Grand Island (pop. 42,954) took an old idea and transformed it through a new program. The City has offered first-time homebuyer programs for the past 30 years, but in 2005 the Nebraska Department of Economic Development created the Community Revitalization program that allowed communities to apply for a three-year span of funding for a variety of projects in a designated target area. After meeting certain requirements, Grand Island applied for and received funding through the program.
During the second phase of the project, Grand Island was awarded $261,010 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding to rehabilitate seven owner-occupied homes, and administer two down payment assistance programs for first-time homebuyers. Specifically, funds went toward replacing and repairing roofs, adding insulation, replacing doors and windows, installing new furnaces and water heaters, adding or repairing siding, repairing foundations, improving electrical and plumbing services, and many other projects.
The City was able to address a wide array of needs with funding that was not otherwise available in the general budget, according to Grand Island Mayor Margaret Hornady.
“Community Development Block Grants are an important tool to local municipal governments. Recently, we were able to rehabilitate several owner-occupied houses in the oldest part of town. We’ve also used funds to assist first-time home buyers in owning their own homes. Each owner-occupied home helps to stabilize a neighborhood and typically increases the aesthetic appearance of that area. In short, communities are able to tackle important issues, projects and programs that they would not otherwise be able to address without CDBG funding. It is important to us,” said Mayor Hornady.
Citizens also have voiced their support of the Community Revitalization program. A homeowner involved with the ongoing project said, “I am very satisfied with my home improvements and really do appreciate the CDBG program. My home looks great! I’ve encouraged several people who could also benefit from this program to look into it.”
Future plans for the community already include undertaking a new 2010-2013 Community Revitalization plan in a new target area starting in the spring.