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Council opens comment period for federal housing cuts

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, March 18, 2013, at 7:02 p.m.

City officials got some relatively good news in early March: Federal housing funding for Wichita will be cut by 5 percent this year, not the 8 percent originally feared.

So council members will open a 30-day public comment period on that funding Tuesday, when approval is expected to be given to a variety of programs to help low-income Wichitans find and maintain housing.

City officials feared massive federal cuts in the program late last year, Vice Mayor Janet Miller said, making a variety of essential housing services almost impossible to maintain.

City staff is estimating funding at just under $4 million — $2,364,171 in Community Development Block Grant money, $223,388 in Emergency Solutions grant funding and $1,125,571 for HOME Investment partnerships.

The balance of the cut comes in CDBG money, about $205,000.

“It could have been a lot worse,” Miller said. “We think we can progress with the programs we have in place. It’s just a reflection of today’s economy, especially the world of federal funding.

The programs include:

•  Housing services, including funding for repair, renovations and long-term remodeling projects including major heating and air conditioning, weatherization, roofs and energy improvements. These programs are designed to keep low-income residents in their homes.

•  Summer youth employment programs targeting the 14- and 15-year-old teenagers living in public housing.

•  Construction money for Mennonite Housing and Power CDC to build homes for lower income families.

•  Funding for the city’s neighborhood city halls, which offer services to citizens in each council district.

•  Services for domestic violence victims.

•  Youth crime prevention programs.

Tuesday’s expected first council vote will open a month-long public comment period, after which the council will vote in late April for final approval of the program funding.

Reach Bill Wilson at 316-268-6290 or bwilson@wichitaeagle.com.

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