The Daily Tar Heel

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Thursday July 7th

Habitat, YMCA explain benefits of federal affordable housing, social program funding in Chapel Hill

Nonprofits working with local neighborhoods asked the Chapel Hill Town Council Monday to consider allocating federal funds to the organizations based on their past successes and plans for the coming months. 

Habitat for Humanity of Orange County and the Chapel Hill YMCA both provided reasons they should receive money from the Community Development Block Grant program, known as CDBG, and the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, both designed to aid in the development of affordable housing and social programs.

The block grants and HOME programs provide eligible communities with money to buy property, improve public facilities and assist low-income tenants with rent payments.

The programs specifically serve households earning less than 80 percent of the area median income.

Brian Curran, a Habitat for Humanity of Orange County board member and representative for its A Brush with Kindness program, which conducts home repairs, said the Chapel Hill provided $25,000 to Habitat in block grant funds for the current fiscal year, which ends in April. 

“I’m here to tell you that the CDBG money has been put to good use," he said. 

“Homeowners are typically senior citizens who find themselves somehow unable to maintain their homes and it allows them an opportunity to improve their housing conditions.”

Susan Levy, Habitat's executive director, said the town's allocation of more money to the organization would secure its progress in Chapel Hill.

“I know we’re all looking forward to the release of the initial requests from the source of funds and the impact that their use will have on families that are struggling to find affordable housing options in Chapel Hill," she said.

Habitat is applying for roughly $250,000 in HOME funds for the new fiscal year, which will go to the development of 11 homes in the community, Levy said.

Will Speight, youth director of the Chapel Hill YMCA, said CDBG funds have been a major reason the YMCA has had success in the community.

“For the past 20 years, the CDBG and the town have supported our program of outreach to communities in our neighborhood who struggle with the financial means to be able to provide stability at home,” he said. “We are able to serve over 250 kids every day.”

Because of an increase in the amount of funds provided by the block grant program, the program has been able to increase the number of children it serves, including providing specialized counselors to assist ESL students, Speight said.

“We’ve enjoyed many successes over the years through our outreach program," he said. "This year has been no different, and we are very hopeful and thankful for the support that we’ve gotten and for, hopefully, what we will receive going forward."

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