those guidelines even further. “The target population are those in housing but close to eviction.
“[Applicants} must be at or below 40-percent AMI (Area Median Income) or 30-percent AMI if homeless. The persistently homeless are not the target.”
Riley says the financing of the grant, which is spread out over a 2-year period, won’t be available for those dealing with mortgages, since the MSHDA draft states there are several ARRA programs already available for homeowners dealing with the mortgage crisis.
Riley says the grant monies will be available to citizens sometime around September or October in either short-term (1-3 months) or medium-term (4-12 months) allotments and can assist with security deposits as long as the deposits don’t exceed one month’s rent, utility deposits ($200 per occurrence) and utility payments or utility debt owed up to $1,500. She also says relocation and stabilization services are provided through the grant.
To be eligible for assistance, the Department of Human Services (DHS) must first deny the applicant federal and state assistance, Riley says.
Of the entire grant, only 7-percent will be used to supplement administration/data collection and evaluation services, she added, meaning a heavy majority will trickle down to the people in need.
“All of the [distributions] will be posted on the Internet to be transparent,” Riley said.
She says a lead agency to govern the funds and distribution must be selected by the CoC, as is mandatory under the guidelines.
“I’ve applied for Red Cross to be the lead agency,” Riley said. Though, she added, there is still time for other agencies to apply.
Riley says the grant terms for the CHAP award CoCs one half of the allocation the first year and require the governing body to expend 100-percent of the allocations by Sept. 5, 2010 to ensure maximum benefit of the program, or the remaining funds will be recaptured by MSHDA, which may affect the ability to receive the full allocation in the second year.
“Once we (CoC) get the actual details, we’ll develop a plan (to ensure grant terms are fully complied with the Arenac County CHAP),” Riley said. “Everything is tentative at this point until the actual grant application comes out.”
She added once the lead agency is selected, citizens can call the lead agency to request assistance.
Those in need of housing assistance in the above-mentioned areas can look for updates on what agency will serve as lead agency on arenacindependent.com and in future issues of the Arenac County Independent.