Chris Berendt Staff Writer
November 12, 2013
Three years ago, the county moved forward in earnest with a grant project that would benefit several local residents with dire housing needs, replacing homes in the county identified as having the greatest of those needs.
At a recent meeting, the Sampson County Board of Commissioners conducted a required public hearing for the closeout of the 2010 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Scattered Site Housing Program, which translated into six housing replacements across the county.
The Division of Community Assistance requires such a hearing — one was also held when the county applied for the grant funds — to be held at the conclusion of a CDBG-funded project. Finance officer David Clack recapped the project, providing a final report on just what it brought to Sampson.
“The scattered site program is federal funding that passes through the state that is available to counties every other year,” Clack explained. “This grant is finishing out its last year. We replaced six houses throughout the county, based on income and need. Those with the greatest need — that is usually a home that needs to be replaced rather than repaired — were funded. We could not rehab any of the homes just because of the funding limitations.”
Eligible to receive $400,000 in CDBG Scattered Site funding, Sampson applied in the 2010 cycle.
The CDBG program provides grants to local governments for projects that enhance the viability of communities by providing decent housing and suitable living environments, as well as expanding economic opportunities, for low- to moderate-income residents. The primary objective of the Scattered Sites Housing program is to improve the housing conditions of very low-income households with incomes at or below 50 percent of area median income.
As part of the program, the county approved beneficiaries, and alternates, to receive funds through the program should Sampson’s projects be selected as part of Scattered Site. The board subsequently approved executing a 4,500 contract with The Wooten Company for planning services.
In all, there were 86 applicants for the program. Of those, 38 of those were determined to be ineligible based on income, special populations, ownership or incomplete applications. The remaining 48 were ranked on a points scale according to income and special populations. The top 20 were inspected to determine the housing needs, with additional points assigned based on needs such as severe water, sewer and housing conditions.
Led by Clack, finance staff reviewed and ranked the applications for assistance. Point totals were tallied, with the biggest number considered the highest need. The county board presented five beneficiaries and alternates.
The five beneficiaries were listed as: Eurie Merritt’s dwelling at 4610 Trinity Church Road, Magnolia; Bobby Webb at 370 Lakewood School Road, Salemburg; Minnie Davis at 144 Noahs Lane, Roseboro; Willie Hill of 409 Johnson St., Roseboro; and Katie Beard of 769 Clive Jacobs Road, Clinton. A sixth home was in Harrells.
Board members touted the Scattered Site program with coming at an opportune time, when the economic recession drastically cut into the possibility for individuals, especially those who were low income already, to make necessary upgrades to their homes and boost their quality of life.
“We believe the Scattered Sites replacement housing project to be a prudent investment of funding in Sampson County,” commissioner Jefferson Strickland, then-board chairman, said at the time the county went forward with the grant program. “Historically, (housing) has been determined to be our greatest need. The majority of the housing units are manufactured housing that are deteriorating rapidly, and in most cases the resident’s fixed income prevents them from being able to address these conditions.”
With six homes having been replaced, and the greatest of those housing needs tended to, the CDBG program was officially closed out by the county board.
“We basically finished all the work,” Clack noted. “I think we paid the last bills at the end of (October).”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.