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Claremont continues to use funding for housing rehab

Preparations are underway for the adoption of the city of Claremont’s 2014-2016 budget cycle.

While economic uncertainties have forced government cutbacks when it comes to social services, Claremont officials are renewing their commitment to funding community programs.

The Claremont City Council continued to drive city interests forward earlier this month by adding its approval to funding for the city’s Community Development Block Grant program (CDBG).

CDBG, established in 1974, is a federal program that provides funding to create programs and projects that benefit low to moderate-income individuals. Funding, received from Los Angeles County, benefits a variety of city programming such as housing rehabilitation, senior case management and the job creation and business incentive grant program.

Though the program has seen reductions from previous years, the city of Claremont expects to receive an estimated $134,856 to continue to provide for these government-funded benefits.

“It’s disappointing to see those dollars are dwindling, but all in all I’m glad we are receiving funding,” said Councilmember Larry Schroeder. “We will just have to keep looking for new opportunities.”

The city’s housing rehabilitation program—providing funding to low-income homeowners unable to pay for necessary maintenance, repairs or energy efficiency improvements for their homes—will receive the most CDBG funding at $60,000. Those who qualify for the program may receive up to a $20,000 loan per household. The homeowner is not expected to repay that money until they sell the home or transfer the title, according to information provided by Associate Planner Joanne Hwang. To date officials say they have received numerous inquiries and expect the budget to be exhausted by the end of the fiscal year.

A little more than $20,000 will help continue the city’s senior case management program, giving Claremont residents over the age of 55 access to case management services free of charge. The city of Claremont is one of few cities in the area providing residents with the services of a senior case manager free of cost, and residents take full advantage. There are currently 80 cases being handled by the city’s program, which has provided support to more than 1,800 individuals on a one-time basis, according to Ms. Hwang.

Karen Rosenthal of the city of Claremont’s Committee on Aging, said she was pleased to see the city continuing its support of the program. In addition to the CDBG funds, she hopes the city will dedicate further general fund money to support the efforts of the Claremont Senior Program.

While providing for the city’s seniors, CDBG has also helped benefit local business. For the past several years the city has maintained its commitment to helping local economic development by providing for the job creation and business incentive program. This year is no different. Nearly $55,000 will be dedicated to the program’s efforts to provide assistance to new or expanding businesses in the form of forgivable loans. In return, for every $25,000 received, the business creates a permanent full-time staff position for a low to moderate-income employee.

The Packing House Wine Merchants is among six local businesses currently taking advantage of the job creation and business incentive. Owner Sal Medina credits his ability to expand his restaurant, bar and wine shop to the funding received through the incentive program.  

“It was a huge influx of capital for us without the lengthy process and all the paperwork,” Mr. Medina recognized. “It was also great for our employees, many of whom are students with a lower income,” Mr. Medina recognized.

The job incentive program has been mutually beneficial for local businesses and the city alike, Mr. Schroeder pointed out.

“Not only does it help low income people by providing jobs, you also can get that economic development boost and encourage business to expand or start up in Claremont,” he said. “In this way you get twice the reward for what you spend.”

For more information on CDBG, visit www.hud.gov/cdbg.

—Beth Hartnett

news@claremont-courier.com

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