$500k grant program assists 12 homeowners in Gloversville

PHOTOGRAPHER:

GLOVERSVILLE — Grant writer Nick Zabowski told the Gloversville Common Council Tuesday night that most of the money available from a $500,000 2019 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) has been spent or is under contract to help provide home repairs for 12 income eligible city homeowners.

Zabowski attended the meeting as part of a public hearing required by New York state to discuss the outcome of the 2019 grant. Zabowski said he’s the acting head of Gloversville’s Community Development Agency, which oversees the distribution of state and federal grant money aimed at supporting home rehabilitation for income-qualified applicants.

He said public hearings are required when municipalities like Gloversville apply for CDBG funding, and then a second hearing is required to reveal what happened with the grant.

“We’ve still about $150,000 left to spend, but that’s already been committed to projects,” Zabowski said. “One of the problems we’ve been running into since COVID-19 hit is getting contractors, and contractors not being able to find workers. Projects are taking a lot longer than they used to. We still have two jobs that are not under contract.”

The 12 homeowners who applied for the grant funding did so for repairs to 15 total dwellings, meaning some of them were apartments in two-family homes, which were eligible.

Zabowski said typically the grant amounts for repairs are meant to be in the range of about $25,000, but he said there is no limit to the amount an applicant could receive, if they meet the income qualifications and can demonstrate that repairs are necessary for the health and safety of residents of the home. He said there were several applicants to the 2019 grant who received repairs valued at $60,000 to $70,000 which was paid to contractors, including for roof replacements. He said the average disbursement was in the range of $20,000 to $24,000.

Zabowski some of the requirements of the CDBG funding include that the local agency dispersing the funds has to reach out to “state certified women and minority contractors.”

“Every time we put a job out to bid we put out an email to all of the certified women and minority contractors in the region, and generally they never respond,” he said.

He said another requirement of the grant program is applicants for funding must maintain ownership of residences repaired using the grant money for five years, or else repay all or a portion of the grant on a prorated basis.

These were the annual income limits for the 2019 $500,000 grant: $38,850 for a single-person family, $44,400 for a two-person family, $49,950 for a three-person family and $55,500 for a four-person family.

“The vast majority of the people (who received money to assist with home repairs for the grant) had incomes of less than $40,000,” Zabowski said. “All sources of income are counted in that, whether they’re taxable or not, including social security.”

Zabowski said the income limitations for the CDBG grant program also include “net rental income”, which means the amount of rent a landlord collects minus the expenses and property taxes associated with ownership of the rental units.

For the next round of CDBG home repair funding the income limits have increased. These are the new income limits: for a single person family $42,950, two-person family $49,100, three person $55,250 and for a four- person family the limit is $61,350.

Zabowski said Gloversville hasn’t decided yet whether it will pursue another $500,000 home repair grant or pursue a different kind of grant. He said there is a long waiting list for applicants to obtain money from any of the CDBG programs administered in Gloversville. He said he’s a “one-man shop” operating the Gloversville Community Development Agency, and residents interested in getting onto the list should call the City Clerk’s office and provide their name and a call-back telephone number.

“They used to have an administrative assistant, but government’s have gotten leaner over the years, and staffing is more limited than it used to be,” Zabowski said. “In Gloversville the city clerk handles what normally would be the administrative assistant’s role. [Applicants] can just call [the city clerk’s office] and say they live at such and such an address, and they’ll get put on the waiting list with their address and phone number. As your name comes up on the list you respond with the information. Sometimes we unfortunately have run into people who have died or decided to sell the house or have moved. We run into that quite often.”

Zabowski said applicants aren’t required to provide their income information until they are actually contacted as being next-up on the list.

By Jason Subik

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