City grants total nears a million dollars

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By Tia Lynn Ivey

managing editor

The City of Madison has been awarded a half-a-million dollar grant through the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) for the purpose of neighborhood revitalization. The $500,000 grant will be used along with another grant the city was awarded earlier this year for $306,000. The city will now have over $800,000 in grant money to rehabilitate 20-25 houses located on Pearl and Burney streets.  According to Monica Callahan, the goal is to bring entire houses up to code in order to revitalize this section of the Downtown Urban Redevelopment Area (DURA).

“We are super excited about this. We are delighted to be recipients of this grant,” said Monica Callahan, planning director for the city. “Third time is a charm. We have unsuccessfully applied for this grant two times before this.”

Callahan attributed this success to the city’s PlanFirst designation and the formation of a Georgia Initiative for Community Housing (GICH) team, as the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and Planning Department.

“It’s been a team effort,” said Callahan. “This grant is a direct result of our GICH team. Also as a PlanFirst Community, I’m sure that weighed in, too.  And we have to thank the DDA and Planning Department for their role. The fact that we can develop and plan and follow through with it definitely earned us some brownie points, and on a grant application any extra points will get your further,” said Callahan.

Callahan noted the participating houses will not be receiving beautification or additions.

“It will bring more of our challenged housing stock up to code, it is not for pretty new bathrooms or additions, but for safety and repair,” explained Callahan. “It’s to bring buildings up to code for income-qualified residents within a targeted area.”

The program requires the city select two streets this year within DURA, which will be Pearl and Burney Streets, instead of using the money scattered throughout the area. “They want to see do us do a whole street or whole block ,” said Callahan. If we do one house, but the house next to continues to rot beside it, that still brings property values down.”

Callahan anticipates that the rehabilitation of homes will begin early next year. The city has two years to spend the funds granted through the Community Development Block Grant Program.

“We are very hopeful that this will make a difference,” said Callahan. “We are trying to lift the neighborhood up.”

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