Community Development Committee hears more about residential construction challenges

Rome Community Development Committee members Bill Collins (from left), Jim Bojo and Sundai Stevenson learn that the CHIP housing construction program has been put on pause due to an increase in the cost of materials.

The high cost of construction has taken a bite out of the city of Rome’s Community Home Investment Program.

Two new CHIP homes have been completed on Peachtree Street. But construction of a third, on Grover Street, was canceled after the contractor said the cost went up by $30,000.

The sale of a home at 7 Peachtree closed Monday and one at 10 Peachtree is slated to close next month, Community Development Director Bekki Fox told the city’s Community Development Committee on Tuesday.

The homes are being constructed through a partnership with the South Rome Alliance. Funding comes from the sale of previous homes built with CHIP grants from the state.

As homes are built and sold, the income is funneled back into the program to build more housing for qualified low- to moderate-income purchasers. The city has constructed more than 30 of the homes over the last couple of decades.

Unable to build within the cost parameters — typically right at $100,000 — the city and South Rome Alliance sold the lot on Grover Street to a private developer, who will build on the site.

The city’s minor and moderate home repair program has also been impacted by the increasing construction costs.

Fox said she only has a handful of contractors who participate in the program, and they’re so busy right now that she’s having a difficult time getting bids for work.

“They usually don’t want to fool with us except when they don’t have anything else to do,” Fox said. “We have one house that is under contract and the contractor is replacing all of the windows in the home. Well, the windows have been on order for almost 16 weeks.”

In lieu of more extensive, and expensive, repair programs, Fox said her office is considering the addition of a home painting program. She said a budget of $5,000 per home would help the look of some neighborhoods in the city.

“We’re not going to paint a house that the roof is caving in on. There would be some parameters,” Fox said.

Rome’s Community Development Block Grant allocation for 2021 was increased by about $6,800 and Fox won approval from the committee to put those funds into the East Rome sidewalk rehabilitation budget. She hopes to get some sidewalk work along the Maple Street corridor under contract by the end of July.

Rolling over some leftover funds in the 2019 and 2020 CDBG budget, the city has right at $300,000 for the sidewalk work.

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