According to the Web site of the Department of Community Affairs, the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program distributes monies from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to fund projects that assist lower- and middle-income residents. According to the 2008 list of recipients, Griffin’s $500,000 grant is for the purpose of “Multi Infrastructure Improvements.”
“$500,000 for water, sewer, hydrant replacement and some repaving,” is how Griffin Director of Planning and Development Services Frederick Gardiner described it. “Sidewalks as well.”
He said the city will use the grant for improvements to the Thomaston Mills area.
“It’s got one of the worst water and sewer lines in the city,” he said. “They have a lot of broken pipes in the area when it freezes and cools.”
He said the water lines in the area were laid down in the 1890s - they were the first water lines laid in the city.
“The goal is to get people better sewer, better water,” he said. “They’ve been complaining about water quality in the area.”
He said improving the water and sewer infrastructure in the area is part of the city’s long-term redevelopment plan.
“We recognize we had to do it with a grant because the area qualified,” he said, citing its poverty.
Gardiner said the city will be able to move forward with the initiative in late September, after city officials go through training and the money is officially distributed.
The other grant is a $300,000 grant from the Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP), a DCA initiative which also distributes funds from HUD. Shannan Buckner, an associate planner for the city of Griffin, explained its purpose.
“We hope to assist low- to moderate-income households purchase homes,” she said. “It’s a first-time home buyer program.”
Buckner said applicants can contact the Griffin-Spalding Housing Authority in order to receive information and to complete applications.
“Qualified applicants will be required to complete a home-buyer education program,” Buckner said.
In exchange for taking this course, applicants will receive financial assistance from the city intended to help with the down payment and the closing costs. The city has partnered with First National Bank, BB&T and Affordable Housing Enterprises to implement the program.
Buckner said the program will be implemented in late 2008 or early 2009.
“Policies have to be developed for the CHIP and that is going to take time,” she said.
Griffin Mayor Doug Hollberg is glad Griffin received the grants.
“I’m very excited that Griffin was awarded this grant,” he said about the CDBG grant.
“We hope that the reinvestment in the Thomaston Mill Village will encourage private investment from property owners and homeowners in this neighborhood,” he said.
He said the CHIP grant will help revitalize neighborhoods with substandard housing.