The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

July 4, 2013

City officials looking to rehabilitate owner occupied homes

By Katie Dahlstrom
Assistant Editor

CLINTON — Houses in Clinton's urban core have caught the attention of city officials seeking a grant to improve housing for low-to-moderate-income residents.  

The city is planning to apply for a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant from the Iowa Department of Economic Development that can be used to improve 10 low-to-moderate-income (LMI) homes. 

While previous grants have focused on the few blocks to the north of Camanche Avenue between South Fourth Street and 23rd Place, Building and Neighborhood Services Official Mike Harmon said in order to best serve the population, he is considering a new neighborhood.  

Clinton applied for the same CDBG grant last year, but was denied, which Harmon believes might have been tied to repeating the target area. Instead, the city received a homeownership grant, which only two homeowners utilized.

As a result, the state has directed that those funds be opened to Clinton County as well as Jackson County.

"We've been working at this area and (the state) might want us to look at other areas," Harmon said. 

"One good thing about these grants normally, they spur other people to rehab and that's kind of stopped in these areas. So it may just be time to move it out of there," he added. 

The possible new target area would be the flatlands between Eighth Avenue South and Second Avenue North with east-west boundaries between Fourth Street and Bluff Boulevard.  

"With the population shift from the ADM and the old HyVee areas it seems like there might be a great concentration of LMI in that area," he said.  

The CDBG grant allows homeowners from the target area to apply for a rehabilitation with the city. Once the city receives the application, the East Central Intergovernmental Association reviews the application and determines what should be done to improve the owner-occupied single-family home.  

Rehabs can include things such as roof repairs, furnace and hot water heater upgrades, lead paint removal and various other improvements. The state funds will cover just under $25,000 with the city using LMI funds generated by TIF districts to provide a $10,000 match, making up to $35,000 available for the rehab.   

The other grant funds are used to pay the ECIA for administering the program. 

Harmon hopes to use the expertise of the ECIA to survey the potential new target area. City staff is investigating whether LMI funds can be used to pay the ECIA for these services.