San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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February 6th, 2012
More federal funds available to fight poverty, blight

by SEAN BATURA

San Marcos will likely receive more federal money this year to assist low-to-moderate income residents and combat blight.

Janis Hendrix, City of San Marcos community initiatives administrator, said the city stands to receive Community Development Block Grant funds totaling $572,577, which would be 19 percent more than last year and the most the city has received since 2010.

“It significantly increases the number of people that we’re able to assist,” Hendrix said.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provides CDBG grant funds for projects in San Marcos sponsored by non-profit organizations and city departments that eliminate slum and blight conditions and benefit low-to-moderate income residents.

The city will accept applications for CDBG funds beginning Feb. 13 through March 23. This is not an application for individuals to ask for personal financial assistance.

Applications are available in the city’s Development Services-Planning office on the second floor of the Municipal Building, at 630 E Hopkins Street. Applications may also be downloaded from the city’s website here

Eligible projects must satisfy national CDBG program objectives and address priority needs of housing, transportation, infrastructure improvements, or public facilities. Funding becomes available after Oct. 1.

For additional information about the CDBG program, contact Hendrix at (512) 393-8147 or by e-mail at jhendrix@sanmarcostx.gov.

In 1994, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development designated the City of San Marcos as being eligible to receive CDBG money. Hendrix said the city received about $750,000 that first year.

“And every year since, with very few exceptions, we’ve lost money,” Hendrix said. “And it has nothing to do with whether we’ve done a good job or not, but everything to do with more and more entities that become eligible for the funding. At the federal level they’re not putting enough money into it, so everybody’s slice of the pie shrinks.”

Hendrix said she will probably ask for $85,000 and $100,000 for the city’s first-time home buyer program. Under the program, the city will pay 50 percent of what is required for a down payment on a home, and 100 percent of typical closing costs. Those eligible for USDA loans, which require no down payment, must pay at least $800 into those loans to be eligible for the city’s home buyer program.

Hendrix said she expects Southside Community Center to apply for CDBG funding for its home rehabilitation program. Southside Community Center, sponsored by the Methodist Church, sponsors church youth groups from all over the country each summer to rehabilitate or improve homes in San Marcos. Southside typically receives enough CDBG money from the city to rehabilitate or improve seven to 10 owner-occupied homes, Hendrix said. Southside volunteers improve or rehabilitate additional homes with support from other sources. Southside volunteers will install new roofs, new electrical systems, and make safety improvements to benefit elderly or disabled people, among other projects.

“From June through the end of July, every week there’s a new youth group that comes in,” Hendrix said. “Last year I think (Southside) had 600 kids that came. They house them and feed them and coordinate getting them here.”

The city just finished improvements to Victory Gardens Park using CDBG funds. The project involved replacing playground equipment and a basketball court, and installing a fence around the park.

Past projects funded in whole or partly with CDBG money include the Hopkins Street pedestrian bridge over the San Marcos River and the nearby sidewalk, the skate park, various other sidewalks, the Anita Reyes and Swift Parks, the Village of San Marcos Sports Park Complex, the Swift Park basketball courts, ramp and parking improvements at Community Action’s Community Health Services Clinic, and the rehabilitation of 45 houses between 2000 and 2008.

Ongoing CDBG projects include renovations to the Cephas House, construction of the Eddie Durham Park, and a 1,472-square-foot expansion of the San Marcos Senior Center.

Hendrix said the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded San Marcos the following CDBG amounts for the specified years:

• 2011 (this year’s funding) – $479,634
• 2010 – $575,181
• 2009 – $527,099
• 2009-R – $139,827 (additional stimulus funds given to the city)
• 2008 – $514,869
• 2007 – $532,495
• 2006 – $531,284
• 2005 – $587,708
• 2004 – $618,000
• 2003 – $616,000
• 2002 – $707,000

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