Campbell, Struthers, Mahoning County miss $1 million in fundingTweet
More than $1 million in federal funding for use in improving low-income neighborhoods is off the table for Campbell, Struthers and Mahoning County.
The Community Housing Impact and Preservation program is federal funding used by local governments throughout the state to improve housing and infrastructure in low-income areas. Last year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, by way of the Ohio Development Services Agency, awarded more than $25 million in CHIP funds.
Had they been approved, Struthers and Campbell would have received $350,000 each, and the county would have received $450,000.
Local governments vying for the money – either individual municipal entities or partnerships, as in the case of Struthers, Campbell and the county – must submit grant proposals and are scored competitively based on a points system.
Governments that apply as part of a partnership are eligible for up to an additional $50,000 per partner. This year, 30 of the 44 submitted applications were partnerships.
The Campbell, Struthers and county partnership was denied funding from the state by a matter of 0.2 points.
Mahoning County Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti said the failure to secure the grant was a result of less funds being made available by the state.
“The people who prepared this grant are wonderful grant writers – they regularly win grants from HUD – so this isn’t a result of poor work,” Rimedio-Righetti said. “This is just another example of the counties feeling the trickle-down impact of the state making less and less money available.”
Rimedio-Righetti is correct that less CHIP money was available this year compared with previous years.
In 2016, the total amount of CHIP money awarded throughout the state was $25,699,200. This year, the total award was $24,314,167.
Residents hoping to benefit from the CHIP funding generally begin applying to have their projects – such as roof repairs, home heating repairs, etc. – considered at the beginning of November. This year, their projects will have to be put on hold.
Struthers Mayor Terry Stocker said there was little the city could do to make up for the loss.
“It’s heart-wrenching that people won’t get that assistance this year,” Stocker said. “We just don’t have the resources to make up for the loss of that money.”
Campbell has led the application process in the past, hiring CT Consultants to create the grant application for the partnership. When CT Consultants stopped offering the grant-writing service last year, Campbell issued a request for proposals for a replacement company but was unsuccessful. This prompted the county to take over the process and prepare the grant itself.
Phillip Puryear, a department head at the Mahoning County Lead Hazard Control who helped prepare the grant, said the county planned on re-applying for the money in May.
“I got the chance to sit down with the individuals who review the applications and get feedback,” Puryear said. “I’m confident we’ll get the funding for next year. We’ll bounce back.”
Puryear said if the state had received slightly more money from HUD, the Campbell, Struthers and county partnership likely would have been included in the funding.
“That extra million might have been enough for us to have been included in the funding this year,” he said.
Until the next round of CHIP money is available, officials in the impacted governments will be left explaining to residents why their projects won’t be funded this year.
“It’s disappointing,” Stocker said. “Definitely not a very good Christmas gift, that’s for sure.”