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Elyria Council opens $1.1M in block grant funds for public discussions

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ELYRIA — City Council’s Finance and Community Development committees Monday fine-tuned plans to spend almost $1.1 million in federal Community Development Block Grant funds on programs benefiting the health and welfare of residents.

The joint committee meeting served as a third public hearing for community members to support or oppose projects being funded in the coming year. A vote on sending the Annual Action Plan to City Council for approval is expected next month, officials said.

CDBG funds are disbursed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Elyria received $717,614 for 2019 and is carrying over another $347,509 from 2018, according to numbers provided by the city’s Office of Community Development.

Community Development Director Ashley Scott said a final public comment period starts Monday and ends at 4:30 p.m. Dec. 5. Though comments typically are few, with only one or two each year, “we encourage as many public comments as possible,” she said.

HUD requires the majority of CDBG funds are used “for activities that benefit low- and moderate-income persons, prevention or elimination of slums or blight, or address community development needs having a particular urgency because existing conditions pose a serious and immediate threat to the health or welfare of the community for which other funding is not available.”

Some of the money is for utilities assistance, owner-occupied home repair, youth and senior citizen programming and can be given to community groups who apply through the Office of Community Development.

Recipients in 2019, totaling approximately $1,095,000 include:

  • Housing rehabilitation: $296,500
  • Code enforcement: $224,576
  • Sidewalk program: $100,000
  • South Park tennis courts: $95,459
  • Community Improvement Corporation: $50,000
  • South Park playground equipment: $45,804
  • Revolving Loan Fund, downtown business loans: $41,587
  • Senior citizen programming: $30,000
  • Lorain County Urban League: $10,000
  • Boys and Girls Club youth programming: $10,000
  • Save Our Children youth programming: $10,000
  • Elyria Mini Pioneers: $7,500
  • Elyria Open Rec: $7,000
  • Elyria Reach and Rise: $7,000
  • Adopt a School youth/senior programming: $6,000
  • Salvation Army utility assistance: $5,700
  • Spark Theater youth programming: $4,125

Another $143,872 is budgeted out of the funds for administrative costs, including personnel, supplies, title work and training.

The Office of Community Development is in Suite 300 on the third floor of City Hall at 131 Court St. Scott said any residents with questions are welcome to send written comments there or call (440) 326-1541.

With so many requests for funding each year, Councilwoman Donna Mitchell, D-6th Ward, said Council needed to do a better job about sticking to its own deadlines. One request came in late this year but still was given consideration, she said.

“Every year we say we are not going to allow these late entries, and every year we allow” those, Mitchell said. “I think we are being kind, but if you don’t get it in on time, we are not going to accept it.”

Contact Dave O’Brien at (440) 329-7129 or do’brien@chroniclet.com. Follow him at @daveobrienCT on Twitter.
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