Federal funds earmarked for Coon Rapids housing rehab

by Peter Bodley
Managing Editor

The city of Coon Rapids plans to use its annual federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) allocation for its housing rehabilitation program.

But how much money that will be is unknown.

That’s because Congress has not yet passed the legislation that funds the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program.

The Coon Rapids City Council authorized the application to Anoka County for CDBG funds following a public hearing at which no one spoke.

The city gets its CDBG allocation from Anoka County through a joint powers agreement which has been in place since 2001.

With a population of over 60,000, Coon Rapids is an entitlement community for CDBG dollars under HUD regulations and does not have to go through the county’s competitive process for allocating the CDBG funds to other cities in the county.

For the past few years, the city has used most of its CDBG dollars for the housing rehabilitation program.

Housing rehabilitation activities assist low- and moderate-income persons and is a housing goal of the county’s plan required by HUD, according to Cheryl Bennett, city housing and zoning coordinator.

The city’s housing rehabilitation program provides deferred, zero-interest loans to low- and moderate-income residents with 50 percent of the loan forgiven after five years, Bennett said.

“The funds assist homeowners in maintaining minimum housing standards in single- and two-family dwellings, including interior improvements on townhouse and other common interest community properties,” she said.

“Funds can also be used on exterior rehab work on a dwelling unit within a common property when the homeowner, and not the association, is responsible for the work.”

The program also provides assistance with energy-related improvements, Bennett said.

A one-year tenancy requirement of the program is waived for the rehabilitation of foreclosed properties, which allows low- or moderate-income residents who have purchased a foreclosed home to begin the rehabilitation process immediately, she said.

If the city gets the same amount of CDBG dollars as 2011, $228,094, between eight and 12 homeowners would be assisted, according to Bennett.

The maximum rehab loan amount is $20,000, but additional dollars of not more than $4,999 per project may be provided to homeowners for lead paint abatement work or other rehabilitation needs, Bennett said.

“Funds used for lead based abatement are granted to the homeowner and are not included in the loan amount,” she said.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]