Kent County applies for HUD millions


    The Kent County Community Development Department is applying for a federal grant worth $20 million, money that would rehabilitate foreclosed or abandoned homes in four areas of the county.

    The federal funds would come from the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. The grants are being administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

    “We will be submitting our application to HUD today and I’m frantically working to get the last minute things put together to get it shipped off,” said CDD Director Linda Likely.

    “We were given approval by the commission to apply for the grant from HUD. We’re not sure if we will get it. Hopefully, we will,” she added.

    Likely said her office is submitting the grant in partnership with Lighthouse Communities Inc., a nonprofit development and property management firm that has mostly worked in the Southtown section of Grand Rapids.

    Lighthouse would oversee the acquisitions and construction work, and the county would administer the grant. The grants are from the second round of funding in the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

    Almost the entire grant amount — $18 million — would go to acquire, rehabilitate and then either sell, lease or rent the homes to individuals and families that meet HUD income levels. The remaining $2 million would be used to administer the local grant. Six new positions would be created to work on the effort.

    Lighthouse President Darrel Ross said 200 homes would be renovated if the county gets the grant. CDD found that the neighborhoods most in need are in Grand Rapids, Wyoming, Kentwood and the village of Kent City.

    According to the grant rules, the county would have two years to spend the first $10 million and three years to distribute the entire amount.

    The county received a grant of $3.9 million earlier this year in the first-round funding from the NSP program. Those dollars are targeted to buy and renovate homes in Grandville, Kentwood, Wyoming, Plainfield Township and Gaines Township — areas with a high number of houses that were financed through sub-prime mortgages.

    In a somewhat related matter, the Kent County Treasurer’s office held an auction of tax-foreclosed properties last week at DeVos Place. About 100 properties were on the tax-foreclosure list.

    According to RealtyTrac, a California company following foreclosures nationally, there have been 10,408 foreclosures filed in Kent County from January 2008 through June 2009.

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