Connellsville Housing Authority facing reduced federal funding
By Karl Polacek
Published: Tuesday, July 16, 2013, 6:27 a.m.
The Connellsville Housing Authority, with two housing programs to take care of — the federally financed Riverview Apartments and North Manor, plus state-financed Greenwood Heights — is facing reduced funding because of federal sequestering.
According to James Robinson, the authority's consultant, the government now provides two streams of funding to the authority for the structures built with federal funding.
“One is an operating account that pays for the gas and electric and the salaries and those kinds of things,” Robinson said. “The other is a capital fund program where HUD (Housing and Urban Development) provides funds for capital improvements, just like for houses, new roofs, new sidewalks and so forth.”
However, the authority has maintained the buildings under its control and keeps the required emergency fund so that none of the buildings face any maintenance crisis problems.
The yearly public meeting, required by HUD regulations, was held in the authority building on Monday morning. While no problems are pending, the reductions in federal funding could force the authority to delay certain projects.
Board member Jim Grimm said the authority hopes to schedule work as the funding becomes available.
“With the amount of funds that are going to be available, we're hoping to (replace) about 25 furnaces (in North Manor),” Grimm said. “Additionally, we're hoping to replace four roofs. Again, we would do more, but with the amount of funds, that's what we're projecting we'll be able to do.”
While the authority might not get money to replace all of the pending needs, it does not mean there will be damage caused by a lack of repairs.
“We don't have any water damage or anything,” said Carol Staines, executive director. “We just know they've reached their age.
“We do have a reserve fund for emergencies in our budget,” she added. “It's required by HUD. And we have enough so that if we had a real problem, we have enough, although we try not to tap into that unless we absolutely have to.”
Robinson said one of the things the authority is required by the government to do is make sure everyone who lives in the structures is identified in the lease.
“The second thing we're telling people about is that we have a bit of a problem with unregistered pets,” Robinson said. “Apparently, people are temporarily taking in animals, and that creates problems for us, not only in the mess we have to clean up, but also in having undocumented pets around and the problems they might create.”
Robinson said the authority has systems to check on residents, such as how much money they make and any criminal problems.
The five-member board currently is short one person. One board member, who was a resident of one of the buildings as required by federal regulations, has died.
The authority must find another resident to take a seat on the board.
Karl Polacek is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-626-3538.
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