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Stimulus helps housing authority

Federal stimulus money is trickling down to the local level. In Superior, a little over $1 million will beef up Superior Housing Authority projects throughout the city. "We're excited to get it," said Len Campbell, deputy director of operations. ...

Federal stimulus money is trickling down to the local level.

In Superior, a little over $1 million will beef up Superior Housing Authority projects throughout the city.

"We're excited to get it," said Len Campbell, deputy director of operations. "We'll put it to good use."

The money will replace the furnace and boiler at the Peter Rich Center, both of which have outlived their expected useful lives by at least five years. It will replace floor tiles, patios and siding at Bayview Terrace; storm doors and windows at Billings Park Villa. Park Place, the state's oldest public housing development, will get new sheds.

The items are already part of SHA's five-year capital improvement plan, which prioritizes physical needs. They will just get done sooner with the federal dollars.

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"It came at a good time, actually," Campbell said. "It's great to have this money to be able to do this work."

He estimated the funds will put SHA nearly two years ahead in building maintenance. However, the housing authority has a list of approved capital improvement projects totaling $10.5 million.

The nonprofit entity, which oversees 121 buildings, receives yearly capital funds grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The 2008 grant was $797,241, a little higher than the previous year, Campbell said.

The federal funds must be contracted out within a year and spent within three years. Bids on the projects are due in June. If everything goes smoothly, Campbell said, all the projects could be done within a little more than a year. This is not just a windfall for the tenants, he said, it's good for everybody.

"It gets people to work," he said.

In addition, SHA was awarded a $240,000 HUD grant last week to encourage and promote self-sufficiency among residents.

Provided through HUD's Resident Opportunities and Self Sufficiency (ROSS) program, the grant offers funding to hire a service coordinator to assess residents' needs and link them with local resources -- job training and placement, education and training opportunities, computer training, financial literacy and home ownership counseling. The dollars can also be used to provide supportive services such as child care and transportation to help families take advantage of training and employment opportunities.

Although Campbell had not received official word that SHA received the grant, HUD spokeswoman Sheila Ashley confirmed the grant was among the last of HUD's 2008 awards. She could not say when the funds would be released to SHA.

Related Topics: SUPERIOR
Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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