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Community Development (CDBG)

Administrator:   Lisa Harrelson

Phone:              (334) 705-5155

Fax:                  (334) 705-5409

 

The Community Development Office is part of the Planning Department.  The two primary focuses of this office are: improving the well-being of Opelika's low-and moderate-income persons and encouring development that benefits the community as a whole.  Not surprisingly, the sources of project funding, and the strings attached, shape what we are able to do. The City of Opelika has been an entitlement city and receiving this grant since 2000.

 

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) are federal funds received from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  The federal goal for CDBG is ".....developing viable urban communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment and expanded economic opportunities....for low-to moderate- income persons."  To receive CDBG funds, the City is required to submit several documents to the US Housing and Urban Development Department. Community Development staff prepares these documents.  

Our grant award for "Program Year" 2013 is $225,410.00. 

 

To view approved PY2013 Budget CLICK HERE (pdf file).

 

The CDBG program works to ensure decent affordable housing, to provide services to the most vulnerable in our communities, and to create jobs through the expansion and retention of businesses.

Each activity undertaken with CDBG funds must meet one of the following national objectives for the program:

Over the last 6 years Opelika has provided more than a million dollars in funding to:

Public Service Activities

Public Facilities Improvements

Housing Services

Rehabilitation

Emergency Utility Assistance Program

The City of Opelika provides assistance to low-moderate income households once each calendar year to those who live inside the city limits of Opelika and meet the income qualifying guidelines set by HUD. Those wishing to seek assistance with payment of a utility bill may contact Lee-Russell Council of Governments, Kathie Tharpe, at (334) 749-5264, ext. 248 for an appointment.

 

Emergency Home Repair Loan Program

 

The majority of our CDBG funding is used for housing-related programs.  Good, safe housing is a precious community resource.  In Opelika, much of that resource is found in Opelika's low-to moderate-income neighborhoods.  This program is available city-wide with concentration on Census Tracts 414 (Carver Community) and 416 (Jeter Community).  While conscientious landlords have a significant positive impact in these neighborhoods, homeownership appears to be the key factor of well-maintained neighborhood housing.  In keeping with that, Opelika uses funds for programs that help low-to moderate-income homeowner's maintain and improve their homes by addressing health and safety issues. 

 

Criteria include:

The City of Opelika is currently accepting applications for the Emergency Housing Repair grant program.  However, there is a lengthy wait list.  Our goal is to reach as many citizens as possible with our current limited funding.  Grants of up to $6,000 to address housing conditions that threaten the health or safety of residents will be made. 

 

To view brochure on qualifying for the Emergency Home Repair program and what repairs are eligible under this program CLICK HERE (pdf file)

 

Downpayment Assistance Program

 

Successful homeownership benefits the homeowner and the surrounding neighborhood.  Homeownership is successful for the homebuyer when all of the associated costs-mortgage, property taxes, insurance, mantenance, and repairs-are understood and manageable.  Homeownership is successful for the neighborhood when the new homeowner is committed to maintaining their home and caring about the surrounding neighborhood.  In fact, successful homeownership benfits the whole city with stronger community involvement and stabilized property values.

 

The City of Opelika provides Down Payment Assistance intitiative through GEMS-E, East Alabama Center for Housing (EACH).  This program is available city wide to low-moderate income-persons, preference given to buyers in the Jeter Ave Target Area.  The target area is bound by 6th St, Samford Ave, Fox Fun Parkway and Torbert Blvd.  Grants for 50% of lender required down payment (not to exceed $6,000 per participant) will be provided by the City of Opelika for down payment assistance only.  GEMS-E provides education and home buyer training to potential home buyers as well as other neighborhood revitalization strategies.

 

First Time Homebuyer Loan Program

Homebuyer Training

 

Fair Housing

 

What is fair housing?

 

When looking to buy or rent a property it is important to know that you are protected under fair housing laws.  The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimation in the rental, sales, mortgage lending, and home insurance markets.  Fair housing laws are some of the strongest civil rights statutes on the books.  Federal and State laws make it illegal to discriminate against people when renting or purchasing a unit based on any of the following:

 

*  Race                                        *  Disability

*  Color                                       *  Ancestry

*  Religious creed                         *  Marital status

*  National Origin                         *  Family status (families with children under 18)

*  Sex                                          *  Veteran status or member in armed forces of the U.S.

*  Age                                          *  Sexual orientation

*  Genetic information                   *  Status as a person who is a receipient of federal, state,  

                                                         or local public assistance or who is a tenant receiving

                                                         federal, state or local housing subsidies including rental

                                                         supplements.

 

The law also covers advertising, including making discriminatory statements.  Ads which express a preference for, or exclusion of, a particular group of people are illegal.  In addition, there is a duty to provide reasonable accomodations to a person with a disability when it is necessary to ensure an equal housing opportunity.

 

If you think you have been discriminated against, you may contact the Central Alabama Fair Housing Center at (334) 263-4663.

 

For more information on Fair Housing CLICK HERE.

 

Facade Grant Program

 

Business owners in the Downtown Historic District may qualify for grant funds through Main Street to perform exterior repairs.  Revitalization of our downtown business district promotes tourism and stimulates the economy promoting business growth.

 

To view a map of our Downtown and see a list of current businesses and buildings, CLICK HERE.

 

 Special Note:   The City of Opelika will hold a Public Hearing on Monday, November 10, 2014 at 4:00 p.m., in the Planning Commission Chambers at the Public Works Facility to discuss the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) activity and progress for the end of the year Consolidated Annual Performance Report (CAPER)  For program year 2013: October 1, 2013 - September 30, 2014.  Discussion about the program and how it benefited low-moderate income families in the City of Opelika will be hear an discussed. Public participation an comments are invited. A copy of the CAPER will be available for public review and comment beginning November 14, 2014 at Public Works, City Hall (Mayor's office), and Cooper Memorial Library. Copies of the CAPER may be obtained at the public hearing or by contacting the Planning Department. Public comments and questions are invited either in writing or in person and will be accepted until December 1, 2014. Comments may be sent to:  Community Development,  Citizen Comment, 700 Fox Trail, Opelika, AL 36801 or emailed to lharrelson@opelika.net .  If special accommodations are needed to participate at the hearing by persons with disabilities, please contact Lisa McLeod, City ADA Coordinator at (334) 705-5132 at least (48) hours in advance.