Rutherford County has received a $586,000 grant for housing rehab for low to moderate income homeowners from Community Development Block Grants.
Scott Gadson, executive director of the Isothermal Planning and Development Commission praised efforts throughout the four-county region to deal with the challenges of housing.
Of the $586,000 grant, he said, "Right now we're assessing properties and reaching out to contractors." Once chosen the money will pay for improvements to 19-20 low to moderate income homes.
The planning commission is shepherding a task force on housing needs that has been looking for grants and identifying needs in a housing environment that needs lots of love.
Gadson said the Housing Task Force is determined to keep working until some goals and actionable steps can be identified.
"Covid has thrown the momentum in disarray," but nonetheless Gadson added, "The majority of folks show up online." He also talked about the fact that, "We house Section 8. We continue to be on a road to self improvement. We're having to serve people differently (because of Covid.) Training and building capacity within the housing staff. We are also more aggressive in pursuing grants."
The Community Development Block Grant program has not been involved in housing since 2011, but because of the CARES Act, that program is again looking at housing. IPDC is administering that for Rutherford. Gadson said there are new opportunities out there in the area of housing and economic development.
Rutherfordton Town Manager Doug Barrick said, "I am delighted at the work that our Housing Task Force is doing, we are taking on one of the biggest issues in our four-county region (Rutherford, Cleveland, McDowell, and Polk).
"Even through the pandemic, we have engaged community leaders and stay committed to strengthening the quality of life for our community. Each of our communities in the four-county area is unique and provides a sense of place but what draws us together is the bond to create viable solutions to address all sides of the housing issues from affordability to quality as well as inventory and preservation."
Housing inventory is a huge issue in Rutherford County where the average age of the housing stock is more than 30 years. That's the average.
Barrick also said, "I feel confident with the engagement we have had to date and the passion of the task force we will present a set of working goals with implementable goals for our community. Quality of life begins in the home and it sees our work as the task force to ensure that elected officials, nonprofits, business leaders, and individuals all have the opportunity to explore and implement the solutions we bring forward."
Craig Hilton who shares leadership with Barrick of the Housing Task Force said, "May I say how grateful I am to be working with such a dedicated group of professionals focused on one of today's most pressing needs.
"Preserving those unique qualities that make living in our beautiful region so special, while providing for the rapidly shifting changes and requirements that are occuring about us, is a big challenge and one that I am honored to be a part of reviewing."
IPDC has also secured a home finance grant for McDowell County, according to Gadson.