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Hearings Will Consider How Block Grant Funds Will Be Used

Applicants vying for a portion of the almost $1.76 million in federal Community Development Block Grant program funds awarded to the territory will get the chance to make their case before the Senate at hearing scheduled next month.
Committee of the Whole hearings will be held at 6 p.m. Sept. 1 on St. Thomas and Sept. 9 on St. Croix.
Late last month, Gov. John deJongh Jr. submitted a bill to the Legislature outlining the list of projects recommended for funding through the CDBG program. The money — made available through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development — is generally allocated to projects geared toward preventing or eliminating slums and blight, addressing urgent needs or benefitting low-to-moderate income residents.
The V.I. Housing Finance Authority in January issued an invitation for proposals from government agencies and local non-profits. The authority received 65 proposals, and local CDBG program staff recommended that 23 of those projects be funded for 2009. The recommendations, which cover projects on all three islands, are not final until they are approved by the governor and ratified by the Legislature.
"In light of HUD’s concerns relative to the territory’s compliance to timliness of funds expenditure, priority selection was given to eligible projects which demonstrated that they would be able to spend the funds quickly," deJongh wrote in a recent letter sent to Senate President Louis P. Hill along with the bill. "Factors which were considered in this assessment included prior performance of the applicant, readiness to proceed, the ability to carry out the project with fewer funds than requested and the overall viability of the project."
The bill also seeks to allocate $1.8 million in CDBG-Recovery funding, according to the governor. It is proposed that the funds be used for:

• Developing infrastructure on property in Estate Bonne Esperance on St. Croix intended to be used for affordable housing;

• Developing infrastructure on property in Estate Donoe on St. Thomas intended to be used for affordable housing;

• Rehabilitating 46 rental housing units throughout the territory; and

• Covering the administrative costs of the local CDBG program.

"Please note that the application for this funding has already been submitted to HUD in order to comply with the federally mandated application," deJongh wrote in his letter to Hill. "Failure to meet that deadline would have resulted in the government losing access to these stimulus monies."
The governor’s bill also gives VIHFA the authority to re-program any CDBG funds that were not spent within a time certain.

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Applicants vying for a portion of the almost $1.76 million in federal Community Development Block Grant program funds awarded to the territory will get the chance to make their case before the Senate at hearing scheduled next month.
Committee of the Whole hearings will be held at 6 p.m. Sept. 1 on St. Thomas and Sept. 9 on St. Croix.
Late last month, Gov. John deJongh Jr. submitted a bill to the Legislature outlining the list of projects recommended for funding through the CDBG program. The money -- made available through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development -- is generally allocated to projects geared toward preventing or eliminating slums and blight, addressing urgent needs or benefitting low-to-moderate income residents.
The V.I. Housing Finance Authority in January issued an invitation for proposals from government agencies and local non-profits. The authority received 65 proposals, and local CDBG program staff recommended that 23 of those projects be funded for 2009. The recommendations, which cover projects on all three islands, are not final until they are approved by the governor and ratified by the Legislature.
"In light of HUD's concerns relative to the territory's compliance to timliness of funds expenditure, priority selection was given to eligible projects which demonstrated that they would be able to spend the funds quickly," deJongh wrote in a recent letter sent to Senate President Louis P. Hill along with the bill. "Factors which were considered in this assessment included prior performance of the applicant, readiness to proceed, the ability to carry out the project with fewer funds than requested and the overall viability of the project."
The bill also seeks to allocate $1.8 million in CDBG-Recovery funding, according to the governor. It is proposed that the funds be used for:

• Developing infrastructure on property in Estate Bonne Esperance on St. Croix intended to be used for affordable housing;

• Developing infrastructure on property in Estate Donoe on St. Thomas intended to be used for affordable housing;

• Rehabilitating 46 rental housing units throughout the territory; and

• Covering the administrative costs of the local CDBG program.

"Please note that the application for this funding has already been submitted to HUD in order to comply with the federally mandated application," deJongh wrote in his letter to Hill. "Failure to meet that deadline would have resulted in the government losing access to these stimulus monies."
The governor's bill also gives VIHFA the authority to re-program any CDBG funds that were not spent within a time certain.