City to receive $269,075 grant to rehabilitate targeted housing

The City of Hillsboro didn’t receive all that it asked for, but it was awarded enough housing rehabilitation grant money last week “to do some good work with a significant number of houses.”

That was City Administrator Steve Garrett’s assessment Friday after receiving notification from Gov. Bill Graves that Hillsboro will receive $269,075 through the Kansas Small Cities Community Development Grant Program.

The program is administered by the Kansas Department of Commerce & Housing.

The city originally had asked KDOC&H for $400,000 to make major repairs on most of the 47 homes in the four-block target area along Hillsboro’s north side. The area is bordered by Second and Third streets on the south and north and by Main and Madison streets on the east and west.

A news release from KDOC&H stated the $269,075 would be used “to rehabilitate 11 housing units and demolish two,” but Garrett said the city wasn’t limited to those strict parameters.

“We really won’t know what kind of work the house will need until we get further into the project,” he said. “Once we see what’s out there, we’ll have a better idea how the money will be spent.”

The grant stipulates a limit of $17,000 per home, including inspection fees. Funds can be used to demolish dilapidated houses, but the majority will be used to repair major systems in a house, such as a new roof, energy-efficient windows, insulation, electrical, plumbing, foundations and heating and air.

“We’re very, very pleased that Hillsboro was chosen and the state Department of Commerce & Housing saw that we did have a need for that part of town,” said Mayor Delores Dalke. “I feel it will be a big help to the people who live there.”

The mayor said the city will call a meeting of homeowners in the target area to explain the program. No date has been set yet, but Dalke said the meeting would be “in the near future.”

To help offset the difference between the amount the city asked for and the amount it will receive, Dalke said the city is exploring the possibility of augmenting KDOC&C money with winterization grants through the South Central Kansas Economic Development District.

The latter program issues grants directly to individuals rather than cities. City of Hillsboro staff would help homeowners with the application process, Dalke said.

“It will mean a lot of work from our staff, but I think if we can work it out, we should be able to stretch (the state grant) as far as we would have if we had received the entire amount we applied for,” she said.

Hillsboro was one of seven cities to receive grant money through KDOC&H. Eighteen cities had applied.

The awards, which totaled nearly $3.424 million, ranged from $239,750 to $600,000.

The housing rehabilitation grants are awarded through an annual competition. They support rehabilitation of owner- and renter-occupied residences within targeted areas to encourage neighborhood revitalization.

“It’s been a while since Hillsboro has had a grant, and this is one that will directly affect the lives of the people in that particular area of town,” Dalke said.

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