Archive for Thursday, April 2, 2009

Leavenworth County agrees to take part in blight program

April 2, 2009

In September, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development allocated nearly $4 billion to state and local governments to provide assistance to acquire and redevelop foreclosed properties to keep them from becoming a blight to the community.

On Monday, the Leavenworth Board of County Commissioners voted, 2-1, to participate in this program and accept the $1,230,663 offered to the county from the Kansas Department of Commerce. Commissioner Clyde Graeber was the dissenting vote.

Of the $4 billion in federal funds, nearly $21 million was given to Kansas and targeted at the top 21 of the 105 counties in the state. A report given to the county from Christopher Dunn, planning and community development director, said Leavenworth County was number five on the list.

The Kansas Department of Commerce has appointed the Rural Development Association of Northeast Kansas to help facilitate the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

On Monday, Virginia Dienstbier with the Rural Development Association of Northeast Kansas, was in Leavenworth to answer any questions.

The grant money allows for a funding mechanism to purchase foreclosed homes or properties that have been abandoned in order to sell, rent or redevelop them.

The grant also allows the county to establish a land bank for the foreclosed homes, demolish blighted structures and redevelop the demolished properties.

The life of the grant is 18 months — nine months to commit the funds and another nine to spend the funds.

Commissioner J.C. Tellefson was hesitant to vote for the grant after Graeber voted against it. But he voted for it, saying that if the county didn’t get the money another county that wasn’t as disciplined as Leavenworth County would get it.

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