Pharos-Tribune

April 2, 2014

Logansport officials split on housing repair grant

Match funds requirement source of debate

BY MITCHELL KIRK STAFF REPORTER
Pharos-Tribune

---- — Logansport City Council members express indications of both approval and condemnation as they prepare to vote on whether to pursue a state grant requiring a financial contribution from the city that aims to improve homes in the community.

Logansport Community Development Director Chris Armstrong and Logansport Building Commissioner Bill Drinkwine proposed the grant Monday at a city council committee meeting.

The grant is available through the Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority’s Owner-Occupied Repair Program. Funds would be available to homeowners to carry out repairs and refurbishments on their own homes whose gross annual income does not exceed 80 percent of median family income for the geographic area published annually by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. A maximum of $25,000 would be allotted per property and a 10 percent match would be required from the city.

It is this 10 percent match that City Councilman Bob Bishop said prevents him from being able to support approving a resolution authorizing the city to pursue the grant. He said it wouldn’t be fair to allow homeowners to improve their homes at the cost of other taxpayers.

“It’s welfare,” Bishop said. “... We’re here to provide essential government services to the community ... it’s not my job to take money from one taxpayer and decide who I’m going to give it to.”

Drinkwine said it is imperative to start exploring funding mechanisms for improving residential parts of the city, as many of the owners of homes in the greatest need of repair cannot afford to do so on their own. He compared the match to the tax funds the city uses to entice businesses to the community.

“We have to view the residential situation the same way we view bringing businesses into our community,” Drinkwine said.

He added improving neighborhoods would also contribute toward enticing businesses to develop in Logansport.

Drinkwine also proposed exploring whether local businesses would be willing to make tax-deductible contributions to make up the matched funds necessary for homeowners to pursue repairs.

Council President Joe Buck agreed neighborhood improvements are necessary.

“We definitely need it,” he said, “we have disasters waiting to fall in.”

However, he said he was hesitant to support the initiative until knowing what the maximum contribution from the city could be and how successful getting contributions from local businesses would be.

The council will vote on the measure at 5 p.m. Monday in the City Council Chambers on the third floor of the City Building, 601 E. Broadway.

Reach Mitchell Kirk at mitchell.kirk@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5130

If you go: What: Logansport City Council meeting When: 5 p.m. Monday Where: City Council Chambers on third floor of City Building, 601 E. Broadway