On Feb. 24, representatives from the city and the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA) got together to review a proposal for a Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) and perform a site visit on the neighborhood, which could benefit the city.
"We got good feedback and received suggestions for things we could add to the list of potential projects," City Planning Administrator Stacy Gibbens told The Brazil Times about the site visit of the area west of Depot Street, between United States 40 and Hendrix Street. "Initially, we were planning to only develop single-family homes for sale. However, we found out we could also rehabilitate homes for rental purposes as well."
Gibbens said she and Angie Pappano, vice president for Kenna Consulting and Management Group, Inc., Indianapolis, are still working on the grant application, which is due March 13, but are looking to residents of the area for enhancements.
"We would like heartfelt testimonials from residents of the specified neighborhood about the history of the town, how the current conditions affect their lives and how rehabilitation of the area would improve it," she said. "We would need the letters to be submitted by March 6 in order to add them to the application."
In the meantime, Gibbens said she would be going through the neighborhood taking pictures and gathering statements from renters and homeowners for additional information to add to the application.
In the specified area, there are 146 total properties, about 40 of which are considered blighted.
According to the breakdown of Project Sources and Uses Budget for the application, the city is requesting $3,359,700 in grant money and have figured an additional $1,313,000 in leveraged funds to help complete the projects.
In e-mail correspondence to The Brazil Times, Pappano said the city is anticipating "creating seven homes for rehab/resale, creating seven homes for affordable rental, assisting existing property owners with the demo of 10 homes and assisting 15 homes with Owner Occupied Rehabilitation," within the first 18-month cycle of the grant monies availability.
Pappano said the selling price for the homes would be either Fair Market Value (FMV) or development cost, whichever would be the lesser amount.
"However, some homebuyers may qualify for a subsidy to make the property affordable, the subsidy would fill any gaps in financing," Pappano said in the e-mail. "For example, a homebuyer can qualify a $70,000 mortgage reasonably based on their current income, say the FMV is $100,000 -- the homebuyer could receive a $30,000 subsidy, which would create an affordable home for the homebuyer."
She added the average cost the rehabilitation of a property would be in the $40,000 range, and the cost for demolition/new construction projects could be between $86,000 and $106,000 per home, while the cost of straight demolition would be little meaning acquisition costs in those situations would be low as well.
"However, we wouldn't be tearing houses down unless they are vacant or uninhabitable," Gibbens said. "During the site visit, we were also told we could seek other grant possibilities to augment our ability to help other homeowners."
Gibbens said while money from the grant could be used for as long as four years, the state was encouraging grant layering in order to improve as much as possible.
"There are other grants out there, like the Home Improvement Grant Program, which could be used for additional housing assistance," she said. "Also, we can extend the NSP grant money by recycling the money brought in from the sale of a home into rehabilitating another home. Also, the grant is of no financial benefit because any unused funds or money accumulated from sales remaining at the end of the term is reverted back to the state."
Pappano said the IHCDA is expecting about 144 proposals and plan to fund about 20, making the application process competitive.
"The state was mum on our chances, but they appeared shocked at the condition of many of the homes and surprised people were able to live in them," Gibbens told The Brazil Times. "This makes it all the more important for the residents of the area to submit letters in their own words to give the city a better chance at receiving the grant."
The grant application will be up for review at the regular meeting of the Common Council of the City of Brazil Tuesday, March 10, at 7 p.m., in the Council Chambers of City Hall, before it is officially submitted to the IHCDA. Gibbens said she anticipates to hear if the city will be receiving grant money by the end of May.
Letters may be submitted to the City Planning Office at City Hall, 203 E. National Avenue, e-mailed to Gibbens at email@example.com, or faxed to 812-446-0337.
For questions or more information, contact Gibbens at 446-0050.