The Community Development Block Grant, which gave the city $566,000 in fiscal 2012, and its counterpart, the $250,000 Home Program, are stabilizing neighborhoods, he said.
“We built 28 new homes since 2003,” Coleman said. “We’ve invested a lot of CDGB money in the community not only to build new housing but also stabilize existing neighborhoods where senior citizen homeowners actually own their homes but just don’t have the extra income to get those necessary repairs — new roof, wiring, electrical, removing lead-based paint and asbestos.”
However, both programs are funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and they are feeling the pinch of the economy.
“A lot of cuts have been made not only in CDGB. We were getting $500,000 in Home funds. They cut it 50 percent. What we get now is $250,000,” City Housing and Community Development Manager Mitch Bland said.
Coleman said he will lobby Congress to keep the funding, while Bland said the program’s administrators will try to do the best they can.
“We’re trying to do more with less,” Bland said. “If we can hold our own, that’s what we’ll do. We’re not in control of what’s going to be decided at a federal level.”
He said the federal funds provide a good return, even if the return is not always apparent.
“What people don’t understand is the money we invest in our communities comes back to us tenfold,” he said. “If you think about it, when we improve a house, or build a new house, even at local property tax rates, that means that money comes back.”
The money is not a handout, Bland said.
“It’s an opportunity program. It’s not an income subsidy program,” he said. “The people who buy these houses use their own money to buy them.”
There are also other ways of financing, as in the case of Dorothy Daniel at 241 McIntosh Ave.
The 74-year-old, a Cobb County school crossing guard, lived in another house on the same lot for nearly 40 years.
“I enjoyed it until the tree fell on it,” she said. “They condemned it, so I had to get out. I rented an apartment until they built this.”
Bland’s associate, Community Development Specialist Tamra Dollar, and Coleman connected Daniel with the Home Program.
Daniel received a $100,000, three-bedroom, two-bath house that is a neighborhood showplace.
However, she has a unique financial arrangement.
“If she sells it, she pays the city back,” Bland said. “If she doesn’t move, she doesn’t owe anything.”
While the situation seems ideal for the resident, he said it also benefits the city and county.
“It keeps the property on the tax rolls,” he said.
Taxes on the property total about $150 per year.
Bland said houses like the one occupied by Dorothy Daniels on McIntosh Street may be at risk.
“That was under our replacement house program (that) we may not have more funds for,” he said. “A lot of cuts have been made not only in CDGB. We were getting $500,000 in Home funds. They cut it 50 percent. What we get now is $250,000.”