Major Akron housing issues addressed in 2 ordinances passed by Council; Stimulus money could provide $30 million for projects throughout city

July 08, 2009

Akron City Council Monday night passed two ordinances with the potential to significantly improve the city's housing landscape and housing opportunities for Akron residents.

The first of two ordinances introduced by Planning Committee Chair John Conti (At Large) allows the city to apply for homeless prevention money that the 2009 economic stimulus provided to states.

The ordinance passed authorizes the city's Director of Planning and Urban Development to apply to the state for $488,000 from the State of Ohio Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development created this program in response to available money provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support services which prevent individuals and families from becoming homeless after foreclosure or eviction, and which quickly re-house and stabilize the recently homeless.

If awarded, the city will have $28.5 million from two revenue streams to fund such services, with the $2.8 million in federal money it also recently applied for directly from HUD. The total funds will be used mainly to provide financial assistance such as rent or mortgage payments, security deposits and utility assistance for people at risk of becoming homeless; and to re-house residents already in emergency or transitional housing.

The city has issued requests for proposals to various nonprofit agencies that would carry out the programs. Bids are due by early August, contracts for the work are expected to be signed by late September, and monies are expected to be released for the program in early October.

Conti also introduced legislation which amends the city's 2008 Consolidated Plan and Community Development/Home Program to include a second component of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, or NSP 2, as an eligible activity for federal funding to redevelop abandoned and foreclosed homes in the city.

Under the amended plan, Akron stands to benefit from $25 to $30 million in federal money that HUD has earmarked for neighborhood revitalization programs in cities across the country.

Eligible activities in Akron under NSP 2 include property acquisitions, demolition, new construction, rehabilitation and resale of acquired properties, clearance of blighted properties and new home ownership programs in West Akron, North Hill, Goodyear, Ellet, University Park/Firestone Park and Kenmore/Summit Lake neighborhoods.

NSP 2 is an outgrowth of the original Neighborhood Stabilization Plan created in 2008 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to stabilize communities that have suffered from foreclosures and abandonment. NSP provided $3.92 billion in grants to states to purchase and redevelop foreclosed and abandoned properties in targeted areas.

The city applied for and received nearly $12 million for new home construction and home ownership programs under the initial NSP in early 2009.

Under NSP 2, HUD allocated an additional $1.93 billion to states, local governments and nonprofit organizations for the same objectives of the original NSP, but monies under this program are granted on a competitive basis.