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Locals hoping national efforts will fail to nix Community Development Block Grant

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Rome’s director of Community Development is hoping a plan by the Trump administration to zero out funding for the Community Development Block Grant program is rejected by Congress.

Community Development Director Bekki Fox told members of the Community Development committee — Bill Irmscher, Wendy Davis and Randy Quick — that Rome receives approximately $400,000 annually from the program.

“If it was up to general funds, we wouldn’t be putting sidewalks on East 12th Street, or we wouldn’t be putting sidewalks in North Rome,” Fox said.

“And we wouldn’t have the minor repair program,” Wendy Davis said, referring to a program that provides $5,000 grants for repairs to low-income owner-occupied housing. “Those programs are working in every city across this country.”

Both Davis and Fox said they hope Congress would restore funds to the budget for the CDBG program, just as it did last year.

Bids for phase two of the sidewalk improvements along East 12th near Walnut Avenue will be opened by Feb. 20.

All of the new apartments at Etowah Bend and McCall Place are leased up and 17 of the 34 townhouse style apartments at Burrell Square are leased or under contract.

“There have been over 4,500 inquiries on those 84 units,” Fox said. “That’s just a huge testament to how much affordable housing is needed in this community. We could not have asked for a better partner than Laurel Street Residential.”

Three of the five single-family homes built by the city and the South Rome Redevelopment Corporation have been sold and a fourth is under contract.

The city received a grant from the Department of Community Affairs to build the homes and once they are sold, the money goes back into a city housing trust fund to building additional homes.

Fox said that there is still plenty of property available in South Rome for the next round of homes to be constructed but didn’t rule out going into other sections of the city to build new affordable housing.