County pursues funding for housing rehab

Daniel Mintz
Mad River Union

McKINLEYVILLE – The county’s submittal of a package of federal community development grant applications has been approved by the Board of Supervisors. It includes funding for a multi-family housing rehabilitation project in McKinleyville.

If funded, a federal Community Development Block Grant will provide $800,000 for health and safety and handicapped access upgrades to a 20-unit multifamily complex at the intersection of Murray and Little Pond roads.

The complex is managed by the Redwood Community Action Agency. At the July 19 board meeting, Bill Rodstrom, a senior planner at the agency, highlighted the rehab project’s link to the county’s efforts to reduce homelessness.

“This is for 20 units of affordable housing and we need all we can get, to be maintained over time to prevent homelessness,” he said.

The agency’s complex was built in 1945 and was originally used as naval auxiliary housing. The complex consists of mostly two-bedroom rental units for lower-income tenants.

According to a written staff report, the agency has been working on repairs and has “spent all of their reserves on the most urgent items”; it is requesting the grant funding to finish the work. The grant application package also includes a $500,000 request for the county’s First Time Home Buyer Program, which has been in operation since 2004 and provides low-interest loans for home buyers.

The staff report states that the county usually provides six to eight loans per year, with the average amount being $90,000.

The county now has enough funding for eight loans, but has 45 people on a waiting list.

“There could be a break in service if we do not apply this year,” the staff report states.

Supervisor Virginia Bass noted that grant award points are gained if a project “meets a local urgent need.”

“Are we able to tailor that toward some of the homeless issues that we’re working on?” Bass asked Paula Mushrush, the county’s housing and grants coordinator.

“I tried – I asked,” Mushrush responded, adding that the urgency standard is applied to emergencies such as fires and natural disasters.

“Some people consider (homelessness) to be a natural disaster,” Bass said, adding that, “I want us to keep on top of this.”

Supervisors unanimously approved the grant application package, which also includes a $300,000 request for microenterprise or small business technical assistance.


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