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Grant Program For Homeowners With Code Violations Could Be Revived

Image by wnk1029

Cincinnati officials hope to revive a program offering financial support to some residents with housing code violations. The HARBOR Program once provided grants to low- and moderate-income families struggling to pay for repairs.

"Those violations were creating a larger problem for them as they were trying to figure out how to put food on the table and the like," said Art Dahlberg, director of the Department of Buildings and Inspections. "The program itself has helped a number of people and has done a great job of keeping people in their homes, which I think is a critical aspect as we're working through the challenges of this pandemic."

But HARBOR didn't get funding this year. Dahlberg presented his budget request to a City Council committee Monday — he's asking for $400,000 in the next city budget to run HARBOR again.

City Council Member Jan-Michele Lemon Kearney says they tried get the funding last fiscal year, and she's ready to try again.

"Also, we were trying to make it so that low-income families don't have to pay it back, but maybe moderate-income families might pay it back on a really small percentage, or maybe no interest, so that we can kind of refund it as much as possible," Kearney said.

City Council must approve a new fiscal year budget by the end of June. Although most departments are requesting an increase, budget officials expect to make some cuts.

But HARBOR could come back to life another way. At a public meeting Monday night, the city's Community Development Advisory Board said they're considering re-starting the program using existing federal funding from Housing and Urban Development.

The advisory board will send its priorities to HUD by the end of March. That could include a request to use $250,000 in calendar year 2021 for HARBOR.

See the full budget presentation below:

Dept of Buildings and Inspe... by WVXU News

Becca Costello grew up in Williamsburg and Batavia (in Clermont County) listening to WVXU. Before joining the WVXU newsroom, she worked in public radio & TV journalism in Bloomington, Indiana and Lincoln, Nebraska. Becca has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including from local chapters of the Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists, and contributed to regional and national Murrow Award winners. Becca has a master's degree in journalism from Indiana University and a bachelor's degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Becca's dog Cincy (named for the city they once again call home) is even more anxious than she is.