County considers agreements to rehabilitate homesDouglas County could be up and running when a nine-county area of northern Wisconsin is awarded a grant to fund housing rehabilitation.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
Douglas County could be up and running when a nine-county area of northern Wisconsin is awarded a grant to fund housing rehabilitation.
The county’s Planning and Zoning Committee is recommending the County Board adopt two agreements that would put all the pieces in place when the Wisconsin Department of Administration awards the region a Community Development Block Grant for housing redevelopment in Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Iron, Price, Rusk, Sawyer and Washburn counties.
Douglas County serves as the lead in the nine-county consortium, prompting one of the two agreements.
The county will serve as the financial administrator for the grant after the county board approved becoming the lead county in the application for Community Development Block Grant funding in September.
The other agreement would establish Northwest Regional Planning Commission, which serves the nine-county area — as the agency to manage the program from the application process through the rehabilitation project.
“It’s necessary to get the contracts in place so staff can begin the work component on this large effort we’re undertaking,” said Sheldon Johnson, deputy director of Northwest Regional Planning. Funding for rehabilitation projects must be committed in 2013, Johnson said.
While the grant the nine counties originally applied for was about $1.7 million, funding remaining in state hands could increase that funding to $2.75 million over the next two years, Johnson said.
Of that funding, the county would receive $20,000 to cover its costs for financial oversight of the grant. Northwest Regional Planning would receive about $358,650 for day-to-day operation of the program if the counties receive the $2.75 million grant.
If the grant is a lesser or higher amount, the costs would be 15 percent of the actual grant to cover its administration of the housing rehabilitation program as allowed by the Community Development Block Grant.
That leaves about $2.4 million for housing rehabilitation, which would be divided among the nine counties, said Douglas County Zoning Administrator Steve Rannenberg. Each county has a representative on a panel that will determine how the money is distributed among the nine counties.
Rannenberg said the program will operate similarly to one Douglas County established in 2009 with a Community Development Block Grant. Under that program, income eligible families were able to rehabilitate their homes with zero-percent interest, deferred-payment loans to make necessary improvements to roofs, siding, heating, electrical, plumbing, windows, doors, weatherization, foundations, sewer laterals, well and septic work and handicap accessibility. The only improvements not eligible for the funding were those made for purely cosmetic reasons.
Johnson said the county should hear more about the grant award in the next week or two, but the agency’s goal is to have contractors prepared to do the work.
If the funding goes through as anticipated, Johnson said, about 12 rehabilitation projects could be completed in each county.
While the award was anticipated in December, he said, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation had about $8.3 million in CDBG funding left over, allowing for the larger grant awards for the seven consortiums throughout the state for housing rehabilitation.
The County Board considers the agreements Thursday.