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Housing and Urban Development fund meeting scheduled

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The first of two meetings to discuss allocation of federal Housing and Urban Development funds in Charleston will be held Thursday.

The director of the city agency in charge of distribution of the money is hoping for a good turnout.

However, typically few people turn out for the public meetings to discuss where they would like to see the federal money spent, said Brian King, director of the Mayor's Office for Economic and Community Development.

"And that's a shame," King said.

He estimates the city will receive about $2 million in federal funds for fiscal year 2013-2014.

It received about that amount during the current fiscal year, which ends next June 30.

"This is the citizens' tax money at work, and we want to hear about how they would like to see it spent," King said.

The federal dollars are allocated to help the city contribute to social agencies, to fix city sidewalks and to help qualified individuals fund renovations to their homes or build new houses, King said.

The funds also can be used to eliminate slum and blighted property, he said.

The city has seen a significant reduction in the amount of federal dollars allocated to projects such as these, King said. In fiscal year 2011-2012, the city had about $2.7 million to work with.

And he said the city might see less than $2 million.

That makes it even more important for citizens to turn out for a public meeting to discuss possible projects.

"We certainly want to make sure we put the money into the right projects," King said. "The more input we get from the public, the better off we are."

King believes the city will receive fewer HUD dollars in the years to come.

Negotiations in Washington, D.C., on the so-called "fiscal cliff" could effect this funding.   

"Entitlements like this are part of what's causing the issues with the fiscal cliff and the arguments between the political parties," he said.

Most of the funds are used for the city's Community Development Block Grant program, which funds projects such as infrastructure development and anti-poverty efforts.

About 15 percent of the block grant funds goes to non-profit social agencies that help the needy, he said.

Of the $2 million in HUD funds allocated to Charleston this year, about $1.3 million went into the block grant program, King said.

The first of the two meetings will be held at the North Charleston Community Center at 6 p.m. Thursday. The second will be held at the City Service Center on Virginia Street East near its intersection with McFarland Street at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 10.

The action plan for the allocations is to be submitted to HUD on or before May 13.

The plan will go to Charleston City Council for approval in early May before it is submitted to the federal agency, King said.        

Contact writer Paul Fallon at paul.fallon@dailymail.com or 304-348-4817. Follow him at www.twitter.com/PaulBFallon. ;  

 


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