City to seek housing funds

By: By Brandon Tester - Staff writer
John Cantey
Chris Howard Jr.

LUMBERTON — A public hearing on a resolution to apply for Community Development Block Grant neighborhood revitalization funding led to a bigger discussion on housing assistance programs during the Lumberton City Council meeting on Monday night.

In the second of two mandated public hearings on the issue, City Planning Director Brandon Love recommended that the council approve the resolution, which would allow the city to apply for $750,000 in housing funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. That money would be used to rehabilitate eight properties damaged by Hurricane Matthew.

Councilman John Cantey Jr. asked Love if any more funding from the program would become available. Love said no notifications had been given.

The resolution was approved.

Love also discussed other programs for getting money to help repair or replace housing damaged by Hurricane Matthew. Among them were the North Carolina Housing Finance Program, which allows the city to apply for funding for three properties at a time; housing mitigation grants; and Federal Emergency Management Agency funds.

Love said many of the programs available to the city include a number of stipulations, such as income sensitivity, that could cause individuals to be turned away. Applicants should continue to apply to all available programs, regardless of whether or not they’ve been pre-approved for one, he said.

Councilman Chris Howard spoke about how officials outside the region often make decisions to approve or deny applications without “understanding the plight” faced by the city.

Cantey said the allocation and timing of the funds is crucial. He continues to see homeowners suffer from the effects of the hurricane more than a year after it happened.

“It’s a burden for some of our families,” Cantey said. “I’m getting calls every day asking when the money is coming. We’ve heard so many times that the money is coming at the end of 2016, 2017. Now, the latest thing is it’s supposed to be coming the first quarter of 2018.”

In other business, the council members:

— Voted to send $7,000 in recently deobligated money from the Robeson County Disaster Recovery Committee to the families affected by a single-vehicle accident on Feb. 6 that killed two men working with Christian Aid Ministries.

— Gave final approval to a 3 percent salary increase for City Attorney Holt Moore.

— Approved a motion for recertification in regard to a request from Donovan Oliver for a noncontiguous annexation petition for property at N.C. 711 and Deep Branch Road. The motion came after Chris Oliver asked the council to approve the petition during the meeting’s public comment period.

— Approved a contract with The Wooten Company to design the Northwest Sewer System Improvement Project. The contract includes an administration fee of $74,700 and a construction observation fee of $36,400.

— Approved a contract with Wooten for the 6-inch Water Main River Crossing Project. Administrative fees are $27,950, and construction observation fees are estimated at $7,500.

— Approved the purchase of a new Dodge Durango valued at $37,835 for the Department of Public Works. The department has $32,000 set aside for the purchase in its budget, and the remaining funds will come from the water and sewer capital reserve fund. The vehicle will replace a 2005 Mercury Grand Marquis with 110,000 miles on its odometer.

— Approved a $553,700 contract with Hayes Inc. for downtown plaza and alleyway improvements, despite opposition from Cantey.

— Approved the purchase of a new asphalt tack machine for the city.

— Approved the hiring of Blue Ridge Geological Services for a vapor intrusion evaluation at the Town Common and First Street Demolition Site. The contract is for $6,960.

— Sent to the city Planning Board a revised rezoning request for a senior living facility on Dunn Road. The request is now for a parallel conditional-use permit that would designate the area for elderly and disabled housing only.

— Approved housing rehabilitation bids for the Essential Single-Family Rehabilitation Loan Pool — Disaster Recovery. The two properties that will benefit are located at 2186 Nevada St. and 805 Watauga St.

— Honored five retirees: Annie Williams, administrative assistant; Steven R. Smith, police corporal; Harold E. Jackson Jr., police lieutenant; James K. McNair, crew chief supervisor; and Linda Oxendine, Public Services director/tax collector.

John Cantey Cantey

Chris Howard Jr. Howard Jr.

By Brandon Tester

Staff writer

Reach Brandon Tester at 910-816-1989 or [email protected]

Reach Brandon Tester at 910-816-1989 or [email protected]