The Senior Citizen Home Improvement program is likely to receive more funding by the end of the month as City Council members plan to vote to approve more American Rescue Plan Act funding for the community.
While the city’s remaining ARPA funding has declined rapidly in recent months, city council members have repeatedly discussed the need to increase funding for the popular senior housing improvement program. During Monday’s work session, City Council President Anthony Dolce, R-Ward II, asked the council to consider a proposal to allocate an additional $500,000 to the program because of the many inquiries council members have received from people in the community.
“I’m sure we’ve all had a number of emails or calls about the program,” he said. “To date, we have allocated $1 million.”
Dolce explained that the City Council could choose from a few different options to allocate the additional ARPA funding to the program. He suggested that the City Council could either allocate an additional $500,000 from remaining ARPA funding to bring the program to a total of $1.5 million. “of the earth.”
Regardless of how the funds could be awarded, Dolce stressed the importance of providing the additional funding for the Senior Citizen Home Improvement program so that all eligible applicants could be awarded funds.
During Monday’s working meeting, the Finance Committee also asked the entire council how it should proceed with the city administration’s proposal for the 19A Home Owner Program. While council members discussed concerns with the city’s entry into the real estate industry, the majority of the council agreed that the program could benefit the community by providing an alternative to demolition of properties that could be improved with an initial investment by the city and sold to new homeowners at a reasonable price price and at a possible profit.
Nevertheless, with dwindling ARPA funds, City Council members agreed that the proposal to fund the program should be reduced from the requested $750,000 to $500,000. Despite the reduction in the 19A Home Ownership Program’s funding, city administration indicated that the program would still be able to move forward successfully.
With $250,000 less expected to be allocated to the 19A Home Ownership program, Dolce urged the council to use the funds to help fund the remaining $500,000 for the Senior Citizen Home Improvement Program.
“My proposal tonight is if we take $250,000 from the 19A program, that cuts it in half, and then you allocate another $250,000 from ARPA to bring the senior housing program up to $1.5 million, and then you still have the other $500,000 for the other program,” he said.
At the suggestion of Dolce, the other council members agreed that the best way to allocate funds for the Senior Citizen Home Improvement program would be to use $250,000 from the 19A Home Ownership program along with an additional $250,000 from the unallocated ARPA funding.
Mayor Eddie Sundquist said city administration will adjust the proposals to reflect City Council guidance regarding the reallocation of remaining ARPA funds ahead of November’s upcoming voting session.
Dolce said the increased funding for the Senior Citizens Home Improvement Program will help the City Council get one step closer to meeting community needs, which were discussed before any of the ARPA funds were awarded.
“That was one of the key components that we heard last summer in the four meetings that we had was to get the money into the hands of residents and neighborhoods as much as we could,” Dolce said. “We’ve tried to move this around. We’ve hit every single thing. We’ve hit public safety, we’ve got housing, development, almost every corner of the different categories.”
City Councilman Jeff Russell, R-At Large, said both the city administration and the council have done “a pretty good job of distributing ARPA money fairly to a variety of different departments and programs.