Federal funding shift to boost county programs

Federal block grant dollars will be shifted by Anoka County to boost a couple of its programs.

In two separate actions, the Anoka County Housing and Redevelopment Authority has authorized:

• Reallocating $100,000 from federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program income and 2011 Greater Metropolitan Housing Corporation (GMHC) single-family rehabilitation program to the 2012 Anoka County Community Development single-family rehabilitation program.

• Reallocating $39,330 in federal HOME (affordable housing) funding for down payment assistance that has been unused to the county’s tenant based rental assistance program, which is administered by the Anoka County Community Action Program (ACCAP).

Under U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regulations, there is a 30-day comment period for the public before the changes can be implemented.

That period expired Jan. 14 with no comments, according to Kate Thunstrom, county community development manager.

There is a shortage of funds for rental assistance in the tenant-based rental assistance program, Thunstrom said.

“We have had an overwhelming response to the program,” she said.

Demand for rent assistance from low-income families is growing, Thunstrom said.

According to Thunstrom, under the program rent assistance of up to $350 a month is provided the first year, up to $250 a month the second year and $150 a month the third year.

The goal is for the renters to become more self-sufficient over the years, Thunstrom said.

According to the county website, the tenant based rent assistance program is used to make affordable housing for households that would otherwise be at risk for homelessness.

It provides assistance to households who do not have sufficient income to pay for market rent housing without seriously limiting their ability to obtain food, clothing, medical or other essential needs, the website states.

A portion of the $100,000 reallocated to the county’s single-family rehabilitation program comes from CDBG dollars returned by the GMHC from its 2011 allocation, Thunstrom said.

The program’s goal is to help rebuild the housing market in the county by providing deferred loan financing to income-eligible homeowners (low to moderate income) needing to rehabilitate their existing single-family homes, she said.

Under the program, an interest-free, deferred rehabilitation loan for eligible homeowners is provided up to a maximum $27,000 with the loan forgiven after the borrower remains a primary resident in the home for 15 years.

The loan becomes due and payable if the borrower sells, transfers title or ceases to occupy the property as his/her principal residence during the loan term.

The purpose is to improve safety, livability or energy efficiency, according to the county website.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]