Friday, September 24, 1999

City not giving up on housing grant

Newport sets sights on 2000

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — Hope still runs high with the Newport Housing Authority board of directors that a federal Hope VI low-income housing development grant will be approved for the city in 2000.

        The authority, working with the city administration, applied in the spring for a $30 million grant to begin moving people from the 202 housing units in the Fourth Street project to new and rehabilitated housing around town. Word arrived two weeks ago that the application had been denied.

        “The board is still committed to moving ahead with this project,” Newport Mayor Tom Guidugli, a member of the authority board, said Thursdayfollowing a board meeting. “We will try for the Hope VI money in the year 2000.”

        The board met in executive session Thursday to discuss property acquisition and personnel matters. Those discussion apparently included continuation of a contract with Jan Rubin Associates of Philadelphia, the consulting firm that put together the grant application.

        “I don't think there will be any problems coming to an agreement to extend the contract,” said Jan Rubin, who flew in from Philadelphia to attend the board meeting. Her company specializes in federal development grant applications and low-income development projects.

        Ms. Rubin said she was not surprised that the Newport application was rejected. She had previously advised housing authority board members and Newport city officials that first-time Hope VI applicants were successful only about 25 percent of the time.

        Ms. Rubin's company was paid “slightly less than $500,000” according to housing authority Executive Director Mark Brown, for work in preparing and implementing the grant application that was sent to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

        Newport had sought the $30 million to help start a private development at the northwest corner of 9th and Monmouth streets and purchase additional properties to move other housing authority tenants from their current housing. The 9th and Monmouth project would convert a building that housed a former strip club to mixed-use apartments for both low-income and upper-income residents.

        Ultimately, under a HUD mandate, the city will relocate the families in all 202 housing project units to new and rehabilitated housing.

        “Right now, we don't know why the grant application was denied,” Ms. Rubin said. “We're meeting with HUD officials in Washington Monday, and hopefully we'll have a little better picture of what we need to do with the new application. We must begin the (application) process all over again in the near future.”

        Mr. Brown also announced Thursday that the housing authority has been preapproved for a federal Public Housing Drug Elimination grant.

        “All we have to do is file the application,” he said. “We are assured of the money. We can receive $220 per unit, which would amount to $120,000 a year in funds for drug abuse prevention.”

        He said the board will discuss possible uses of the money.


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