Blue Springs City Council member Sheila Solon is encouraging the city to use community block grants to help low income families with home repairs.
City Council Member Sheila Solon would like to see incoming money from a grant go to minor home repairs.
Makes sense, she said, especially when the city is on the verge of passing a maintenance code that might hurt those who can’t afford to make the repairs.
Solon’s recommendation at a recent council meeting followed a presentation by Scott Allen, the city’s director of Community Development, who said available money for the approaching year is lower than in the past but still a welcome relief.
Approximately $225,000 will be available through the Community Development Block Grant, a funding source that helps cities launch and complete a variety of rehabilitation projects. Some projects using last year’s funding are already underway, including sidewalk repair work on 10th Street. Improvements to Blue Springs Park on South Avenue and 19th Street and lighting on Main Street are also in the works.
Scott offered some recommendations about what the incoming money could be used for, including improvements to downtown sidewalks, curbs and gutters from 8th to 12th streets, as well as sidewalks on Kingsridge Drive in front of Candletree Apartments.
But it was the Minor Home Repair program that attracted Solon.
“I’d like to see the whole amount used for start-up costs (for that program),” Solon said. “We need a way to help people of low to moderate income make the needed repairs.”
Solon said Blue Springs should use the money much the same way Lee’s Summit and Independence do. She said the city should contact both cities and ask how they administer the program.
Solon also recommended that the city come up with a way in which to supplement any additional costs with the home repair program, perhaps by extra staffing to operate and assist the program
“We’ll get a tremendous response with this,” she said. “It’ll be a popular program.”
Council Member Sissy Reed said the repair program is important, but she would like to see the money used for the other improvements, too.
“I’d like to see all of these things included,” Reed said.
Council Member Ron Fowler said the city should go out and learn from other communities about the repair program and make a decision.
“The citizens are asking for a maintenance code,” he said.