Press-Republican

December 11, 2013

Black Brook seeks HUD funding

By SUZANNE MOORE News Editor
Press-Republican

---- — BLACK BROOK — The Town of Black Brook wants to win federal funding to make housing more habitable here.

“We’ve got a lot of people in need,” Town Supervisor Ricky Nolan said. 

Friends of the North Country is heading the effort to acquire U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant Program funding of about $240,000 for the work, which would allow HUD-eligible improvements to private, owner-occupied homes.

“That should allow us to do (about) nine projects,” said Friends Executive Director Scott Campbell. 

PUBLIC HEARING

That could mean roof replacement, new siding, doors, windows and heating systems. It could also address failed water or septic systems. 

“It’s pretty comprehensive,” Campbell said of the types of work allowed by the program, which is administered by the New York State Office for Community Renewal.

The Block Grant Program, for homeowners of median income, focuses on improving health and safety and making a residence more energy efficient.

A public hearing set for 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 16, at the Town Hall, located at 18 North Main St. in the Black Brook hamlet of AuSable Forks, will give homeowners an opportunity to learn more.

MASS MAILING

Black Brook won Block Grant funding a decade or so ago, and, in fact, had two Cape Cod-style homes built as part of a HUD pilot program that replaced substandard homes for local families.

The new application, Nolan said, will mark the town’s third try over the past few years.

The town mailed out about 600 letters to announce this effort, Campbell said, asking residents to respond to some basic questions — whether they own their own home, need major repairs and what their income level is.

Nolan was very pleased to learn more than 40 replies had come in; Campbell said subsequent phone screenings helped determine eligibility and interest.

“We’re designing a program that will ensure there is an adequate pool of eligible households available,” he said. 

“The sad thing about any program like this is the people who need it most” are often too proud to come forward, Nolan said.

He remembers an elderly woman who was approached a few years ago to see if she would like to apply for funding to repair her leaky roof.

“She said, ‘You give that to somebody who needs it,’” he said. 

Nolan encourages residents to check into the program — families with young children, seniors who may endure winter weather on the family homestead with single-pane windows ...

“They would be more comfortable and save money on fuel, too,” he said. “It’s a wonderful program.”

‘CAN ÏAPPLY AGAIN’

The deadline for the town to apply had been Dec. 20, but Campbell learned recently that the date has been moved to Jan. 17.

The town is still accepting calls from anyone who might want to apply; the public hearing is another opportunity to express interest.

Black Brook could try for as much as $400,000 for this next round of funding, but there’s a fairly short time frame to complete the projects, Campbell said.

And the winter-impacted North Country construction season and availability of contractors makes it prudent to limit the number of homes chosen for rehab, he said.

However, Campbell said, “as the program is ongoing ..., if we see the need goes beyond the scope of the project, we can always apply right away for another.”

Reach him at 834-9606; call the Black Brook Town Hall at 647-5411.

Email Suzanne Moore:smoore@pressrepublican.com