Towns and counties in the metropolitan area have begun the difficult process of dividing up the community development block grants they will get in July. In some cases, local governments have requests from individuals and agencies for twice the amount of money they will receive in federally dispensed funds.
To further complicate the process, most jurisdictions are getting less money than in the past, or the same number of dollars received last year, while costs have gone up. Most local governments will make their decisions by late spring. Then county councils and boards of supervisors will give final approvals. The following is a survey of what local communities can expect from the community development block grant program.
ALEXANDRIA: The city will receive about $1.2 million, down from the more than $1.7 million awarded Alexandria when the block grant program first started nine years ago. With the money, the city will make rehabilitation loans to homeowners in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, particularly the Potomac East and West areas, and will provide "homeownership assistance" in the form of help with settlement costs, down payments or other expenses for low-income residents who are buying homes, condominiums or shares in cooperative housing. The third major program supported by the block grant money provides loans to low-income elderly citizens for repairs to their homes.
ARLINGTON: A small cut was made in Arlington's block grant, down from $2.368 million last year to $2.351 million this year. The grant was slashed by 17 percent in the previous year, however. The county has received requests for about twice the amount of money it will receive from HUD.
Decisions have not yet been made on how the funds will be used but community development chief Joan Linderman said housing and neighborhood revitalization projects funded in the past probably will be continued. These include acquisition and rehabilitation of apartments and homes for low and moderate-income families, a moderate-income home ownership program, home purchase assistance and projects for rehabilitation of rental apartments and homes. Revitalization projects in three neighborhoods, Nauck, Highview Park and Columbia Heights, also are expected to receive money this year.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: The city block grant was slashed by nearly $2.2 million this year. With the $21.28 million they will receive at the beginning of the city's fiscal year on Oct. 1, housing officials expect to continue funding several major projects started in previous years. These include home ownership assistance and aid to displaced homeowners and tenant groups (about $3 million); rehabilitation of single-family homes and rental apartment buildings (about $3 million each), and assistance to small businesses in neighborhoods where community revitalization projects are under way (about $1 million).
Uses of remaining funds will include operation of shelters and group homes, aid for handicapped and elderly residents, assistance to business firms and residents displaced by redevelopment. Some money will go the Alabama Avenue Renaissance, a revitalization project covering much of Ward 8.
FAIRFAX COUNTY: The county's block grant will total $4.1 million. This is slightly more than the amount Fairfax received last year, when its grant was cut by 17 percent from the previous year. A housing authority spokeswoman said the county has received requests for more than $8 million. Much of the money this year will go into storm drainage construction, street widening and sidewalk and curb construction in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods said the spokeswoman. Highest priority will be given to work already under way in the conservation areas with money received in previous years' block grants.
The town of Falls Church, which receives its block grant through Fairfax County, has asked for $36,000 for Operation Match, a program that matches "home-seekers with home-providers," said a spokeswoman.
MONTGOMERY: The county's block grant will be $4.172 million, down slightly from last year and far below the $4.88 million Montgomery received two years ago. Housing workers have received requests for more than $6 million from individuals, agencies and communities. Block grant money for the towns of Rockville, Gaithersburg and Takoma Park are included in the Montgomery grant.
A temporary emergency shelter for homeless, low-income citizens will be funded for the fourth year, said Elise Hall, specialist in housing and community development. Most remaining money will used for construction of facilities such as community centers, for improvements in low- and moderate-income areas and for street, sidewalk and storm drainage work. In addition, the county will provide rehabilitation loans to landlords of apartment buildings for low- and moderate-income residents.
Rockville: The city has asked for $200,000 for rehabilitation loans to homeowners, $18,500 to install an air conditioner in the senior citizens center, and $21,800 for improvements in public housing, said a spokesman. Another $32,000 has been requested for "close-out" funds needed to sell or lease parcels of land designated for urban renewal projects in the late 1960s and '70s but not redeveloped, and $34,000 is needed for administrative costs.
PRINCE GEORGE'S: With $5.938 million expected, Prince George's is the only major jurisdiction to get more money than it received last year. This year's block grant is about $100,000 more than last year's amount. Community development specialist Kenneth Collins attributed the increase chiefly to the addition of three municipalities -- College Park, Colmar Manor and Landover Hills -- to the 13 towns already receiving their block grant funds through the county.
Traditionally, Prince George's allocates the largest portion of the grant -- from $2 million to $3 million -- for rehabilitation of owner-occupied, single-family homes, said Collins.