Frankford council discusses CDBG program

The Frankford Town Council heard this week from Brad Whaley about the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. Sussex County’s Community Development and Housing Department applies for funding from the program on behalf of local municipalities that request assistance from the County, and the funding then can be used for housing rehabilitation for low-income home owners within the town.

The CDBG funding comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Delaware State Housing Authority and the Sussex County Council. Approval of this year’s funding will allow towns such as Frankford to get financial assistance for rehabilitating, demolition and water/sewer hookups.

Whaley said the program guidelines narrow eligibility to those families of low to moderate incomes (less than $34,300 for one person and about a $4,900 additional per additional family member — or a limit of less than $49,000 for a family of four). The home must be the homeowner’s primary residence, and the homeowner must be a permanent resident of Sussex County.

Under the program, a lien is put on the property receiving the funding, and each year for 10 years after the funding is granted, 10 percent of that lien is forgiven, so there is nothing to be repaid by the homeowner unless the home is sold before the 10 years is up. For homeowners older than 62, the funding comes with a five-year lien, and for demolitions, it is a permanent lien.

“Right now, Frankford has 14 people on the waiting list, and, historically, it has basically been housing rehabs,” said Whaley. He explained that March 2 is the deadline to apply.

For those that don’t qualify for the grants based on income, he explained that the CDBG program also offers 3 percent low-interest loans for homeowners or landlords, with a $35,000 cap for homeowners and a $25,000 cap for landlords, per unit.

He said improvements such as sidewalks could qualify but, historically, individual house rehabilitations are where the money is granted. He explained that there is $1.7 million in grants available between Kent and Sussex counties. The Delaware State Housing Authority has a panel that chooses the recipients.

Property owners interested in the program can contact the Sussex County Community Development and Housing Department for more information. Those living within municipal limits should contact their town administration to request to be added to the list of property owners whose improvements could be funded.

In other news from the Jan. 9 Frankford Town Council meeting:

• The council chose Short’s Insurance as a health insurance carrier for town employees.

• The 2012 town council election — in which seats currently held by Charles Shelton, Jesse Truitt and Ron Atherton are in contention — is schedule for Feb. 4, from 1 to 4 p.m. Each seat has a two-year term. Would-be candidates must file a written notice of intention at town hall no later than 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 12. Voter registration will close at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 13.