Building Bonuses

Published on Wednesday, 9 July 2014 23:04 - Written by KELLY GOOCH kgooch@tylerpaper.com

When Dorothy Pettigrew set out to get some assistance with her and her father’s home, she didn’t expect a complete rebuild.

The 50-year-old, who was taking care of her father, said she wanted help from the city to fix the bathroom, but their house was in such bad shape that they were approved to get a new house.

“It seemed like everything fell right in place,” Ms. Pettigrew said. “When … Cortez (Williams, with Neighborhood Services,) came out to tell us, I was just thanking God, and I was standing there with my friend. I said, ‘I’ve got to hug this … man because he just brought us some good news.’”

In the old house, her father, who was not physically disabled but was sickly, had converted the den into his bedroom, and she tried not to let him go into certain parts of the house due to disrepairs, she said. Her father died earlier this year, so she will live in the new three-bedroom, two-bath home on her own. She plans to make one of the bedrooms a guest room and another a den where children in her family can play.

Ms. Pettigrew is renting a house nearby but expects that her new home will be ready by the end of this month.

In the meantime, she said she looks forward to having a nice living room for entertaining company, along with central heating and air conditioning, which she didn’t have at the other house.

“I’m just blessed. I am so blessed,” she said.

Ms. Pettigrew’s home is only one project that is possible because the city receives funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant and HOME Investment Partnerships programs.

The city expects to receive $854,047 in CDBG funds and $341,700 in HOME funds for fiscal year 2014, according to the city of Tyler Neighborhood Services Community Development Department proposed 2014 annual plan, which was presented during Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

CDBG funds may be used for different activities, such as housing rehabilitation, homeownership, demolition, code enforcement, construction, street and park rehabilitation, curb and gutter work, and sidewalk improvements, while HOME funds are solely for affordable housing, meaning it has to provide housing for homeownership or rental purposes, said Brenda Johnson, manager of the city’s Neighborhood Services Department.

She said CDBG projects have to either assist low-income individuals — those who are 80 percent or below the area’s median family income — eliminate slum and blight or address an urgent community need. The area’s median family income is $54,600, so a household of one could make up to $32,850 per year and still be eligible to go into homeownership or get some rehabilitation done on their property, Ms. Johnson said. Income guidelines also apply to HOME projects.

As part of the city of Tyler Neighborhood Services Community Development Department proposed 2014 annual plan, 20 percent of the city’s CDBG money is projected to go toward administration, 15 percent is projected for public services and 65 percent is projected for eligible activities, such as housing rehabilitation, homeownership, demolition, code enforcement and public facility improvements, Ms. Johnson said. For HOME, 10 percent is projected for administration, 15 percent is projected to go to a community housing development organization, and 75 percent is projected to go toward affordable housing activities. According to a city presentation, those eligible activities are rehabilitation, rental housing, homebuyers’ assistance and tenant-based rental assistance.

Ms. Johnson said there are three City Council districts — districts 2, 3 and 4- where 51 percent of the district is low-to-moderate income, and this year, Councilman Ed Moore’s district — District 3- has been designated a target area.

She said plans are to do some trail and park improvements, curb and gutter installation and maybe some sidewalk improvements on Carter Boulevard, from 29th Street past 31st Street. She said the city also plans to do rehabilitation to homes that feed into that area.

Additionally, city plans include administering a business fa￧ade program, where work will be done on the outside of buildings in a particular area, Ms. Johnson said. A particular area for the business fa￧ade program has not yet been designated.

The city also is proposing to give $10,000 of the CDBG funds to the Literacy Council of Tyler; $10,000 of the CDBG funds to Great Foundations, Inc.; $10,000 of the CDBG funds to North Tyler Day Nursery; $10,000 of the CDBG funds to City of Tyler Homebuyer Education; and $35,000 of the HOME funds to Habitat for Humanity. Ms. Johnson said these proposed entities and amounts were decided on after committee members received applications, did on-site visits and reviewed information.

As far as homes, the city plans to do three new houses next fiscal year, and the hope is to also do rehabilitation on about 25 homes during that time.

The city will begin accepting applications for home rehabilitation and new home construction in November. In the last five years, the city has constructed or reconstructed about 40 homes.

No one spoke during Wednesday’s public hearing on the City of Tyler Neighborhood Services Community Development Department proposed 2014 annual plan. A 30-day comment period ends on July 22, and the City Council will consider final approval of the plan on July 23.